Teacher Hands Out 'Ghetto Awards' to Poke Fun at Special Needs Kids (VIDEO)

Ghetto awardNormally when a child comes home at the end of the school year with an award in hand, a celebration is called for. When the prize in question is a “Ghetto Award," though, the only thing that needs to be called is the school superintendent’s office.

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The parents and guardians of special needs students at Sulphur Springs Middle School in northeastern Texas were shocked when their children brought home signed, official-looking certificates mocking their classroom struggles instead of their hard work: for example, the “Huh?” award brought home by one 14-year-old boy who struggled with confusion during discussions.

The Houston Chronicle also reports that Stephanie Garner, the second-year special education teacher allegedly responsible for the so-called awards, has offered to resign from Sulphur Springs in the fallout from what the certificates call the “8th annual” instance of this tradition (carried over from a previous teaching job) -- which raises the question of how many students have already been subjected to this kind of humiliation before anyone noticed.

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As a former teacher myself, I remember working to fill every precious moment of classroom time. In a school, minutes in the classroom are forever leaking away thanks to school assemblies, tornado drills, and other constant interruptions, so making the time you have count for you is incredibly important. And of course, sometimes there are things more important than talking about the cell cycle or photosynthesis – resolving a personal dispute between two children, for example, or honoring student achievement inside or outside the classroom. That a teacher could choose to use up that valuable time to have a laugh at the expense of learning-disabled children is not just shocking, it’s utterly disappointing. A class period could have been used to help edit an essay, rehearse a speech, or practice math problems – and instead, this woman thought it would be a great idea to use it to take out her issues on a group of hapless children.

Special needs students are undoubtedly already dealing with the standard sort of middle school harassment from their peers -- teachers should be stopping that kind of bullying, not participating in it at the expense of kids’ education and self-respect.

We also can’t ignore that the name “Ghetto Awards” evokes an uncomfortable racist overtone, especially in a school district with 38 percent minority enrollment. These children are in a special education classroom for extra support, and instead, they had their progress undercut by a teacher who prioritized literally everything else over her students’ well-being. The district needs to accept Garner’s resignation, and find a teacher who cares more about children than about her own twisted sense of humor.

What do you think of this "award"?

 

About the Author: Aimee Ogden is a science nerd, fake geek girl, and the mother of 1-year-old twins. She has 99 problems, and most of them involve comic books. You can also find her on Twitter.

Image via CBS

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