My youngest is coming to the end of year 10,this means the usual rounds of nights to go to learn of the different subjects, what is OP eligible and what is Vocational. Nights of sitting and listening to teachers some times drone on when really it would be more fun to stab your eye with a pen. But then the fun starts of going around the booths to talk to teachers individually, speak to older students etc.
After this is the interviews where the school discuss your selection. For us it was a disaster and heart wrenching as a parent watching my daughter think her dreams of going to University and becoming a PE teacher disappear. I had to convince her that it wasn’t over.
The teacher who did our selection said she couldn’t do OP as she had a D for English. I had previously wanted to talk to the English teacher about this but Daughter wouldn’t let me. He assignments and tests were all B’s and B plus, so how did she get such a low-grade?
The interviewing teacher then proceeded to speak about the advantage of her doing Vocational and doing a cert 3 in PT (personal Trainer). I said no she wants to be a PE teacher and by not doing OP how can she get into a university? We discussed the options, my daughter is sitting by me crying. What do you do? I strongly argued her case, I said if she does English next year she will lift her game. Teacher turns to her, tells her that he knew what she was capable of as he had her for one subject and didn’t want her to give it up. He said how when she was focused her work was wonderful, but sometimes she didn’t give it her all. He asked her why? She mumbled something about not always paying attention. He tells her that she can leave school at the end of the year and just go on the dole if she wants. This made my blood start to boil. I reminded him that we don’t have a society that does that any more, nowdays its learning or earning and she can’t do that, and that he is giving the impression that she is not worthwhile teaching.
He then corrected himself by telling me that the school policy is if they think they won’t get a good OP, they prefer them to do Vocational. I asked why? The response was that it upsets the students and they can feel like their studying life has all been in vain and that they feel like a failure. I said, Well welcome to the real world, so instead of standing by the kids helping them pushing them you want to kill their dreams at an earlier age?
He told me that is not the intention and that it is so that they can choice a path more suited to them. REALLY? Blood boiling a bit higher now, feeling the heat. I told him there is a different between the school policy which is about making it look good and the legislation in the state.
So we talked more and more and more. We called in on of the Principals who likewise told me that it would be better for her to do Vocational, I again said no, she doesn’t want to. I was told again about doing a Cert 3 and I went over it again. I was then told that as an Aboriginal, she could look for other opportunities towards getting into University if she really wants to. She said from her experience a lot of Aboriginal kid did Vocational. So the kettle started whistling. I said to both of these educators that we have fought hard to get into University, we have been excluded because of stupid idea’s in schools that our kids aren’t going to make it. I said that at the moment we seem to have a lot of kids doing Vocational, and that from my experience, I have seen too many Aboriginal kids think they are not capable and that they are dumb, because a school had put them in Vocational. I also said that when these kids realise that, this isn’t the case many of them get into the Universities and do well.
So it was decided that my daughter would work harder on her English and then it will be reviewed at the end of the year. I said I was happy with that and that if she isn’t going into OP, I would just put her in a different school.
The story doesn’t end with that. The next day, my daughter sent me a text asking if she could go home as she felt sick. I told her yes, I thought it was still from the interview the day before. That afternoon, I asked her about it, as she didn’t come home ill. She told me that a Teacher Aid had said to her, in front of her friends that its better for her to do Vocational English, because that’s where all the dumb and the waggers and uncontrollable kids go. She told my daughter that Aboriginal people don’t like coming to school and learning. They don’t want to do anything and they don’t understand things and that’s why it’s best she go there. Now this person was not asked to join in the conversation with my daughter and her friends. She was upset and so was another friend of her’s who is Aboriginal as well. When my daughter walked away. This adult said I am not sorry for what I said, it’s the truth. (this then made the other Aboriginal student leave in tears). This was why my daughter wanted to come home. She wagged English, as she was upset and then went to all her other classes.
Who are these people who are casting judgement on my child? These people who are seeing only her race and not her? I am going to follow this up. My other children were upset for her. My son is going to speak to the school, why him? Well if I get too upset or stressed I can pass out. But I have agreed with him that he will talk first then I will go and speak to the School Principal about it. The other reason my son is doing it, is that my daughter is scared of repercussions from teachers. She let out in a flood of tears how some of the comments of other teachers have upset her, how when the Indigenous Aides go to the class door some teachers make comments to students about “Here comes the babysitter”, when they hand in assignments they (all the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students) get asked did you do this yourself or did someone else do it.
My 15-year-old child has been racially vilified and insulted by an adult in a position of power over her. She feels lost and alone. She obviously has no trust in the majority of teachers. How can this happen when we are supposed to be the lucky country? Lucky for some.
I will keep you informed as to how this goes, keep your fingers crossed that this will end well