Wanted: Ethical Teaching Aide to Stop Abu Ghraib, Jr.

Yesterday, I wrote about the disturbing incident at an Ohio elementary school, where a sixth grader was systematically mortified and subjected to ridicule because of the length of his hair. That was bad; this is worse.

A teacher at a New York City public school, P.S. 65 in the Ozone Park neighborhood, turned his fourth-grade classroom into a fighting ring and forced two children to duke it out.

Teacher Joseph Gullotta told the students, ages 9 and 10, that they needed to settle a dispute with a fist fight, under his supervision.  One student suffered a cut lip, the other a bruised and swollen head as their rewards for the January 28 fight.  Gullotta sent one of the injured boys to the school nurse, and told him to say he was hurt when he bumped into another student.

Gullotta is now under arrest, along with his teaching aide, Abraham Fox, who apparently witnessed the whole, sickening event. A teacher’s aide was involved in the humiliation of the student in Ohio, too. Do these people think “aide” refers to “aiding and abetting”? Neither of the two assistants were able to find the decency, common sense and courage to object to such blatant child mistreatment and either stop it or report it. What do they teach aides that their duties are? “Do whatever the teachers says, no matter how senseless, illegal or cruel”? If the teaching aides wouldn’t intervene, protest, threaten to call authorities, or take over the class under these circumstances, they have been trained to forgo all independent judgment.  Or perhaps they have had their character and values surgically removed or chemically neutralized. A teacher’s aide has a duty to look out for the welfare and safety of the students above all. This would undoubtedly come as a surprise to Fox or the aide in Ohio.

This is Kiddie Abu Ghraib, and it should be sounding alarms all over America, in every household that sends a child to public school, and in every school district and PTA. People are in charge of our children’s education and socialization who should not be trusted to take care of a gerbil, and their assistants have been trained to be ethically inert.

4 thoughts on “Wanted: Ethical Teaching Aide to Stop Abu Ghraib, Jr.

  1. Further to my comment about the humiliated boy at the Milford School because of the length of his hair, I can only say, “Aaauugh!”

    Don’t just fire Gullotta and his “aide” (or perhaps more correctly, “accomplice,”) Abraham Fox… PROSECUTE THEM FOR CHILD ABUSE. There is a Federal law (signed by Bill Clinton…smile) that states that when a person in power has sex with a subordinate it is ipso facto sexual harassment… Shouldn’t that same idea/tenet apply to teachers and their aides over students? One would think so, even if it hasn’t yet been codified into law.

    The fact that Gulotta then sent one student to the nurse, TELLING HIM TO LIE ABOUT HOW HE RECEIVED HIS INJURY, says everything about Gullotta’s motive, his knowledge about his wrongdoing, and his desire to protect himself against recrimination and prosecution.

    Who ARE these people in our public schools? And who are these “aides?” Who vets them? Parole officers? Mobsters with an “in” with the teachers’ unions? Overworked, bored, and uncaring bureaucrats? It doesn’t matter: find out who they are are get them OUT.

    Is this one case where the NYC teachers’ union will actually allow a teacher to be fired? Or will Gulotta serve out his term learning to knit or needle point or paint seascapes on full pay in some warehouse? Where are Jerry Orbach and Sam Waterston when we need them?

    But in the real person category: Rudy Giuliani! Step to the fore!

  2. Who would want to teach in today’s school environment? Teachers are hamstrung and micromanaged on so many non-teaching items, it discourages anyone interested in education to leave. Teaching today focuses on

    • Are your students present, document when everyone came in, when anyone leaves, and when they come back. The office will call at least 6 students/class period out of your class. Document when they left, why, and when they came back.

    • Are all of your students being fed at home? Better check to make sure. You can go to jail if they aren’t

    • Are any of your students being abused at home. Make sure, because you can go to jail if they are.

    • Do any of your students have any type of learning/behavioral disorder? If so, you need to identify it, get a proper individualized learning plan, and follow each individualized plan for each such student while still teaching the standard plan for the rest of the class.

    • Keep track of what assignments students haven’t turned in. You need to make a special effort in each individual case to prod, encourage, babysit, or whatever else it takes to get each of those assignments completed. Your district has a “Zeros are not allowed” policy and it doesn’t mean what common sense would indicate.

    • Don’t fail a student if they have a learning/behavioral problem, if they just haven’t turned in material (it is your fault that you couldn’t get them to turn it in), if you haven’t documented that you did everything humanly possible to make sure that they could avoid failing, or if there is a likelyhood that their parents will be angry that the student failed and come complain to the principal.

    • Keep order in your classroom. Your only tool available is your stellar personality. The students are just sponges that want to learn all that you can teach them. If they misbehave, it is because you aren’t a good teacher.

    •Teach material, but not too much or the parents will complain. Remember, students have other things to do after school than study or do homework. Make sure school won’t interfere with guitar, baseball, soccer, church, or after school job.

    Find someone who wants to work in such an environment. That is the teacher today. The teacher’s aide is often someone who has a teaching certification, but is required to put in several years as a dismally paid teacher’s aide before being hired for a full-time job. We would be better off firing the whole lot of them and hiring random, literate people from the phone book to teach directly from the textbook.

  3. I believe that the conditions teachers have to teach under discourages many of the individuals who should be teaching, leaving the field substantially to the desperate, underqualified, dull-witted, power-obsessed, and mean. There are wonderful teachers, of course, but they also are at risk of being driven out by the frustrations of dealing with the rest.

    Your ending suggestion is not as absurd as some might think, at least at PS 65.

  4. Pingback: More Outrageous Elementary School Abuse « Ethics Alarms

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