Memoir, Pop Culture, Princess, Rants, Raves, Suburban

Leave me alone…please.

Yet another reason why some animals eat their young.

Yeah, no one likes to be awakened at noon on a beautiful summer day, MOM!!!
The Heir: Yeah, no one likes to be awakened at noon on a beautiful summer day, MOM!!!
Did you see that?! It says, "Dad"...not "Mom"...not "Dad". I win!!!
The Spare: No barging in! (Did you see that?! It says, “Dad”…not “Mom”… “Dad”. I win!!!)



Rants, Raves, Suburban, Teacher

10 Simple Things You Can Do To Help Your Child Get a Better Report Card (and lead a happier life)


It’s that most wonderful time of the year…report card time!

I jest, of course. Report card time is often a stressful time for children, teachers, and parents alike.

After report cards come home, the question parents most often ask is, “What can I do at home to help my child?”

They think the answer is going to be complicated and involve expensive tutoring support. And sometimes these things are necessary.

But in many cases, there are some simple (free) things you can do at home that will make a positive difference in the classroom. They aren’t based on rocket science and they’ve been proven time and time again by people way smarter than me (people like scientists and psychologists).  They don’t just help kids get better grades…they help them to become healthier, happier people. And in the end, that’s really what we want, isn’t it?

Keep in mind that these suggestions are designed for parents of elementary school children. Once your child hits middle school, you want to have good habits and attitudes ingrained.

  1. Make sure your child gets enough sleep. Get the TV and the game system out of their bedroom. If they have a phone, have them turn it off and leave it in the kitchen at bedtime. You want your child to have a restful sleep so they are ready to learn once they get to school. Kids can’t focus on learning when they are tired.
  2. Get your child to school on time. It’s disruptive to everyone when kids arrive late. And it’s often the same kids who arrive late every day. I get it. You’re saying, “Oh, but it’s just so hard to get out the door on time.” Uh, yes, it can be. But you need to make it a priority. By consistently allowing your  child to be late, you are teaching them that punctuality is not important when it is.
  3. Help your child with personal hygiene issues. Check them out before they leave the house. (I often do the sniff test with my kids.) Body odor, dirty clothes, bad breath, basically anything that involves bad smells, is going to make your kid a social pariah and a target for bullies.
  4. Teach your child that everyone has strengths and challenges. Your child may be good at math but struggle with reading or vice versa or both. Make sure they know that this in no way measures their worth as a human being or anyone else’s worth, for that matter.
  5. On that note, make sure your child understands that neither their self-worth and nor your love is tied to a grade on their report card. Remember: no one will be checking their grade four math mark when they are applying for college or their first job.
  6. Teach your children that popularity comes with both power and responsibility. If your child has been blessed with a leader-like personality, help her to use this power for good, not for evil.
  7. Keep an eye on what your child hears, sees and reads. There is a reason movies and video games have ratings. Movies that are rated R are not for children. Video games that are rated mature are not for children. Grow a spine and say no.
  8. Sexy lingerie is not for little girls, it’s for grown women. Even though they make thongs and lacy bras for the pre-teen set doesn’t mean you have to buy them. It’s not cute…it’s wrong. Same goes for Playboy t-shirts and sweatpants that have “Juicy” written across the butt. If she begs, see #8 for advice.
  9. Healthy food makes for healthy minds and bodies. If your child is coming to school already jacked up on a sugar-fueled breakfast (or worse, no breakfast) we are already at a disadvantage.
  10. Finally, don’t trash your child’s teacher in front of your child. The fact is, unless you can negotiate a class change, your child and his teacher will be spending more daytime hours together than the two of you. Be part of a team – your child’s team.


Memoir, Princess, Suburban, Teacher, Uncategorized

Roots and Wings – Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

writing66Yesterday, I put my 14-year-old son on a plane and sent him 1,400 km across the country.

No, I haven’t completely lost my marbles. (If that were the case, I would have put his brother and his father and his senile old dog on the plane with him.)

