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education, employment, Prejudgment, sadness, students, Teaching, Youth

An Act Of Bravery

I simply said, “No. I can’t do that.” That simple statement opened me up to a barrage of abuse that continued for months. I taught for an on-line K-12 public school. My job was to supervise students by visiting them in their homes. I checked on their progress with their school work. I supervised almost three hundred students. I also proctored the state exams. My job also entailed getting students to the testing sites. I also tested special needs students in libraries close to home if they could not make it to a testing site. It was not my job to transport students, unless they were with a parent or guardian in my car. During the week of state testing, I got a call from my supervisor to check on one student who did not make it to the testing site. I called her mother. We made arrangements to test her daughter in the local library less than a mile from her house.

In the meantime another teacher called the parent. She told the mother her child could be tested in their kitchen. I was told to test this child in her home. Warning bells sounded in my head. A chill went up my spine. This caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. Not a comfortable feeling. In the years I worked at this school, this type of situation never occurred. This student was not a special needs student. She did not have any accommodations. So, why was I being asked to test her in the comfort of her kitchen? This was wrong and illegal. Why this student? Why, when others could have used the advantage of testing in their home- but were not offered the choice?

I am a certified teacher. Why would I want to take the chance of losing my license by doing something illegal? All students were to take the state test at the designated test sights unless their IEP said otherwise. I knew that. My supervision called me and told me to test her in her home. I simply said, “No. I can’t do that.”

What followed was the Principal and my deficient supervisor trying to intimidate. They wanted to force me to test the student at her home. Why would I risk that for an employer who was asking me to do something wrong? Why would they put me in that position? Because they did not care about me! They cared more about “the test” results. Cheating in any fashion is still cheating.

Those people called me. They held my checks. They sent me in the worse parts of the city after dark. But I did my research. I knew people went to jail for tampering with the test. Certainly not worth it. Turned out the student was white in a predominantly black city. She claimed she was afraid to leave her house. I countered with the students in her area had to go to the testing site too. Therefore, to be fair, she must follow suit. Why was she different? She went to the movies, to the store and mall. She could go to the testing site or library as the rest of her classmates did. Still, I was told test her at home. “Let the teacher who told her she could test at home test her there.” I said. No was the answer. You do it.

“No, I can’t do that!”

Ah, I forgot. I was not thinking that way. I was the only black employee in a white school, working in a black city- with mostly black students. The other teacher was white and the student in question was white.

I was so disappointed. I thought they were different. I was wrong.

I hate when that happens.

I was reading an Oprah magazine. A question was asked: What have you done that you think is brave? Well! I have done many things in my life that would be considered brave after all I was a lifeguard on a beach. Of course I am a mother of three children. Let’s not forget, being a teacher caused me to do many acts of bravery. As a teacher, especially in a high school in an urban area, everything happens. There are fights. There are falls. There are instant illness. There are also emotions of students that can take any situation to an emergency level in an instant.

Yet, none of these occurrences I considered brave.

Being brave is acting courageously, while possibly risking your own welfare or safety. I do not think doing my job was acting bravely. Fire fighters to me are brave; however, when I ask them if they are brave, they replied, ” We am just doing our jobs.” Bravery to me is doing something beyond or outside of the scope of one’s job. A lifeguard who sees someone in trouble, off duty, and goes to help when he or she did not have to do so is brave . Some may say stupid.

My saying “no” was my brave act. I knew I would be harmed. Nonetheless, I had to do what I knew was the right thing to do. Any acts of bravery are based on our beliefs; done by reflex or before we think.We try to make a situation better for someone. I did not risk my life, but maybe I did. Had I done what I was told, I might still have a job. I would still have spending money. Yet, I would be waiting for the long arm of the law to find me. I know the school would not have protected me. They would have bailed saying I did everything on my own. At the very least- I have my beliefs. I did the right thing.

I still do not understand why the abuse happened. It was completely unnecessary! All student should be tested equally. Testing at home is a huge advantage. Totally not fair. It changes the test results.

I have had to work hard to overcome the bitterness that threaten to overcome me. I had to forgive so that I could free myself from the hatred that was growing in my heart. Let Karma dole out the necessary retribution. I have learned that since my contract was non- renewed, that one student was tested in the library by the white teacher. The school dropped the city. They lost three hundred plus students there and five hundred more across the state. That was a great thing. The school did not care about their education progress anyway. The local districts do care.

The school threaten to have me arrested because I refused to return my equipment until I received all of my past pay checks. They stalled on paying me. I took them to small claims court. Two hours before the hearing, they paid me very dime.

Still, I worked with those people for four years. Three of those years were wonderful. I had no idea how treasonous they truly were. I am sorry the school got away hurting so many children. Each student depended on the school to educate each justly and without prejudice! Did not happen. No wonder there is such a huge education gap between blacks and whites in education. Absurd. And yet this continues.

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