Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's a Safety Thing

This afternoon I was part of a scene that is played out across schools all over the world. A kid misses the bus and doesn't know his address or phone number or who to call in case of emergency. Here's the catch....I teach middle school, this was a 6th grader.

I have know this kid for years, taught him as a 4th grader, and again this year. Over the years he has made very little progress in school. I recently had to explain to someone who works with him on a daily basis that, no sorry he's not going to "grow up", this is about where his maturity level stops. He can be very sweet and fun in the classroom, but can also be a huge pain in the rear. He is not the easiest child to work with, but also not the worst. But here's the thing, he doesn't even know his address or phone number, and I KNOW he's capable of learning, and memorizing them. I have kids in the MOID class that know their addresses for heavens sake. And what really kills me is that his parents know his ability level, they know that he needs lots and lots and lots of help with everything. And yet they don't bother to update their contact information when their address/phone numbers change. I've been telling him all year that he absolutely needs to learn his address. As a matter of personal safety he needs to know where he lives. I stood in the office getting more and more annoyed that I couldn't find someone to get this kid and I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn't his fault. Because it really isn't his fault that he doesn't know these things, but it is his parents fault. If you have a child with a disability you need to be more involved, not less. And it kills me that they aren't. That he had to watch me call number after number after number trying to find someone who gave crap about the fact that he wasn't home yet. It kills me that I had to call the school social worker to come and get him, and that I had to make him describe his house to me before I let him go because I wanted to be sure that he would recognize it when he saw it. And it kills me that I was getting more and more annoyed with him while it was happening, Yes, it was well past time for me to leave work. Yes it was the 2nd to last day of school. Yes I am tired, but that is no excuse. I don't want to be that teacher, or that person. Mostly I think I was mad that I seemed more concerned about this kid than his parents and that is the most messed up part of this whole thing.

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