He’s actually taking part in a week-long national program for youth called, Encounters with Canada. I already miss him like crazy, but I’m not worried. I’m confident that he is going to have an incredible experience. And it’s not just because he’s 14 going on 40 or because the program has been running for 31 years or even because his cousin just got back and said it was, like, totally awesome.

It’s because I know he’s resilient. He’s got the roots;  it was time for him to stretch his wings.

In his new book, Building Resilience in Children and Teens, Kenneth R. Ginsburg, says adults need to help children develop the seven crucial ‘C’s:

  1. competence
  2. confidence
  3. connection
  4. character
  5. contribution
  6. coping
  7. control

Ginsburg, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, says helping children develop these seven character traits will not only help them succeed in life, but it will also allow them to bounce back from whatever challenges life might throw at them. It makes them resilient and gives them roots.

To me, teaching is much like parenting. We need to trust that by the end of the school year, we have provided our students with the solid foundation they need to move confidently to the next grade or stage of their life. We also need to have faith that someone else will pick up the line once we let go.

As the end of June looms near, teachers often begin to panic. We worry that we haven’t given our students everything they need to be successful once they leave our classroom. We fret and wring our hands and say, “I don’t know what will happen to little Teddy in September when he goes into grade 1 (or 3, or 6 or 12 or university). He won’t get this kind of support next year.”

And yet he will.

One of the joys (?) of never having a permanent contract is that I have had the opportunity to work with students and teachers at almost every grade level, including a stint teaching ESL at a university. And I know that while elementary school teachers work their butts off to help their students, so do middle-school teachers and high school teachers. Even university and college professors will spend one-on-one time with struggling students. It’s something all good teachers have in common.

Letting a student or a child move on without us doesn’t mean we are throwing them to the wolves. It means that once we’ve done our job, we have to step back and trust. We have to trust that we have planted deep, strong roots that will help our children feel solid and secure and grounded. Then we have to trust that our children will remember these lessons and use them to guide their decisions.

Dr. Ginsburg says our goal should be to “think in the present and prepare for the future”.

He says that as teachers and parents we should aspire to help children become successful 35-year-olds. We shouldn’t always be thinking about the next grade or the next stage, but instead about how all of these experiences will come together to create an independent, self-sufficient happy adult. It’s about raising our children to be emotionally and socially intelligent.

Loving parents and strong teachers naturally give their children roots. That’s the easy part. Giving our children wings is a little harder. It means you have to let go. We spend so much time holding our children tight and keeping them safe, that letting them go seems to go against the very laws of nature.

It’s not easy, but when you let go and you see them soar?

It’s worth it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have to go see if my son texted me. (He can fly free all he wants but he still has to touch base with mom every night.)


Memoir, Pop Culture, Princess, Raves, Suburban, Teacher

The Sunshine Award – Yes, it’s all about me.

Sunshine Award

You like me! You really like me!

It appears I am a Sunshine Girl! A lovely lady over at
nominated me for this blogging award. She follows me, I follow her – everyone wins by getting to read interesting posts on a regular basis.

I’m not really sure what a Sunshine Award means, but it’s a very pretty icon and I guess it’s better than a kick in the pants, so I’ll take it. Hooray for me!

The award comes with some rules that I must follow. They are:

* Make sure to post this award on your blog site. – Done
* Nominate ten fellow bloggers. – Done (see bottom of page and everyone over on the side, as well.)
* Please answer the ten questions. – and…Done-er-i-no.

1. What inspired you to start blogging?

I was tired of stifling my voice. As public servants and members of a union, teachers are expected (and actually required, in most cases) to keep their opinions to themselves. As someone who is, how shall I say it nicely, not exactly quiet about her opinions, I needed a place to vent, share and express myself.

2. How did you come up with a name for your blog?

I have always wanted to write a book called, Confessions of a Suburban Princess. I figured this blog would put me on the road to that goal. But the name, Suburban Princess, was already taken, so I tagged ‘Teacher’ on to the end and decided I actually prefered it.

