Perhaps, people in the Czech Republic believe placing a child into a “Special Education” class is a compliment because she will receive a special education. Current estimates are that 90% of special education classes contain children of Roma backgrounds. It is believed at least 5,000 Roma students are in such classes despite having no learning problems, but, since they are “Roma” that is good enough for Czech educators to give them the pleasant designation of, “special.” Lucie Panovska, a dedicated teacher who works with these children resents being termed a racist. “I am not a racist and I’m tired of people pointing to the Czech Republic as a racist country.” She insists Roma children are educationally retarded due to family backgrounds. She claims these children are “not talked to” and not provided good educational experiences at home.
I am of immigrant parents who never went to school back in Poland or Russia. The only book in our household was a religious siddur. We certainly did not have discussions around the supper table and neither of my parents knew much about schools. I had some good teachers who educationally believed in me, and I progressed. Blaming parents is a cop out. It is the School’s Responsibility to provide a learning environment. Develop interesting and challenging curriculum that captures interest of Roma children, provide plenty of positive support and most do not have to remain in special education classrooms.