The real problems began in 2nd grade...
I just want to point out here that no child should be having problems with school in 2nd grade, at least not problems arising from school itself. Or from the teacher. The kids are just kids. I mean, they are really just kids, and the teachers... Well the teachers should be the adults. [Including when dealing with obnoxious kids in 1st grade. You don't dump them out of your class because you don't want to deal with them. (If you missed the first post, go back and read it.)]
This part is actually very difficult for me to write:
1. Because my inclination is to go into all of the details, both about how the school works (it's a charter school, so not a "regular" public school) and about all of the things that happened while my son was in this woman's class (a 2nd/3rd class group, so he was in there for two years), and that would take too long. That would have to be many, many posts.
2. Because the teacher was not just a horrible teacher but a horrible person, and a large part of me wants to delve into how horrible she was.
3. Because this teacher is directly responsible for my son hating school, something he's never gotten over.
For context, though, undermining a teacher's authority is one of the worst things a parent can do when working in their child's classroom. Usually, it's just the teacher's authority with their own kid, but I've seen it where particular parents have undermined entire classes. As such, it's something I'm keenly aware of and take special pains not to do. Because of this, and because it was at the beginning of my son's first year in the class, I didn't say anything when the teacher began teaching about the "original 12 colonies of the United States."
Honestly, the first time she said it, and because I didn't know her yet, I thought it must just be a slip of the tongue, and I figured she'd correct herself. The second time, I was still in the mindset that it must be a slip, because why would anyone say that? Any adult, that is. By the time I'd realized that she was actually teaching the class that there were 12 original colonies, it was much too late for me to say anything. As it turns out, that was probably actually a good thing, because she was one of those "I'm right because I'm the teacher" kind of people, and nothing good would have come from me trying to correct her in the middle of class.
Instead, on the way home, I explained to my kid all of the correct information. Also, I let him know that he should always ask me if he had any question at all about what he was being taught, which, upon occasion, he did.
But none of this was the problem.
The problem was that he was bored. Not bored of being in school, bored of the work. He was bored of the work because he already knew everything they were doing, and he was tired of doing the same old repetitious stuff every day. We had a long conversation about it so that I could be sure that that's what he meant and not the typical "I'd rather be outside playing" that you'd expect from a kid. The truth was that my kid would have rather been inside doing scholastic-type material or reading, but he wanted something interesting and something challenging to do. He hated "busy work," and everything they did felt like that to him.
Before I go on, there are two things you should know:
1. He's a perfectionist, so he's willing to keep working on something until he has it the way he wants it. Nothing is "good enough" just because someone else says it's good enough.
2. Also, he tends to be rather slow and deliberate with the things he does, even eating. He's almost always the last person to be finished. He doesn't believe in speeding through anything just to get it finished.
And did I mention he was bored?
He didn't want to do the work, and getting my son to do anything he doesn't want to do is like trying to stuff a cat into a toilet. He's willing to just sit and stare, lost in his thoughts about things he'd rather be doing, than do busywork or stuff he sees as a waste of time. [We've spent a good portion of the past eight years or so, everyday, trying to stuff him into a toilet.] Everything they were doing in his 2nd grade class, he saw as a waste of time.
One other thing of note that you should remember in relation to what I am about to say:
Whenever the teacher needed someone to read aloud in class, she always relied on my son because he was by far the best reader. By far. He didn't just read the individual words (as did most of the kids in the class); he read the sentences and was able to read with appropriate emotion.
Now, I knew that he was well beyond the material they were working on in class, but I hadn't known, until he told me, that it was an issue for him. After we talked about it, though, I went to the teacher. I didn't go to her with a request for him to be promoted to 3rd grade, though, because that wouldn't have affected any change in his situation. He was already doing 3rd grade math and already in the most advanced reading group in the 2nd/3rd grade class. All I wanted was for him to be given some more challenging work.
Look, I get how difficult it can be to deal with one kid who is different in a class of 20-30 kids. One child with special needs. It can disrupt the entire class dynamic. The problem is that there is no provision for children on the upper end of the spectrum. If it's a child on the lower end of the spectrum, we have provisions for that... when they can be identified, not that that always happens, but the help is there for kids with disabilities or behavioral issues or whatever. I knew I was asking something difficult, asking that my kid be given special consideration.
I also believe that that is the job of the teacher.
I say that as someone who has spent time in the classroom, not someone with some vague idea of what ought to be happening.
But I wasn't prepared for the response I got...
I explained that the work was too easy for him and that he was bored in class and that he needed more challenging work and... well... she stared at me then told me I was wrong. Not only did she tell me that I was wrong, she explained to me as if I was dense or a little on the dumb side that my child was learning disabled. Somewhere in there she dropped the word stupid. She cited how slowly he worked and that he was almost always the last kid finished with his work. I'm sure by the time she was finished I was staring blankly because I was having trouble comprehending that she was telling me the utter shit she was spewing in all seriousness.
Completely ignoring that he was the best reader of the 40+ kids in the 2nd/3rd grade block, completely ignoring that he was already in 3rd grade math, completely ignoring that he never needed help or further instruction on any of his work, completely ignoring that his papers were always 100% correct; she stood there and told me that my kid, because he worked slowly (and she didn't like slow workers), was developmentally disabled.
And that's where the real problems began...