3. What is your favorite blog to read? She makes me laugh with every post. She also inspired me to write this blog. After I read her best-selling book,  I thought, “Damn! That girl is crazier than a cat in a paper bag and she wrote a blog and a book. Maybe I could, too!”  Check her out…you won’t be sorry.

4. Tell me about your dream job.

I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up but my dream job should include beagles, George Clooney, wine and chocolate.

5. Is your glass half-full or half-empty?

It’s usually completely empty…I’m a chugger.

6. If you could go anywhere for a week’s vacation, where would you go?

Barcelona, Spain.

7. What food can you absolutely not eat?

Liver. It’s disgusting. I had to eat it once a month when I was a teenager because my mother was convinced it would raise my iron levels when I was men-stru-ate-ing. Helllooo? Had we not heard of iron supplements in the 80’s?? There’s really no need to eat an animals’ internal organs.

8. Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

I’d like to say dark because it’s politically correct and all, but no…I could eat milk chocolate until it flowed from my orifices like lava. Pour it overtop of a soft gummy bear and you have my heart forever.

9. How much time do you spend blogging?

Not a lot. I don’t like it to get in the way of my “Vampire Diaries” watching.

10. Do you watch TV? If so, what are your favorite shows?

Of course I watch TV…what do you think I am? Amish? I LOVE TV and now that I have Netflix, I may never go back to work. I’ll just sit at home, eating my milk chocolate, watching series after series…ahhhh, bliss. Favorite shows? Vampire Diaries, Days of our Lives, The Good Wife, The Mentalist, What not to Wear…yes, I am an intelligent girl.

That’s it for the questions about ME. (Sadly.) And now, for the final part of this assignment: ten of my favorite bloggers. Check them out, if you have time on your hands that you don’t know what to do with. Also: I love the people down the side of my blog. They are cool, too. Enjoy.












Memoir, Pop Culture, Princess, Rants, Raves, Suburban, Teacher

Why I can’t get cocky about my mental health.

writing34You should never get cocky about your mental health.

I should know. For the most part, I’m a confident, easy-going woman. I have an amazing family and a ridiculous number of incredible friends. My life is full of an abundance of riches.

And yet I’ve suffered from depression.

Mental illness can strike any of us. It doesn’t discriminate.

I’ve seen an 8-year-old boy crawling on the floor, barking like a dog because of a mental illness that has been made worse because of years of abuse and neglect.

I’ve seen a teenager who has suffered with anger issues and hormonal imbalances all of his life, suddenly discover drugs and spiral out of control.

I’ve seen a big, strong, confident man brought to his knees by depression.

Thousands of stories just like these play out every day, all over the world.

And yet many suffer in silence, too ashamed to admit that they have a problem. They are afraid of what other’s might think or how it might affect their position at work. And some of these fears are valid. Individuals still face the possibility of discrimination and recriminations when they disclose a mental illness.

Sometimes though, people do get the strength and the courage to reach out for help for their spouse, their child, or themselves, only to be told that help isn’t available.

They are often told that the wait-time for mental health services is months away. That’s too long a wait when you are on suicide watch for your 13-year-old daughter.

As a teacher, I often hear those in the “back to basics’ camp calling for less focus on helping children understand their feelings, so that more time can be spent on their math and spelling skills. They say it like self-esteem is a dirty word. As any teacher knows, a student with a mental health issue is a student who isn’t learning like they could. Our first priority as teachers is for our student’s well being. End of discussion.

Bell Canada started the Bell Let’s Talk fundraising campaign in 2010 and has since committed to investing $62 million in Canadian mental health initiatives. Some have criticized Bell, saying their campaign is nothing more than a marketing strategy designed to promote their brand and their products.

To that I say, well…duh. It’s marketing 101, not rocket science, people.

But if their program helps reduce the stigma around mental health and the money donated allows more access to quicker mental health services, then I don’t care why they are doing it.

