Friday, November 05, 2010

Friday's Feature Film: Adventures in Racial Profiling and Fire Alarm Activation Laws

Our Cast of Characters:

The Teacher: A short, sweet little woman who reminds us of a younger version of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.

The ESL (English as a Second Language) Teacher: Single woman in mid-40's with four degrees, two of them advanced, who is adopting a boy from Bulgaria between the ages of 3.5 and 5, who should be home next year, who professionally dances competitively, who has four degrees, two of them advanced, and who is currently using crutches because she broke her foot while practicing her competitive professional dance, which fortunately did not harm her brain, because as a single woman who holds for four degrees, two of them advanced, her brain is a more important asset than her professional, competitively dancing feet.

The School Psych: 60-year old hippie. Long hair. Wears a dream catcher earring. Cowboy boots. The audience is pretty certain that both Bill and Ted are his love children.

The Mom: Over-protective, neurotic and slightly clueless. Homeschools the majority of her children. Mortal enemy #1 to the school district and local public school, all of whom want their damn share of the tax dollars allocated to her childrens' education because what business does she have anyway in having a say about her childrens' academic development?

The setting:
A school office.

The time:
Shortly before lunch.

The Mission Impossible:
To get the ball rolling on Keenan's Neuro-Psych/Cognitive testing.

Enter: Mom, Teacher, ESL, Psych. All adults present are sitting at a large table, each adult safely ensconced in their own protective bubble of one open chair on each side of their personage.

ESL: Mom, I have to tell you, I just LOVE your boys. I know I shouldn't love my students or feel emotionally invested in them, but I am a single woman who has been working with school districts for the past 15 years. I have four degrees, two of which are advanced. I am adopting a little boy from Bulgaria, so I feel vested in your boys.

Mom: That's wonderful that you are adopting. My boys really like working with you. Thank you for your help.

Continued idle chit chat while Psych figures out how to call the school social worker on his office phone.

Psych, clearing throat, interrupts: Soooooo, Mom, do you speak English fluently?

Mom, looking around the room to see if there is a joke she is missing: Yes, yes I do.

Psych: Sooooo, do you speak English in your home?

Mom: Yes. I do, as do the rest of my family.

Psych: And what is the main language spoke in your home?

Mom: English. English is the only language spoken in our home.

Psych, shuffling papers, presumably to determine concerned child's identity: And let's see, Keenan, he only speaks Spanish?

Mom: No, Keenan does not speak any Spanish.

Psych, looking confused: But he's receiving ESL services?

Loud "Hmmmppphh" sound emitted from the ESL.

ESL: Excuse me but for a moment. I have to let you know that what you are doing is called "RACIAL PROFILING." You are presuming that just because this woman and this child have a Hispanic last name, that they are Hispanic. Those are unacceptable assumptions. I know ALL about this because I have four degrees, two of which are advanced, and I worked in the Milwaukee school district with children of all ethnic backgrounds.

Teacher, bends over, intently reading a blank piece of paper to avoid all eye contact.

Psych, blinking rapidly: Ahhhhhh, okay. Um, what language does the child speak?

Mom: English. But his native language is French Kreyol.

Psych: Kreeee---ole?

Mom: Yes, French Kreyol. Keenan is our adopted son. He is Haitian.

Psych: Asian?

Mom: Not Asian. HAY-shon. From Haiti.

Psych: Huuuuhhhhh. So, does your husband speak Spanish?

Mom, blinking: No. My husband is not Spanish. He is Asian Pacific Islander, from Guam. Spain once conquered Guam, hence the Spanish name. But neither my husband nor myself nor any of our children speak Spanish.

Psych: Huuuuuuhhhhhhh.

Awkward silence.

ESL: Many ethnic backgrounds overlap over many different parts of the world. Just like this family here. I know these things because I have four degrees, two of which are advanced. And as a professional, competitive dancer, I have traveled the world and experienced many cultures.

Psych, staring open-mouthed. Shuffles more papers: Ahhhhh, ooookkkkaaaayyy, so since the child speaks Kreyol, I'm assuming that you (to ESL) are also his interpreter?

ESL: No, I am not.

Psych, to the teacher: Has the school district employed an interpreter for the child?

Teacher: No, they have not.

Psych: By state law, our school district must employ a Kreyol interpreter to administer these tests! I will begin that paperwork immediately after I smoke a doobie in the parking lot.

(Kidding. He really said: immediately after this meeting.)

Mom, raising hand: That's very nice of the district and all, but it would be pointless as Keenan does not speak Kreyol.

Psych: Who?

Mom: The child. My child. Keenan.

Psych: Ooooohhhh yeeeaaaahhhhh. Keenan. So, like, he doesn't speak Kreyol any more?

Mom: Keenan was adopted at age 4. He has been home 14 months. In that time, he lost his understanding of Kreyol.

Psych: Huuuuhhhhhhh.

More paper shuffling.

ESL: I'm assuming since I am Keenan's ESL teacher and I have 14 years of experience in testing and I have four degrees, two of which are advanced, that I will be part of this testing that is taking place.

Psych: Totally. Cool. So, since Keenan is ESL and doesn't really speak anything, then we'll just do all non-verbal testing.

Mom and teacher make eye contact. Teacher looks alarmed and worried. Perhaps that Mom is going to blow.

Teach: Psych, I think one of our main concerns is that the child has no ability to retain any information, in both written and verbal languages. Here (hoists large file folder out of her bag) are the daily write-ups on the daily lessons and testings that I worked on with solely Keenan. I think there are some real problems here, and I'd like to see them addressed before he moves on in school and has negative academic experiences.

