Jun 09 2011

Sidestep

by Robin Thicke

Today I was teaching 4th grade and had the opportunity to see what quilombo (an old school Brazilian Portuguese word that literally translates to whorehouse, but is used to refer to something that is a ridiculously large hot mess) surrounding public education for ELL students in my sill hometown that we’ll just call Wackistan for the time being.

So Wackistan is home to five colleges and it fancies itself to be the most liberal place on the planet (like writing a letter to Iran dissenting from Bush’s decisions liberal). Still, silly wackosity happens in Wackistan all the time. I happened to be in the computer lab with my students while they did end of the year academic progress testing (more on that later). I just happened to be checking on a student when the computer resource teacher found me to let me know that there was a small situation. I really didn’t understand how I could be of any help – but I obliged. She told me there was an ELL student who needed a translator (but said he didn’t want one) to complete the testing as he understands some English and speaks basically none. So I’m assuming she knew I speak Spanish – I asked the student what was wrong.

His “translator” after literally only hearing me ask him what was wrong told me my Spanish was better than hers and asked me to translate instead. WHY THE F@#$ IS SHE THE TRANSLATOR IF SHE DOESN”T EVEN SPEAK SPANISH???? No wonder the students was frustrated. The translators broken translations were such a quilombo (pronounced key-lum-bo) that he could understand neither her words or the written words of the test. Hell – if I were him I wouldn’t have done a damn thing. How did that translator get hired?  Public education (even under the best of circumstances like in wealthy Wacktown) is a quilombo and everybody tries to sidestep responsibility. This would have been such an easy thing to take some responsibility for. Maybe check if a translator speaks a target language before hiring them capisce?

Obviously I’m really comfortable sharing this information with the principal – but would I do the same in my placement school – I mean TFA teachers have a rep of being condescending, and that’s really not my goal, but homegirl straight can’t perform the duties of the job, and her poor, poor students is just getting totally screwed. Oy vey, ese quilombo.

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