You see, I’m one of the lucky ones. I have the financial means to access treatment, be it therapy, when needed or medication, when necessary. I also have the support of loving friends and family.

But I know how privileged I am.

Many Canadians don’t have that. Which is why we need to be there for each other.

So, thank you, Bell.

And Canada?

Let’s keep talking.


Princess, Rants, Raves, Suburban, Teacher

Snow Days – Every job is different


Today was a Snow Day. Capital “S”, capital “D”, which means students and teachers in our school district had the day off.

This also means the haters were out in full force once again on talk radio (or as I call it, Old Man Radio). Teacher-haters love Old Man Radio. It gives them a chance to publicly air their views about all the wrongs they see in society. Most of which are caused by lazy-ass teachers.

I wish I could host that radio show when these issues come up.

“School’s cancelled again, which means teachers get a day off! It’s crazy! Why should teachers be allowed to stay home when I have to go to work?!” shouts the irate caller, obviously taking a short break from his very important job.

“Oh, I see. So you think things should be the same for everybody?”

“Yeah, right. They should be the same.” The caller is happy now.

“So, everyone should make the same salary, work the same hours, get the same benefits, and have the same rules regarding their employment?”

“Well, no,” he stammers. “I mean, you know, every job is different.”


Every job is different.

writing17 scene-where-a-school-bus-slid-off-the-road-at-abercarn-178024589

There are so many jobs that I could not, would not, or choose not, to do.

As much as I would like to make the money that comes with being a surgeon, I didn’t have the brains or the desire to do all the work it takes to become one. Do I begrudge them their high salary and all the other perks of their job? No. I understand that in order to get those things, you have to do all the work beforehand and afterward and I wasn’t prepared to do that.

And as much as I would love to argue cases in a courtroom and learn all about interesting facts of laws, I know I wouldn’t have the ability to remain neutral. So, do I hate lawyers for doing what they do even though I wasn’t able to do it myself? Of course not. That would be illogical.

Someone in a high-end sales position can make my entire annual salary in bonuses and incentives. Does that annoy me? No, because I didn’t choose to go that route. I couldn’t sell ice cream to kids on a sunny day.

There are a million jobs that I think would be fascinating and interesting, but I know I’m not suited for them.

Here’s the thing: I don’t begrudge anyone the salary they make or the benefits they enjoy from their chosen career. I know that no matter what your job, there are ups and downs. Perks and pains. And people pick their careers according to what they want out of life. Do you want lots of money or do you want more freedom and free time? Do you want to help people, animals, or the environment? Everyone makes their own decisions.

I’m a teacher. I’m suited for that and I’m good at it. And I worked really, really hard to get to where I am today. Three degrees, student loans, numerous mandatory courses and workshops, and years of dead-end short-term contract positions just to get the opportunity for a full-time position.

Some people are suited to teaching. Other people are not. If you don’t enjoy teaching, if it doesn’t make you tick, you’re going to have a very difficult time in the classroom. If you’re doing it for the summer break or the rare Snow Day, enjoy that time, because you are going to pay for it the rest of the year.

That’s why it ticks me off when non-teacher-types complain about Snow Days.

Snow Days are magical for those of us who get to experience their joy.

Unfortunately, not everyone gets to have this experience. In fact, the majority of the population doesn’t. Most people have to leave their homes extra early in the middle of dangerous driving conditions in order to get to their job.

And I’m sorry about that. If I ruled the world, unless you were in a mandatory service industry (like fire, hospital or police personnel), I’d let you stay home until the plows cleared the streets and made it safe for everyone to get back on the roads. But since I don’t, all I can say is this.

Yes, teachers get the day off during a Snow Day. It’s part of the job. Just like cleaning up a child when they get sick on themselves. Or helping them through an argument with a friend. Or teaching them how to read when that’s the hardest part of their day. It’s a part of the job like writing report cards late into the night. And being cursed at by angry students and parents. It’s a part of the job like a million other things that make up the position.