Psych, receiving the 10 pound file: Whooaaa. Most awesome.

His eyes light up as he reaches for the file. Mom visually covers her mouth with her hand, to stop herself from jumping up and yelling: Put down the doobie and step away from my child's file!

Psych: So, Mom, do you have any concerns that you would like us to note?

Mom: Just that my son had lived in institutionalized care in a third world country for over 4 years. We are working with trauma issues, some residual malnutrition issues, and we're hoping to get Keenan the help he needs so that he can begin learning in the manner best for his particular set of challenges.

Psych: Wow, man. I'm seeing a plan, now.

At this point, audience senses that Mom refrains from screaming: Wow, man, I highly doubt that you do!

ESL: I just have to say, I think that you are a Saint. How good of you to adopt those boys and bring them into our country. And to be so dedicated to their schooling. What a great thing that you did. In addition to my many international travels as a professional, competitive dance, and in addition to the vast amount of research I conducted in earning my four degrees, two of which are advanced, I have acted in the capacity as Missionary to our Lord within my Church, traveling to orphanages around the world, to play with the children and teach them proper word enunciation.

Mom visually scans the room for a Fire Alarm. Wonders if she pulls it, would she be arrested?

* * * * * * * *

I will spare you the details on the rest of the meeting.

Needless to say, I left the meeting feeling very confident that my children is in good hands.


But what's a mom to do? For now, I think that I have to ride this out, stay on top of things, and research the law regarding Intentional Fire Alarm Activation before our next meeting.


ania said...

This write-up was hilarious.

After reading the title, I anticipated that this entry would be about a fire alarm having been pulled, and one of your kiddos being blamed.

I hope you are always able to have Teach alongside you at these meetings to balance things out so that you don't start thinking you're the one miscommunicating and seeing things out of focus. Though ineffective ignorance and/or oblivion can still be very harmful, I am glad that it doesn't sound like any of these adults were purposely trying to not help Keenen. Yes, I know that you know that. And I know that my observation does not fall in the realm of Helpful Advice. However, being an administrative support person for a public school district for Four Years in an Advanced Capacity - I believe that it is my duty, and that I am Qualified, to point these things out.

Assuming that you can get Psych to focus: explain (or rather - repeat, restate, synonymize, metaphorize) that ESL's current purpose is not to teach Keenan English, and expound on that fact to the degree that you feel necessary and digestable for Psych. So that he can move on to really real issues.

Also, I would repeat variations of Teach's bit, "Psych, I think one of our main concerns is that the child has no ability to retain any information, in both written and verbal languages. Here [....] are the daily write-ups on the daily lessons and testings that I worked on with solely Keenan. I think there are some real problems here, and I'd like to see them addressed before he moves on in school and has negative experiences."

Finally, I, even as a non four-degree(two of which are advanced)-holding blah, blah, blah..., am grateful (and, grateful is the right word, because everything each of us does impacts everyone else. Really.) that you adopted your boys. I am grateful that you care so much for the education of all of your kiddos. As a Four-Year long Advanced Capacity public school district support person I see all to frequently parents who do not care, or who choose not to work harder to procure the extra support that their children may need.

Corey said...

Oh my head. You HAVE to make this into a movie over at


bbbunch said...

Oh my...I have not laughed that hard in...well, I can't remember! I had to read it to Beau. Good stuff (except for the fact that it is true...and THAT part is just saaaaaaaaad!)


Janet said...

Oh boy I thought it was bad here getting request for money every other day for this or that but nooooo you have me beat lol. Tamar is in ESOL but the meeting I had was nothing like that, I don't think she partakes in the weed.

Steph, G's Mom said...

L'ing My Frickin A Off!!!!

OK i'm assuming that since you actually took the extra step to mention that the psych didn't really say "after i smoke a doobie in the parking lot" that since you DIDN"T point out that the ESL DIDN"T actually say "since i have 4 degrees two of which are advanced" in every sentence ,that she DID say it? I mean even ONCE is hysterical.

the whole thing was just hysfrickinsterical. too bad it's real life!!!


Sarah said...

Hey Ania--thanks for the support and feedback. This is such new territory for us, every bit helps :)

Steph-- Kid you not, that woman dropped her degree status about every other sentence throughout that meeting. Several times she listed the specific degrees and their accompanying institutions, but I zoned on that part. However, I do know that she paid off student loans from 1992 through 2007, and that's why she was able to begin her adoption from Bulgaria. Sheesh! And all I can say is, that I'm glad I have the ESL lady on my side, lol!

Marta said...

Oh my, I laughed. And yes, there are people out there 'helping' our kids, and yes, they are this crazy!

Anonymous said...

Although I am only 1/4 as smart as the well-meaning ESL person (I only have one degree and it is not advanced), I think you could have legitimately told them all we do speak Spanish. I took 3 years of it in high school and, on a trip to Spain to tourist destinations I exercised strong skill mastery, saying useful phrases like "where is the bathroom" and "pardon me, I do not speak Spanish" and "excuse me, do you speak English", all of this in spanish!

I do think it is great that everyone is well meaning. I appeciate the fact that you, the teacher, and others (like our pediatrician and counselor) are strong advocates for Keenan. He's lucky to have so many persons in his corner (I am in his corner, too, but don't offer much help in this category aside from doing what Sarah tells me to do- I am in el darko since I only have the one degree!)

-Mr. "Guam, where America's day begins, even if you aren't aware of it!" :)

ManyBlessings said...

You are wicked funny!! =D Too bad it's real,huh?

Now off to smoke my doobie.

Just kidding. ;)

mama bear said...

Thanks for the laugh....and the flashbacks. Ugh.