A few days ago, I heard some loud noises coming from the room next door. It then turned to screaming. I briefly peered out into the hallway to see if it was under control, and a few teachers’ aides were helping to calm one of our autistic students.
I revisited the classroom during lunch to check on the substitute who was in for the day. I said to her, “Man, you earned your stripes this morning” to break the ice.
She replied, “Yes, I can’t believe they stick all the mentally retarded kids in one room together. If parents didn’t give their kids vaccines, we wouldn’t have this problem.”
I could feel my mouth pry itself open.
In ways that I’m not even sure of right now, I tried to disarm her in as best a way I could. I replied to her, “Whoa, there. I’m going to stop you right there. You’re going to use opinions of a few websites, and I’m going to use facts and science, and this conversation is not going to go well – so I’m just going to remove myself from this conversation.”
She gave me an equal blank stare as I left the room.
I sat down at my desk, and I just couldn’t believe myself. Here was an educated woman, leading a classroom in a pinch, with such prejudiced and poignant beliefs. I didn’t eat lunch that day. Instead, I just looked out the window for the 20 minutes that remained.
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