Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Hard Truth From Orlando

Article in the news about the North Carolina English teacher
Rex Roland who labels his students’ homework with LOSER
when they make a mistake caught my attention. Apparently,
that’s not all he reportedly does. He allegedly threw a
student’s property into the hallway and is otherwise verbally
abusive. More important, it’s not the first time his conduct
has been brought to the school’s attention. The victim he’s
selected – and apparently is bearing the brunt of his disdain
– is a pretty little blonde, blue-eyed 11 year old girl. How
interesting. I wonder if he always selects pretty little girls
to torment. I wonder if his torment ends with degrading
remarks or if he’s grooming her for additional, more
physical abuse?

You know what I expect the school administrators to do?
Nothing. After all, it’s only one kid that’s complaining –
there’re however many other kids in his class that he’s not
abusing, so that kid must be wrong, or just too sensitive, or
just too dumb to keep up. Of course, the mother of this little
girl has hopefully been contacted by an attorney or two, and
the school and Mr. Roland are about to find out just how
expensively not funny and unacceptable his “loser” labels
and meanness really are.

Education was a priority in our household. I liked school.
I liked learning, but I have to say to this day, almost 40
years later, I remember my abusive teachers, not
lousy teachers, there were a few – but the truly abusive
ones. I was a good student. I was consistently at the top
of my grade, dean’s list, annual awards in languages, good
attendance, NEVER a disciplinary report. And you know,
I have always believed myself to be dismal in math and I
can tell you why; lousy, abusive teachers – which is ironic
as I was responsible for payroll preparation for hundreds
of government employees for years and years. And it’s
probably due to my lack of confidence that I triple-checked
and then re-checked every calculation – and had very few
errors in all those years of multiple payrolls. I went to college.
I took the minimum, dumbest math class I could and still got
my degrees – made deans list most of the time, too. There
were careers I was interested in, but the prerequisites
involved math – so I skipped them. I often wonder what
else I might be doing with my life if not for “loser” teachers
who got their kicks out of mangling kids instead of teaching.

My fourth grade math teacher, Ms. Clements, once pulled
me up in front of the class to tell me how difficult and sulky
I was when I repeatedly asked for help because I didn’t
understand the “New Math.” To my knowledge, I never
did anything to warrant her displeasure. Thereafter, she
made a point of ridiculing me in class. Her constant picking
at me didn’t stop until my mother started calling her every
day to get a progress report – in person – from Ms.
Clements. When my mother started making her explain
my progress and report on my classroom behavior every
single day, Ms. Clements left me alone. I got passing grades
and I never understood a thing that was being taught in her
class. And frankly, I never caught up and I never felt the
slightest confidence in my ability to learn math after that.

Then there was my 6th grade pre-algebra teacher, Mr. Riley.
He had a disparaging nickname for almost every one in the
classroom. He liked to walk by the desks and slap the long
wooden pointer against your chair to make you jump. He
enjoyed sending you to the blackboard to do the algebra
problems in front of everyone, especially if you were one of
the ones he recognized wasn’t getting it – then he’d get a good
five minutes worth of enjoyment by telling you how stupid
you were when you didn’t get it right. To my memory, he
never explained how to do a problem himself once. He left
up to you and the textbook to decipher. You know what I
learned about in his class? Nothing, except how much I hated
math and him. I don’t know how I passed his class, but I
hope to be around when his obituary is in the paper so I can
go spit on his coffin. He was a sorry excuse for a human
being and a teacher.

My brother and cousin, and later a nephew, all fell afoul of
another teacher named Mr. Griggs, the one who told my
mother that my brother was retarded and had no business
in school. This is the same brother who became project
manager of overseas armored vehicles assembly and
maintenance programs for a DOD-contracted American
corporation. What I find unbelievable is that the
administration kept this poor excuse of an instructor,
even after receiving reports of him having parties and
serving alcohol to his students at his residence.

I hope this child gets out of Mr. Roland’s class and gets
a decent representative of the teaching profession before
her confidence is destroyed. And I hope Mr. Roland gets
some serious psychotherapy. That guy’s a wrong one.

Florida Cracker

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