jessica tholmer
March 15, 2013 8:00 am

You know those report cards you got in elementary school that always said something like “a pleasure to have in class,” or “learns very quickly”? How would you feel if you had received one that said something else, like “not too bright”? What about “tactless,” or “big baby,” or “anti-social”?

At a high school in Kfar Saba this week, a teacher accidentally sent out an internal email to all of her students with those exact comments, detailing what the faculty all actually thought about their students.

STRAIGHT INTO THE EMAIL ACCOUNTS OF THEIR KIDS.

The students of Yitzhak Rabin High School had the most incredible response, in my opinion, to the intensely insensitive insults sent to them. The students pinned their specific insults to their shirts, and demanded apologies, which is a far more mature response than I would have had, I am sure. The principal of the school, Ruth Lazar, apologized, claiming that they would “draw conclusions about [their] behavior and the way [they] express [themselves]” from then on.

For some reason, I find the most unfortunate portion of this entire shameful story, to be the fact that some of the kids were not insulted, but rather praised. The teachers attempted to defend themselves by claiming that they were using the spreadsheet as a way to help them in potential misbehavior on the rite of passage trip to Holocaust memorials in Poland. …though I cannot really comprehend how calling someone a “big baby” or a “sick-o” can possibly help manage misbehavior in a child. In fact, since when is putting anyone down, and praising the people they spend all day long with, beneficial to anyone’s personal growth? If, in fact, someone is “not too bright,” is it not the job of a teacher to help the child become maybe a bit brighter? How has name calling ever helped anyone accomplish anything?

Many news sources are referring to the spreadsheet as a “burn book,” which musters up all kind of familiar memories, mostly from movies about mean girls, and school bullies–something we have come to expect from cruel children, but something we should never have to realize comes from the people in charge of their educations.

I will not claim to be holier than thou, and none of us should. It is more than acceptable, as a professional educator, to have opinions that are less than ideal about the kids assigned to their classrooms. I work in customer service, and if I said I never had a mean thought about one of my paying customers, I would be lying through my fingernails, but the difference (one of the differences, actually) is that I would never put those words to a page. This is not human error–because accidental emails get sent out all the time, and that is fine, and understandable–but this is human CRUELTY, for adults should never record their mean thoughts about kids in the first place.

Our world’s judgments are intense, and sad, and humiliating.

I have a lot of pride in the kids’ response, however, though I cannot imagine being able to trust my teachers after such an event.

Here is hoping the school handles the situation severely.

Featured image via keepcalmomatic.

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