I am not a big fan of the litigious society that we have become. More often than not, when I hear of a court-awarded financial windfall for someone I mentally thank Stella Liebeck for opening the litigation floodgates. Having written that, I must admit that I was quite pleased to read of the $350,000 settlement for Alex Barton. I almost wrote about Alex when I first read his story. In May of 2008, his kindergarten teacher allowed her students to vote on whether or not the young man would remain a member of the class. Apparently, young Alex had been a bit of a disruption. The teacher decided to hold a reality-show style vote with the rest of the kindergarteners determining Alex’s fate. Alex lost. This must be an example of the socialization that homeschooling critics argue for when they state that students will never learn how to interact with society if they do not sit with their peers for six hours each day in a public school classroom.
Well, it turns out that young Alex had a very good reason for his inability to control his behavior in the classroom. Alex Barton is autistic. Specifically, he has Asperger's syndrome. Young master Barton completed his kindergarten year in a homeschool. And what happened to kindergarten teacher Wendy Portillo, one of those college educated, licensed, professionals whose credentials are so critical to educational success that they are held up as an example to homeschooling parents as reasons why we shouldn’t attempt to teach at home? She was suspended for a year, but has since returned to the classroom with her tenure reinstated.
You can read Brian Hamacher’s complete report here.