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)..to 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.