I’m not going to complain about doing any of those things; however, I’m also not going to apologize for the occasional Snow Day or the summers off.

I have the job I chose and worked my butt off for. And for now…my job includes Snow Days.

UPDATE: March 1, 2015Are you a teacher? Do you want your say on snow days and other issues affecting teachers? Click here to add your two cents to a survey. It is completely anonymous and takes less than 5 minutes to complete. 


Princess, Rants, Suburban, Teacher

UPDATE: Peter Speight: We are never, ever, ever getting back together…like…ever.

UPDATE – Peter Speight, the sex-offender/former teacher in the New Germany, NS area, has agreed to resign and give up his teaching licence in exchange for a big whack of cash. The amount is confidential but it is on top of the $150,000 in back pay that he says he deserves. Whatever. He’s gone and the community of New Germany can breathe a big sigh of relief. Read more at:

lemonadeDear Peter,

Seriously, dude? Did you not read my last letter? What are you doing?

I get it. We all get it. You want your teaching job back. The same job you had before you pleaded guilty to sex charges. You want to come back and teach grade 3, in your old school, like nothing ever happened.  And you want your money back. The money you didn’t make…because you didn’t work…because you were fired…for pleading guilty to sexual offenses. (Do you not hear how crazy this sounds?)

If you had any doubts as to how people felt about you coming back, I would hope last night’s (court ordered) restorative justice session at your old school put those notions to bed. I read in this morning’s paper that more than 100 concerned citizens showed up to say they do not want you teaching their children – ever. The goal was to come up with a reintegration plan to bring you back, but as the coordinator of the session said after it ended, “we couldn’t get to that point because they were too heated about the fact they don’t want him back in the school.”

Peter, Peter, Peter. I’ve taught Grade 3 and let me tell you something about grade 3 students: they aren’t stupid. They hear things and they sense things and they will know on Day 1 that you are the guy who did that weird thing in his car with those ladies. And trust me: their imaginations will make what you did freakier than anything you could ever imagine.

They also aren’t wired to understand that you did something gross and weird a few years ago, but now you’re all better. Their sense of time is a little warped. To them, five years is like five days.

They may also be frightened of you because sex is something they don’t really understand yet. We don’t teach the ins-and-outs of sex until they are much older because most of them aren’t ready for that kind of discussion. What in the world could their parents tell them if they are placed in your class? “Well, dear, if he reaches for his zipper, grab your things and get the hell out of there.” Not a discussion I would want to have with my eight-year-old.

But I shouldn’t have to tell you this. You should already know this because you are an educated, experienced teacher. This leaves me to conclude that you are not rehabilitated. If you were truly sorry for what you had done to your community, especially the children, you would not be putting them through this shitshow. This quest for your old job has become a weird obsession that none of us understand. And we all know where your last strange obsession led.

Rants, Suburban, Teacher

An Open Letter to Peter Speight, former South Shore Regional teacher and admitted sex offender

Dear Peter,

I have been reading in the paper that you are trying to get reinstated as an elementary school teacher. As a woman, a fellow teacher, and the mother of two school-age children, I have a favor to ask of you.

Please. Stop. Now.

From what I understand, and correct me if I’m wrong, you were fired from your teaching job in New Germany in 2008, when you admitted to committing indecent acts. In an article in the Chronicle-Herald, you said you had gotten into a “strange habit” of masturbating in your car and then calling women over to watch. (

You said you never targeted children, which I’m sure was a relief to the parents of the children in your class. I also read that you were given a conditional discharge in 2009, which must have been a big relief to you. The South Shore Regional School Board fired you but you appealed that decision. An arbitrator was called in and said that you should only get a one year suspension without pay. The school board challenged that decision in court but, once again, the stars and the law were on your side and a Supreme Court judge ruled that no errors had been made in the original judgment. If I understand correctly, you are looking to get not only your job back but the money that you lost during your time off without pay? About $150,000, I read?

