Saturday, May 31, 2008

Wendy Portillo Speaks, after a fashion

Here is the link:

According to Wendy Portillo:
1. Alex was voted out of the classroom for the rest of the day, not for good.
2. Alex was under a desk, pushing it up with his feet.
3. Second discipline referral that day.
4. Ms. Portillo wanted Alex to hear from other kids the impact of his behavior.
5. Ms. Portillo stated there are inaccuracies in a written report.

Alex's short list of crimes accused of by other students as noted by Alex to a police officer:
1. eating paper
2. picking his nose
3. eating his boogers
4. biting his shoelaces

Alex's list of bad things about Ms. Portillo as noted by Alex to a police officer:
1. She told Alex Barton that she hates him [at the time of the incident].
2. She scratched him.
3. She stepped on his shoelaces.
4. She pulled his shirt collar.

N.B. Ms. Portillo and other kids in the class refuted the last three allegations from Alex.

At least one parent has stated that Ms. Portillo is:
1. exceptional
2. caring
3. top-notch

My good friend Jeremy Crow (and those who are unfamiliar with his writing really ought to seek out his blogs) does not defend the teacher however he does point out that there has to be more to this story than is written. To that I certainly agree. I have to wonder if this incident was isolated or if it was a larger part of a long chain of incidents. Perhaps there have been other on-going issues and problems and this was the end result.

What the teacher did, as reported-- in my opinion-- was morally and ethically wrong.
This situation does bring up questions about inclusive education, the availability of aides in each classroom, teacher supervision, and the accuracy of testimony of children. I don't have any answers, just a bunch of thoughts and suppos-eds.

Seems to me that this incident surely was not the first indication that Alex Barton and Ms. Wendy Portillo were having a problem. As the adult and a teacher, Ms. Portillo has the responsibility to seek out supervision when there is a child that she finds extremely vexing in her classroom that she is either unwilling or unable to deal with.

The questions of inclusive classrooms vs. resource room pull-outs vs. special education classes I shall leave to those better qualified to answer.
My own observations are anecdotal in nature only and thus aren't anything to base a course of action on. Here I must point out that Alex Barton was in the process of testing on May 27th and now has been labeled as having Asperger's and A.D.H.D.

The question about the accuracy of testimony of children-- children are not always very accurate. There are court cases and things written about elsewhere that point this out. To wit, the McMartin case and the children satanic sexual abuse scares of the 80s and 90s hold some examples.

The question about the accuracy of testimony of the accused-- let's just say that adults have been known to be reckless with the truth in a cover-your-ass world. What will come of this remains to be seen. I gather from perusing other blogs that the Dr. Phil show folks
have called Melissa Barton, looking for an appearance on his show. And that Alex's mother is talking about suing.

Ms. Portillo continues under administrative duties as of this writing. And Alex continues to not attend school, apparently due to his mother's wishes. He did get to talk on the telephone with a schoolmate and will get to visit this summer.

radical sapphoq

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Voted Out of Kindergarten-- Alex Barton

The blond-haired little boy stared back at me from a photo distributed on the w.w.w. [w.w.w. = world wide wasteoftime]. In a parody of democracy in action, Alex Barton was voted out of kindergarten for the remainder of the school day last Wednesday. His crime? Having a neurological condition called Asperger's and some associated behavioral problems. The teacher-- a Wendy Portillo-- cajoled her class into voting. And reportedly had children describe what they didn't like about young Alex. One reported adjective was "disgusting." Two kids voted to keep Alex in the classroom that day. The majority voted that he be excluded. Alex who was just returned to the class from the principal's office for his behavior spent the rest of the school day in the nurse's office. Needless to say, Alex has not been thrilled about his experience.

Although folks on both sides of the issue have resorted to name-calling, what I find even more repugnant are the public comments which support Wendy Portillo in her actions. Her excuse ran something like teaching the children about tallying. I wasn't there but I have an opinion anyways-- bovine fecal matter to that. Was the teacher lying about the whys and wherefores of her ill-advised election activity a la Survivor fashion? Nah, she was just being reckless with the truth.

