Moulton Lava

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Location: New England, United States

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Heartfelt Public Prayer

A few days ago, Danny Wool posted a comment about a disturbing story that took place close to where he lives. It seems that a public school teacher in Port St. Lucie, Florida, allowed the classmates of a 5-yr old boy being diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome to rebuke him and vote him out of the class.

Amanda Baggs, who writes extensively about issues related to the diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders, has published her analysis of this heartbreaking story.

Very likely there will be a clamor to sanction the hapless teacher, Wendy Portillo, whose astonishing lack of empathy for her afflicted student is nothing short of disheartening.

But I'm not in favor of rebukes or sanctions. After all, that's what the classmates were visiting upon young Alex Barton at the behest of the teacher. So I can hardly countenance the same treatment for Ms. Portillo (or the faculty or the school bureaucrats).

To my mind, remorse is the most appropriate naturally occurring affective emotional state that immediately precedes a personal decision to revise one's practices, going forward. To my mind, public rebukes or sanctions would interfere with the process of coming to remorse, and are thus a contra-indicated treatment.

That leaves me but one functional alternative, which I now invoke.

I sincerely pray that Wendy Portillo's heart be softened and that she and her cohorts in the Port St. Lucie school system find their heartfelt remorse, and resolve never again to abuse their students or any other fellow human beings.


Blogger Nancy said...

Remorse is a good and necessary thing, but it alone is not enough.

When my son (at 9) was physically abused by his elementary school principal, the man's first response to us was remorse. He was sorry, he said. He shouldn't have lifted our son by the neck and squeezed hard enough to leave bruises, and he shouldn't have placed him in a walk-in safe and shut the door.

The principal had a lot of remorse, but it was temporary. In the end, the powerful (school board, principal, teachers) were able to paint a 4th grader as a troublemaker who deserved to be treated this way. You know this story, Moulton.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Moulton said...

Then we must not only pray, and pray publicly, we must encourage other parents to come forward and make this kind of reform a public clamor.

We must adopt the mantra I learned in my youth.

Never again.

4:05 PM  

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