Slivers of sunlight within this horrendous teacher bullying storyDoug French
By now, I hope everyone has had the chance to see this video, of the father confronting the teachers who bullied his autistic son. I hope you’ve been able to keep your food down as you heard this kid’s teachers tell him to shut up, call him names, and taunt him about his parents’ divorce. I also hope you’ve had the chance to read some of the great reactions among the Babbloscenti here, here, and here.
If you haven’t accomplished these things, go ahead and do so. I’ll wait.
Why am I writing about his now, days later? For one thing, I want to keep this story alive in people’s minds. News comes at us from myriad angles every day, and the perfectly legitimate reaction is to desensitize ourselves to the bludgeoning. But I want people to remember this story, to get hopping, stinking, spitting mad about it, and to take this further than just contentment over a firing. We need to demand an explanation why these teachers have not lost their licenses. We need legislation to overturn tenure when a teacher has been so unimpeachably busted like this.
This story hits me from several angles. But believe it or not, not all of them make me want to throw up.
There’s been plenty of outrageous ink (and pixels) spilled about how this has played out. And I’m with them 100%, as both a former teacher and the uncle of a (very) special-needs kid who also happens to live in New Jersey and who relies on trained, compassionate instructors every day. But if I am to search among the rubble of this fiasco, I find the following solace:
As a disbeliever in bureaucratic protocol, I am completely man-crushing on Stuart Chaifetz for taking the initiative and investigating his suspicions so proactively. This is a man who saw a no-win, his-word-against-theirs scenario within normal channels and ably circumvented them. You, sir, are a badass.
As a tech enthusiast, I am geeking out on the technology he used to collect such damning evidence. This is the kind of espionage that most people only encounter in movies, and Chaifetz had the gear and expertise to make it all work.
As a social media dork, I am doubly enthusiastic about how fast the word has spread, and action has been marshaled. Other teachers will take notice of this and think again before they taunt a kid who can’t fight back. To borrow from Flannery O’Connor, “She would have been a good teacher, if it had been somebody there to tape her in case she abused her students every minute of her life.”
And most importantly, as a father, I’m really gratified to see that the parent who did all this, who defended a child so proactively, who employed tech and social media so adeptly, and who spoke so eloquently about the pain this has inflicted on an entire family (without, say, firing bullets into a laptop) is a single dad and primary custodian. Although it clearly wasn’t his intention, he’s injected an able, passionate male voice into the modern parental consciousness. We need all we can get.
Read more from Doug on his personal blog, Laid-Off Dad.
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