Yes, I know how difficult it can be to maintain reasonable discipline and order in any rowdy bunch of human beings. Been there, done that. Yes I am intimately acquainted with the cluster of symptoms which comprise Asperger's. Of course I know how aggravating it is to herd cats.

I also know the frustration of living with atypical neurology.

I do not belong to the Autism Squeaks camp. [Autism Speaks but not for me, a curebie organization of unhappy parents]. I don't understand why forcing eye contact is such a big deal to neurotypicals, don't wish to blend in, will not give up my passions, and certainly will continue to celebrate diversity. I hate all clothing that is not cotton. I detest polyester and nylon in particular. I don't use makeup or wear high heels. I used to stare at the dust specks illuminated by the sunlight pouring through a window. I was clumsy rather than graceful and the last to be picked for any gym class team. I have been accused of staring too long, daydreaming, having obsessions with the things that are of intense interest to me, being intense or too intense or thinking too much about weird things or the wrong things, eating food in a specific order rather than varying what is on the fork from bite to bite, eating the same thing for breakfast daily, not making small talk, not caring about small talk or the lives of celebrities, being a geek or a space cadet or pedantic, not fitting in. And worse, daring to be content with my own company and my own internal focus and my own way of being.

No Child Left Behind. One Child Voted Out.

radical sapphoq says: A huge phooey to Wendy Portillo. As an adult and as a teacher, I cannot believe that she didn't have other options for dealing with a misbehaving five year old.
While I support reasonable discipline and consequences for one's actions, I abhor what happened to Alex Barton. I sincerely hope that he will find a new classroom where he is valued for who he is, a teacher who knows about the issues that people on the broad autistic spectrum face and who has a better arsenal of tools for keeping order in a classroom.

Bev over at Autism Square 8 has an excellent list of who to write to should anyone feel so inclined:

Educate yourselves if you wish to. Here is a partial incomplete list which includes two news articles from the same newspaper in Florida and some other bloggers who are blogging about this crapola:

excellent thoughts about this whole mess

Laura Hershey

the politics of exclusion


an interview with Alex Barton and his mother

two Palm Beach Post articles-- links working as of 5/28/08


Saturday, May 10, 2008

No I didn't die

I've been one of the clone-drones participating in Linden Lab's SecondLife:

where indeed there are political discussions and pretty much everything else in the virtual world as there is in real life. There is even a group or two who protest the rampant consumerism that exists in SecondLife. Anonymous is there, replete with flying phantom boxes and pictures of old men getting it on with other old men and bedsores. Anonymous has land there on SecondLife (no I won't say where. Let's just say that as a bisexual woman, I am willing to ignore the ribbing of gays and feminists because I support Anonymous when it comes to Scientology.) A.A. meetings are there. So is an active Aspie community as well as some t.b.i. survivors.

A brief synopsis of what I think about some of the current events going on:

1. It appalls me that President Bush welcomed the Pope with such open arms. Used to be that fundamentalist Christians were equating the Pope and the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church with such things like the Beast, the mark of the Beast, and going to hell. Okay, so politically the President couldn't snub the Pope I suppose. But did Bush really have to go pick up the Pope himself? On the plus side, as far as I know, no rounds of golf were shared by the two of them during the Pope's stateside visit.

2. I am sorry that the government is giving most of us a rebate check because the country is in financial debt. On the other hand, I could use the money. Anyone who really hates the idea is welcome to send me their cash.

3. I am weary of the Clinton/Obama run-off. I want them to get it over with and just pick whoever is going to run on the democratic ticket. And I am not convinced that the country will be better off with either of those two as president (if the Democrats "win.") I mean, some folks wanted a Democrat-controlled Congress. So far I haven't seen any great things come out of this Congress.

4. I hate VESID.