When Yaya was in grade 3, she was selected for the gifted and talented program and the mother of one of her classmate went all the way to the Ministry of Education complaining that the teacher was partial to Yaya because both of them are Asians! There was a review, followed by the WISC (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children ) and it was agreed unanimously that Yaya was the right candidate for the program and there was no partiality.

Having studied in India, I know how partiality works. Teacher’s pet always won. You don’t really need to be outstanding, sometimes, all you need is to have a parent who is a teacher or a really smart older sibling  and under his/her glory you can bask and shine and you are all set to achieve glory. I used to feel so bitter seeing how easy it was for some students to get the highest marks while I worked my ass off and still got the second best. Eventually I learned that there was no point in fighting a losing battle and worked to ensure that I did well in  the exams that aren’t controlled by my teachers ( externals) such an extent that I gave empty answer sheets to all the class exams. Of course it was a sure way to ensure that the teachers hated me and my guts and would do anything to make my life miserable, but still it felt good knowing that I wasn’t letting them win by showing partiality to the kids who sucked up to them.

Living outside India with all the rights the constitution is supposed to grant to ordinary mortals, one would expect that at least there won’t be any partiality. Not so.

I learned from my experience that although there are so many checks and balances to ensure that the system is fair to all, there are many ways teachers can make children’s life miserable. We came to Australia when my son had just completed grade 3 in Canada and was placed in the last term of grade 4 ( in a 4/5 split class) in Australia. He was already in advanced maths program in Canada and in the three months of grade 4, he completed the grade 5 maths here. The normal way is that the kids who are excelling in a subject continue to the next level and in my son’s case it would be grade 6 maths in grade 5 class. But his grade 5 teacher refused and wanted my son to do the grade 5 maths again. ( She was just lazy and  didn’t want extra work). My son said, he didn’t want to go to the school if he has to do the grade 5 maths again and I had no choice but to go to the Dept of Education and the teacher was reprimanded. ( there were other issues as well). But in all these, what I didn’t know when I went to the dept of education is that the said teacher is the union representative and is the sister in law of the school principal. And the principal went on a two year witch hunt and my poor child was picked on for every little thing. There is no way I would claim that my son is a paragon of virtue, but at the same time a lot of things the principal picked on him was unfair to him. During recess, one of his classmate ‘girl’ kicked on his shin and my son had Osgood Shlatter ( growing pain and swelling of the knee) and  it hurt a lot ( emotionally and physically)and he told her I will tell on you. Apparently, that is bullying..not the kicking part, the ‘I will tell on you’ part. According to the principal, it was an accidental kick and my son shouldn’t have emotionally bullied a girl !

Then she placed my son in a grade 6/7 split when he was in grade 7. There were 4 other grade 7 classes, two of which had teachers who are in charge of the maths acceleration program. But the Principal chose to place my son in the lower class ! and according to her minion and the union representative, the principal\s decision was final..and I threatened to sue the school ( I would have, it wasn’t an empty threat)and eventually the principal moved my son from the grade 6/7 split to grade 7 ( but still didn’t place him in the class run by the maths acceleration teachers). I told my son to just grin and bear because this witch hunt was taking a toll on both of us and also told him to watch his back all the time. The checks and balance was there, but it doesn’t work when the people who are in charge of the balance manipulate it to use it to their advantage.

And now the problem is again for Yaya. Her current teacher has favourite students and yesterday she gave Yaya a B+ for Spanish and A+ for her favourite student. According to Yaya, both of them have made the same mistakes. ( and I do remember her grade 3 incident and know there is probably another side to the story, however, Yaya wouldn’t tell me something unless she is absolutely sure that she is right) For Yaya, the grades she gets the next two years will have a major impact on her future and I know how she feels. I even tried to get her to suck up to the teacher and as apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, like her mother she too refused.

I don’t know how to deal with this. If I go to the authorities, then I am scared that Yaya will suffer the consequences like my son did. If I don’t, then I failed my child.


9 thoughts on “Partiality

  1. I cannot believe, that you would/went to dept of education for a grade/class. When you say that teacher/principal are partial to your kids, why do you think they are partial to your kid? Lets say, they are not favourites, but why are teachers and principals are -ve-ly parital to them? what have they done/said that you feel no they donot like them. It takes lots of effort on school staff’s part to do bad to a child for no particular good reason, as they have to take the wrath of the parent. Why would they go to that length to punish a child. This is a bad practice as a parent, to present the world to the kids, that whole world is against them and every one is out there to GET them. May be you should teach them to understand that it is ok to not get you way sometime and failure is a way to rise above again. Do not turn them into victims and oh..poor child you are tolerating so much because of this bad teacher and principal!!!