Now, I agree with Pierre Trudeau’s philosophy that the nation has no place in the bedrooms of Canadians. But, seriously dude, you left your bedroom, went out in your car and got busy in public. That’s not cool. And then purposely calling women over so they could see what you were “up” to? That’s less than cool, that’s against the law. And it’s nasty.

As a fellow elementary school teacher, I want you to think about what you’re asking here. Do you seriously expect parents to trust you with their children? It’s hard enough for teachers these days to earn the respect of parents without asking them to trust an admitted sex offender. I guarantee you, if you win this fight, it won’t end in the courts. When the class lists go up in September, your fight will start all over again.

As a woman, you should know that your story creeps me out. Not because you enjoyed sitting in your car, alone, pleasuring yourself. That’s icky but when you called unsuspecting women over to watch? That’s when you crossed the line into scary territory. I enjoy walking or jogging by myself during the day and I’ve always felt safe doing so. If I had been one of the women you had called over to your car to shock (?) surprise(?) scare(?) that sense of safety would be forever ruined for me. And I guess that’s my biggest issue here: we don’t know why you did it. What did you get out this? Was it a power issue? And how do we know the next time the urge hits you won’t grab the woman who comes over to your car? Just because no one was physically hurt, it seems that a legal slap on the wrist was enough. But trust me, those women who trusted you and came over to your car, no doubt thinking you needed help, are now less trusting and less secure when they are out alone. You did that.

Finally, as a mother, I know I couldn’t in good conscience send my child to your class every day and just cross my fingers that you were rehabilitated and that no other “stange habits” would pop up during the school year. I don’t know if you have children but there’s nothing more important to a parent than your child’s well being.

I am guessing that you became a teacher for the same reasons the rest of us do – you love kids and teaching and learning. And I get why you want your job back. No doubt you worked hard to get it and, by all accounts, you were good at it.

But, if you truly care about children and the teaching profession and your community, please abandon this quest to get your job back. You may have the law on your side, but it’s not right. Teach adults who can make an educated decision about whether they feel they can trust you.

Let it go, Peter. It’s time to move on.

Rants, Raves, Teacher

If we can’t direct the winds, we must adjust our sails – The case of Jeffrey Moore.

Chris Jeanguenat, Sailboats in Stormy Seas

It’s easy to understand why schools are built with wheelchair ramps – without the ramp, a child in a wheelchair would not be able to access the same educational services as other children his or her age. (Insert – duh! – here.) Even the most curmudgeonly among us would have a hard time complaining about taxpayer money being spent to install a ramp at a school.

When a child’s disabilities are invisible, however, that’s when things start to get confusing for some people.  A child with a learning disability has average to above average intelligence and, like most of us, has areas of strength but also areas of serious weakness. These challenges often require extra support, alternate programming and adaptations in order for that child to be successful. This, like anything else that steps outside the norm, costs money. And once you start talking money, human compassion starts to wane.

Recently the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favor of a family who took their child out of public school in British Columbia in grade 4 and put him in a private school when it became clear the school could not meet his special learning needs.

In the early 1990’s, Jeffrey Moore was struggling to keep up with his Grade 2 classmates. Despite extra help from his parents and teachers, Jeff could still not read. The school psychologist was brought in and it was discovered that Jeff had a learning disability – dyslexia, which meant he had great difficulty reading. She recommended that he attend the local diagnostic centre in order to receive the help he needed. Unfortunately, before Jeff had a chance to enroll, the local school board closed the centre. By this point, Jeff was suffering from low self-esteem, constant headaches, stress and was falling further and further behind his peers. His school was offering him the same services that other children with his issues were getting, but they weren’t enough. He needed specific services that his public school and school board were unable to provide.

Based on recommendations from the school psychologist, Jeff’s parents felt their only option was to enroll him in a private school for children with learning disabilities. So they did. It was expensive but it worked. Jeff’s reading improved and he was a much happier little boy. But his parents felt it wasn’t fair. They felt the government had a responsibility to provide an education to all students, even those with learning disabilities.

