Dear Annie: I have two children who attend public school in California. We were relatively happy with our children’s education until our oldest started fifth grade. We had heard rumors for many years that one particular fifth-grade teacher was absolutely awful, and of course, our son got her. This woman is mean and degrading and belittles the children on a daily basis. What’s worse, she seems to get pleasure from her horrible treatment of these poor kids.
We have talked to the principal. We’re not the first ones who have done so. We have been told on numerous occasions that we need to talk to the teacher to try to fix this problem, and short of this, there is nothing that can be done.
Our son is on a waiting list to be moved out of the class, but that doesn’t solve the problem. It is very apparent that the teacher is protected against any ramifications of her terrible behavior. But who looks out for the kids?
I have searched for some type of advocacy group that would help support the children who are tormented each day and have come up empty. How do we take a stand against the public school system and the unions that protect the teachers?
Dear Frustrated: Did you take the principal’s advice and speak to the teacher? You’d be surprised how many times these issues can be defused by respectfully asking the teacher how you can help your child do better in her class. It’s wonderful that you are a forceful advocate for your child. Every parent should be. However, until your son can be transferred, we urge you to use this opportunity to explain that he will encounter difficult people in life, including teachers, and it will help to learn the coping skills necessary to deal with them.
Dear Annie: After 20 years of marriage, my wife and I separated, with the plan that I would undergo therapy to discover why I had become disconnected from her over the past few years. We agreed that after eight months or so, we would attend joint counseling sessions to see what had changed.
After six months, I discovered she had sex with a man and then later with a woman. She stated, “We’re separated, so I feel free to date and do not regret it.” I consider this adultery. What do you think?
— Husband of a Bisexual
Dear Husband: A married person who has sex outside the marriage has committed adultery. However, a legal separation, as opposed to an informal parting, often gives spouses tacit permission to date others. We assume this was not the case here. But you have a bigger problem. If your wife is bisexual, your marriage may not be reconcilable. If she isn’t already in counseling, you should make it a condition of your continued efforts to save the relationship.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Bad Roomies,” who offered to let a jobless couple move in with them and, after three months, the situation became untenable. Your answer to kick them out could subject the homeowners to a lawsuit.
In Illinois, even if there is no formal rental agreement, the owners cannot toss the couple into the street. They need to go to court and get an order of eviction.
— Illinois Lawyer
Dear Lawyer: Thank you for clarifying this. In most cases, getting this annoying couple out of their home requires a court order.