    • Joan: The 6/7split class means, the teacher spend half the time teaching the grade 6 and the other half teaching the grade 7 every single day. The idea is that if a grade 7 child is struggling, you place them in a 6/7 split class, so they can still learn when the teacher teaches the grade 6 and catch up. Usually the school places the smartest grade 6 students in a grade 6/7 split class, so they too get the benefit when the teacher teaches the grade 7. My son is identified gifted. Boredom is one of the biggest issue with him and the school system has to work to ensure that children like my son stay in school and not end up in the street. ( Most gifted children end up as failed gifted) If he was placed in a 7/8 split when he was in grade 7, it would have benefitted him, but not 6/7. What was he suppsed to do for half the day when the teacher was teaching grade 6 class? The principal did it, just because she could do it and get away. Ideally I would like to say things like this don’t happen. But it does. It has nothing to do with being a victim. I have taught my children to fight for what is right and in this case I was right. My point was not to portray my children as victims, but to show that sometimes, much as you try, you still find obstacles from people who are meant to remove them. The only advocate my children always have for them is their mother. It is my job and my right to go to the dept of education to fight for what is right. I don’t understand why fighting for rights is unbelievable? ( Luckily Rosa Parks didn’t think so!)
      Here is the education Queensland guidelines for gifted students.
      My son has been identified gifted by the Education Queensland ( He was already identfied in Canada, but his grade 5 teacher was hoping a for a different result and asked for another set of tests to be done, which were done here and again he was identified as gifted)
      As you can see from the above guidelines, my son has the right to Curriculum provision
      For gifted and talented students where the curriculum is set at a level, pace, degree of abstraction and
      complexity beyond learning expectations for their age peers. Curriculum provision for gifted and
      talented students addresses their specific learning needs such as:
      a faster pace
      processing more complex information and use of higher order thinking
      opportunities to engage in learning with students of the same or higher ability
      opportunities to undertake challenging work which enables them to develop strategies for
      persevering with difficult problems. How was my child supposed to get any benefit in a 6/7 split class when he was in grade 7? What support he would have got from peers who are a year younger than him, that too in his last year at the elementary school? The principal deliberately placed him in a lower class, depriving him an opportunity to even have friends from his previous year class. ( there were two other grade 7 students in the 6/7 split class, one a girl with learning disability and another a new student from South Africa.
      And So, just to be clear, I am not ashamed to fight for what is due..

    • I do not agree.schools are not always run by people with high ideologies. They are run by normal people who are prone to jealousies, grudges and the lot.just because the principal said something it is not sacred. It is up to the parent to make sure the kid I’d not adversely affected

        • Unlimited random thoughts: If you fight for your child, then you are a pushy mother. If you let it go and your child suffered, then you were a bad parent who didn’t care..It never ends.. As for me, I will always fight for what I think it is right. I was a gifted student with an extremely high IQ and I had such a miserable time at school.. I will not let my children go through that. PS, Yesterday I was talking to someone over whatsap program to fix my pc..and each time I typed the word PC, it autocorrected it to PCM, even when I tried to corect the PCM TO pc

  2. I am not here to create 2 sides, just to present the side that there a cost attached to every battle and one needs to pick their battles carefully. I am mom to 2 kids and so far I know, my older child is extremely intelligent. His reading and comprehension level is grade 8 (tested by school), he is in grade 2. His math skills easily surpass grade 5, as we do grade 5 materials at home. I have warned him not to talk about that high level stuff at school, while he is doing his regular curriculum, plus he may disrespect/interrupt his peers, knowing he is above them. He goes to school not only for education, but to learn to respect others, work in a team environment, respect authority and follow rules of a setting, being organized, returning his homework on time (even if it takes him 1 min to finish it), not being aggressive and unruly. All these traits are also very important to be able to work and get good education in esteemed institution. No one likes to be around/work with people who argue, do not respect authority and in places like USA, can put you in lots of trouble. Such people even have trouble making healthy relationships. If school puts him a lower grade/class, I will ask for a reason, why school made that decision. I am sure they will have a good reason for that. I know they do not have any grounds for treating my kid poorly. I would like to hear that reason objectively. My son was asked to do the Grade 4 math, but I declined to send him to that class, because he probably is not ready to deal with grade 4 kids, emotionally. He is not going to lose all his intelligence, because he is not going in 4th grade for math. It could become a host of many issues, if I did. For a long successful run, a kid needs to have good mental health as well as emotional and physical health, intelligence the last. He needs to see a parent relaxed and not freaking out at everything. In the same country, where Rosa Park fought for a seat in the bus, now we get up and give our seat voluntarily, when someone needs it. Battle is not always an option. It makes kids harbor anger, makes them aggressive towards the very people they work every day. I would not inject that poison in his brain for anything.

    • Joan: So, let me get this straight. Your son was promoted to grade 4, you declined because you, as his mother knew him well and thought he wasn’t emotionally ready to study with grade 4 students. My son was demoted to grade 6/7 split and I delined because he wasn’t given an opportunity to have peers of his own age and not even a single classmate from his grade 5 and grade 6 and keeping him in a lower class without his peers would have affected his emotional needs. In your case the school accepted your decision to decline the offer, in my case the school refused to accept my decision and I threatened to sue them (knowing very well that I will win the case if it went to the court). Isn’t what is good for goose is also good for gander? Just as you know what is good for your son, so do I. But according to you, I mustn’t fight for my child and I am to assume that if your son’s school forced you to send your child to grade 4, you would have accepted that decision graciously.
      As you pointed out that now people will give up the bus seats to needy, don’t you see that it was a positive reaction to Rosa Park’s fight. No one is sitting in the bus seats complaining that Rosa Parks was wrong and they will not give up their seat. No one is bitter..Rosa Parks’ decision to fight brought a positive result. Why do you assume that just because I fought for my son, my son will end up as a bitter looser? My son knows he can count on me any time and that is best gift you can give your child. As for the rest of the comment, every mother sends her child to the school for the same reason as you mentioned. You aren’t the first and you wouldn’t be the last. All mothers want their children to have friends. learn to follow rules etc. Sometimes some mothers just have to stand up for what is right. You would too, if you faced the same situation.

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