So, in 1997, Jeff’s father, Frederick Moore, filed a human rights complaint against the School District and the British Columbia Ministry of Education alleging that Jeff had been discriminated against because of his disability and had been denied “a service . . customarily available to the public”, contrary to s. 8 of the Human Rights Code, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 210.

Basically what Jeff’s parents were asking was for their child to be given the same chances as every other child to be successful at school. Because of his learning disability, he needed something extra in order to level the playing field. He needed a ramp upon which he could climb the hill that dyslexia had put in front of him.

This is the analogy Madam Justice Rosalie Abella used when awarding the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court in favor of Jeff and his parents.

Adequate special education, therefore, is not a dispensable luxury. For those with severe learning disabilities, it is the ramp that provides access to the statutory commitment to education made to all children in British Columbia.” Moore v. British Columbia (Education),2012 SCC 61.

The justices awarded Jeff’s parents $100,000 for the costs involved for his private schooling. Jeff, now 23, was awarded $10,000 for the discrimination he suffered.

Jeff’s father said he was driven to take the case as far as he could because he felt public schools had an obligation to help all children succeed.  Moore’s lawyer Frances Kelly said the decision sets a national precedent and sends a message to all public schools. “This is a warning to them that they have to comply with their duties under the human rights code to ensure that students with learning disabilities have the same access to education as other students.” (

The Globe and Mail published an editorial immediately following the ruling strongly condemning the Supreme Court for “overstepping its authority”.

The Supreme Court of Canada has opened a Pandora’s box for public school boards by finding that a British Columbia school district discriminated against a dyslexic child when, during a financial crisis, it closed a special-education centre that provided him intensive help in learning to read. From here on, schools, school boards or provinces could be forced to bleed other programs to meet court-ordered educational standards for special-needs students. (

On November 16, the Vancouver Sun published an opinion piece by Derek James From, a staff lawyer with the Canadian Constitution Foundation. It reads like diatribe from a right-wing American pundit. He notes that Jeffrey is now making a good living as a plumber and therefore, no blood, no foul.

Perhaps it’s Jeffrey, not the hard-working B.C. taxpayers, who should pay his father back.”

Wow – talk about totally missing the point. Jeffrey is making a good living now thanks to the fact that he was taken from his public school and put in a private school, at his parent’s expense, where his needs were met. Who knows where he would be now if his parents had not been able to make this commitment?

But Jeffrey Moore’s individual situation is not the point of this story. The Supreme Court of Canada has said that children with learning disabilities have every right to be taught the way they learn. I will repeat: Children have a right to be taught the way they learn. We have to stop cramming our little square pegs into round holes. It’s not working. These children have a disability that requires a “ramp”. Just because it’s not visible doesn’t mean it’s not there. And yes, it’s going to cost money. Probably lots of money. But the argument that this will hurt the so-called average child is bull-puckey. Any teacher who has ever taught a class that includes a child with a learning disability (and that would be every teacher in North America, I would guess) can tell you that having no support for that child affects every other child in the room. I have had classes where, no lie, half of my class had some sort of learning difference, some very severe, and classroom support was minimal. When those children don’t have the supports they need, do you know who provides it? The classroom teacher. And who suffers when the classroom teacher’s attention is pulled in one direction and then another? All of the children, even the so-called average kids.

This ruling by the Supreme Court may change the face of education. And I hope it does. We are going to have to re-think the way we do things. There isn’t an endless pot of money at the end of the rainbow. Things will have to cut and reduced. The status quo is going to have to change in order to meet the needs of all children. And so it should.

The winds have changed. It’s time to adjust out sails.

Read the full Supreme Court ruling (ie. the legal mumbo-jumbo) here:

Memoir, Pop Culture, Rants, Suburban, Teacher

Children do not fall off turnip trucks. It’s time for parents of bullies to get their heads out of their posteriors.

Children do not fall off turnip trucks. (I mean, I suppose literally, some do, in rural Mississippi or southern Ontario, but really, those things are freak accidents.)

