Doomed to Failure, Part 3

by CJFosdick on November 1, 2014

I have another reason why I believe our schools aren’t going to actually reach these children from other countries the way they should. In order to be successful our students will need to accept these new comers. Most will, but some will become bullies, and can make the lives of these new students miserable, especially if they gang up on the newcomers. To students who don’t even know our language let alone our customs, they could be devastated and be marked for the rest of their lives. You might say the school can put a stop to this bullying, but it has been my experience that schools can’t and most administrators don’t even try. It was my experience as a teacher if I took a problem of bullying to a principal, I was told he/she they couldn’t stop it.

Bullying has always been a problem, in schools, but today’s kids tend to be meaner-spirited and less concerned with the feelings of others. It is not unusual to read about some poor child who commits suicide because of bullying. In my 33 years of teaching, I had some that tried, but thank goodness didn’t get the job done. By law I was supposed to report any such incidents to the principle. I remember the time I told the man sitting in the principal’s chair about one of my girls who had the glass out of her watch and was cutting at her wrists between classes. When I told the principal, I also said that someone needed to talk to the girl’s parents. He said, “Good idea. Why don’t you? So of course I did. That was years ago and she is now working in a near-by town.

The last one who threatened suicide in my class was one I was especially trying to reach. He had lost his older brother tragically in a car accident in the summer and he blamed himself thinking he should have been the one who died. When I was talking to him later, he begged me to please, please, please not tell the principal who had it in for this boy and was looking to get him out of school. (Talk about a big, overgrown bully with authority, this man was!) Even though I knew it might be my job, I never told him. I called the kid’s mother and I reported it to the school nurse and crossed my fingers. Then I wrote a letter to the principal begging him to reach out and get help for this child who was so mentally upset. Of course the principal didn’t and the kid made it through that period of his life.* But I understand that he is pretty strung out in drugs today. Could we have helped him? I think so.

The reason I am writing all this is because my heart goes out to these refugees. They already have had so many problems in their young lives, we here in America don’t need to add more. They are here. They are scattered all over America, and I think they are here to stay. Many of the older kids are already in gangs and we need to give them a life here that has more appeal than gang life. Acceptance by their classmates is one positive thing we can do and the way the teachers and administrators handle the bullying is critical.

We can either set up enough roadblocks in their way to probably insure most won’t make it in our schools which will only add to our welfare roll, when they become adults, people caught in poverty, drug life, uneducated, and with no hope to succeed. Or we can reach out and help them with the problems we know they are facing while they are in our schools, and help get them the education they will need to succeed and become productive citizens and Americans. We must try!

*For the record, after I wrote the letter, I waited. And waited! All he had to do was contact the BOCS psychologist if he didn’t want to go further. He never replied to the letter, not until it came time for my last teacher’s evaluation at the end of school. In this evaluation which became a part of my permanent record, he had written that “I dared to write a letter in support of a student I knew had been a discipline problem to him and the superintendent…” You know what, looking back I wish I had done more to help this little stray in his time of personal crisis. If anybody ever needed a friend, he did.

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