The setting - 4th period today. Wood Shop Boy is in this class. I call him Wood Shop Boy because his elective is wood shop, and he is forever showing me his creations from that class. He's actually quite talented, artistically and design-wise. He is not so great at math though, VERY teacher intensive. But he tries hard, is polite to everyone (except peers who get on his nerves), and calls me "ma'am." As a general rule, I hate being called "ma'am." However, I don't think I mind it when Wood Shop Boy calls me "ma'am." He doesn't say it like he thinks I'm a "ma'am." He says it like he thinks he is a kid and knows that whatever I'm telling him is for his benefit.
He is not the bad part of this week.
This past week. Students worked together to make a presentation that teaches how to solve a particular problem. Wood Shop Boy and his group walk up for their turn at the front of the room. All of a sudden, Under-Achiever Kid shouts out:
Oh yeah. Wood Shop Boy is hispanic.
It was not loud enough for everyone in the class to hear. But I heard it, and was livid. I only told him that his actions deserved a double detention at the time, but later I hunted him down and had a serious conversation with him.
Who is he to judge who he thinks belongs here just by the color of people's skin?
He is an immigrant himself. Immigrants work hard to get here. They have to learn a new language, new customs, new education and traffic systems. They have to find a job, and a place to live. They miss their own home, friends, family. But they still come here. They still stay here. There is a reason for that and it is not just because they like an over-abundance of fast food and gas guzzling cars.
By saying this, he just insulted every immigrant in that classroom, which includes many of this fellow students (not just Wood Shop Kid), his teacher - who is also an immigrant, and himself and his family.
Whatever the government is doing with their border laws is the government's business. Whether you agree with the government or not, publicly insulting someone on this derogatory level is absolutely unacceptable in my classroom.
Under-Achiever Kid quickly agreed to double detention and a formal letter of apology to Wood Shop Boy when I told him that if he ever does something like this again, I will personally see to it that he receives a suspension.
I was told later by the 8th grade counselor that handing out suspensions is not within my authority. No, I won't hand out suspensions.
But I can still present my argument for it to the VPs who do.
I don't expect Under-Achiever Kid to do this again - at least not while I'm around. But still. I was so shocked and so angry! I like this kid, he is super-smart and funny. I think that's what makes his actions today so very disappointing.