Children do not come to school, empty vessels, only to be filled up by what they learn from teachers and peers.  As the old saying goes, children learn what they live. Don’t get me wrong: I know that sometimes, despite everything we do as parents, our kids will go off the rails. But then it’s our responsibility to do everything we can to get them back on track again. Sticking your head in the sand and saying, “Not my kid!” only makes things worse.

The issue of bullying has once again reared its ugly head with the recent suicide of BC teen, Amanda Todd.  This poor child, already suffering from depression, was bullied on-line, in school and out. Despite desperate interventions from her parents and her school, she still felt powerless and alone and eventually took her own life.

There is no doubt that schools have an important role to play in the prevention and treatment of bullying. Teachers and administrators see kids at work in the classrooms and at play on the school ground. And here’s a little secret: most of the time, teachers already know who the bullies are. There are a few, usually the charming kids who are good are being sly and flying under the radar, who come as a surprise but most teachers can tell within the first month of school who is being mean to whom without anyone having to come tell. And teachers deal with small acts of meanness and bullying everyday. It’s a fact of life when dealing with people in groups – kindness and nastiness will occur and hopefully the kindness will outweigh the nastiness.

The problem occurs when schools attempt to deal with the bigger issue of bullying. Bullying is not a one time thing – like two friends having an argument over what to do at recess. Bullying is when a person or group of people targets an individual repeatedly over time using aggression to humiliate or hurt their victim.

Parents are always very willing do anything they need to do once they find out that their child is the victim of bullying. But the scenario changes greatly when parents are told that their child is the bully.

“No. Not my child. My child wouldn’t do that,” they say.

 “I know it’s difficult to hear, Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” the principal tells the stone-faced parents. “But the other child said that your child has been taunting him, pushing him and stealing his lunch treats for weeks now. We have witnesses who have verified this.”

 “They’re lying. I asked my son and he said he didn’t do it and my kid doesn’t lie.”

 “Some of the witnesses are teachers and lunch monitors at the school. They said when they confronted your son he admitted it. He actually confessed everything to me and wrote a letter of apology when he was brought to the office.”

 The principal hands the parents a letter which they refuse to take.

 “I don’t care what that says,” the mother snips. “You forced him to write that. He said you bullied him into doing it.”

 “Mr. and Mrs. Smith, I know this is difficult,” the teacher begins. “But some of these incidents have been recorded on the school’s video cameras. We can show you those now.”

 “Those things can be faked!” the father sputters, turning red in the face. “I saw a thing on it on 20/20 about it last week. You people have had it out for my kid ever since he started at this school. All of his teachers suck and the other kids are mean to him. He doesn’t do anything. He’s the victim in all this.”

 At this point, the principal looks out the window and sees the child in question on the playground. She points this out to the parents and everyone in the meeting looks out the window.

 Young Billy is walking around the playground alone. Suddenly he walks over to another student who has his back to him and pushes him to the ground. The teacher on duty runs over and pulls him away just as he’s about to kick the other child.

 The principal gasps and shakes her head.

 “This is exactly what I’m talking about,” she says to the parents. “So what can we do about it?”

 The parents stand up and walk towards the door.

 “This is harassment,” the mother says.

 “You’ll be hearing from our lawyer,” says the father.

 They nab their son as he’s being brought into the office and tell him that he’s coming home with them.

“Wahoo! Freedom!” he shouts.

 As he’s going out the door, the kid turns around and yells, “See ya later, suckers.” And gives everyone the finger.

 Until the parents of the bullies take their heads out of their proverbial asses, the problem won’t get better. The most schools can do is implement short term suspensions. In reality, this usually means the kid gets to stay home and play video games all day, while the parents complain that once again their kid is being punished for nothing.

I used to work for an amazing woman who believed that, “everyone who is a pain, has a pain.” Kids who are happy and content with themselves don’t bully other kids. If your kid is bullying, you have a problem. Put your ego away and deal with it. Your child, and mine, is counting on it.