I walked past the office on the way back to my room from lunch and noticed one of my students and her older brother sitting in there waiting for someone. They’re in different grades, so it seemed unlikely that they were both in trouble, and normally she’s almost annoyingly conscientious about letting me know when she’s not going to be in school, so it wasn’t likely that they were waiting for a parent to come pick them up unless something had gone wrong.
I stuck my head in and asked what was going on. She said she didn’t know. I glanced at the older brother; he shrugged too.
“Will you be back in class?”
Another shrug. At this point I asked one of the office staff, who gave me a don’t ask right now look and said that she’d be back sooner or later. Well, okay; not worrying about it right now.
She came back with about ten minutes left in class. Changed her seat to an isolation desk (I don’t have assigned seats; the kids can move whenever they want so long as they aren’t being disruptive. I’m also free to move them when they are being disruptive) and put her head down. She’d been in a perfectly good mood when I saw her last. I was swamped with kids wanting help with various things, so I left her alone for a couple of minutes, at which point it became clear that she was crying.
I pulled her out into the hall to find out what was going on. The crying quickly turned into sobbing hysteria; the kid was completely unable to even get a word out. It took ten minutes— during which time my classes switched, and I told my eighth graders to find the next section in their textbooks and teach themselves how compound interest worked– before I could even get her coherent enough to talk. What the hell happened down there?
I didn’t get much detail, obviously, but apparently child protective services had met with the two of them for some reason (not that I’d share it if I did, but at this moment I have no idea why) and toward the end of the interview had either asked them if they thought it would be better if they were removed from their home or suggested that it might be better. And she, understandably, freaked the fuck out. And, again, I have no idea why– I’ve never seen any real evidence that this kid comes from a fucked up household, although I’ve also never met or heard from her parents, and she’s a good kid so I’ve not had reason to contact them on my own. I sent her off to the counselor on a pass once I got her calmed down and went on with my day.
This post isn’t about that. This post is about my reaction when this sobbing child who has been in my room for a year and a half, and who I’ve watched blossom from someone who insisted on either a calculator or a math facts sheet when presented with the slightest challenge to someone who is, two or three days out of the week, one of the best math students in her class, told me that the reason she was crying was because someone had threatened to take her away from her parents.
My first thought was How dare those fucking assholes do this to me the week before ISTEP.
Do this. To me. Because clearly if CPS thinks this child has a reason to be removed from her parents, that is something that they are doing to me. Because apparently there is part of my brain that thinks my fucking test scores are more important than this child’s basic health and safety.
Fuck standardized testing. Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it. And fuck me for a soulless bastard for even allowing that shit into my head even if I have the decency to be ashamed of it afterwards.