DCTS Speak Out & Two Sisters

Via a Judy Reed email:

“We have failed our African American kids, and hence we have failed our schools and all our kids… efforts at reform have been a joke. Its time for outrage”. – Neil Heinen Editorial –
March 30, 2010
Dane County Transition School is sponsoring a Speak Out, the invitation is attached [PDF]. We are hoping those (students, parents, community members, educators…) who are passionate use this opportunity to voice their thoughts, ideas, and/or concerns for the need for more educational alternatives.
We are having the television stations, and the newspapers cover the Speak Out.
We are asking anyone who would like to speak to RSVP so we can order enough t-shirts, and plan the time accordingly.
Looking forward to seeing you at the Speak Out!
Judy & DCTS Community
* We have also attached a true story about two sisters; one who attends DCTS, and the other who…

Sisters-Two Different Journeys… One Given the Opportunity to Succeed…One Not…
A student approached me and said that she had a sudden revelation the evening before. She could not discuss this revelation in a public space, and requested that we talk in private. Her brows were slightly furrowed, but she had energy about her; like she had discovered her dream career, or that she had fallen in love with the boy next door. When we sat down in a small classroom, alone, I realized that she was not going to tell me about the love of her life, or that she wanted to travel the world to discover her spirituality; no, she was going to tell me something bad.
The dark side of a teacher’s career is getting to know the bad things about kids. In many circumstances, these bad things aren’t pleasant; they make us feel uncomfortable, angry, sad, or depressed. Nevertheless, it is our duty to not just instruct students on mathematics and science, but to be role models; or, individuals who understand and listen to other people. What may have been a revelation to this student, or a sudden explanation for so many things that have gone wrong in her life, was not parallel to my own feelings on the matter. Hearing the news that this student, Sara, remembered that she had been sexually abused as a child by a close family member, was completely disheartening. Her younger sister, Teresa, was also a victim of this heinous act.
According to the American Psychological Association Commission on Violence and Youth, “children and youths suffer more victimization than do adults in virtually every category, including physical abuse, sibling assault, bullying, sexual abuse, and rape.” In addition to this statistic, “long term effects of child abuse include fear, anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor self esteem, tendency toward substance abuse and difficulty with close relationships.” (Browne & Finkelhor).
Despite Sara’s realization that many of her troubles in life may be results of being a victim of sexual abuse as a child, she has made a lot of progress. Sara was given the opportunity to attend an alternative school, DCTS, for 2.5 years. During her time at DCTS, Sara has learned a variety of skills, from academics to social and emotional growth. She is now employed at a nursing home, is planning on earning her C.N.A license, and is taking the steps to enroll in college. Her sister, on the other hand, is in a different place. Teresa has been expelled from her home district 3 times; each expulsion occurred for different reasons. Teresa is currently not going to school, and her district has refused her access to the alternative school of her choice. Both Sara and Teresa have struggled with self-esteem issues (that at times were self-destructive), drug and alcohol abuse, cutting, and have experienced bouts of psychological symptoms related to depression. The difference between these girls is that there is no difference. Both were brought up in the same home, and experienced the same trauma. Both endured hardships related to their childhood. The difference lies in the system; Teresa has been denied the right to be educated in an environment deemed safe by her. Teresa deserves to learn, grow, and become a productive person; she deserves the right to attend an alternative school like DCTS. While Sara has learned to grow from trauma, Teresa is being pushed further into a dark, desolate hole.
It is shameful that our society forgets to place an emphasis on the needs of students; we say that we do, but when it comes down to it, we don’t. We don’t allow our students to learn from their mistakes, to learn how to be strong people, to learn how to advocate for themselves. The educational system has victimized Teresa in the same way that she was victimized as a child; she does not have a choice, does not have a voice, and her opinion is stifled. The miraculous thing about Teresa is that she has hope, a personality, and motivation. She is fighting the district to give her the school placement she deserves. The devastating factor is that Teresa has to keep fighting for something that our country perceives as a given right: an education.