About uCANcomplain, Inc.
How did a teacher's few words prompt Shirley Tang to found uCANcomplain, Inc. and create uCANcomplainBlog.com?
Providing Constructive Resources vs. Unfair School Discipline: Suspensions, Expulsions, Arrests
The inception of uCANcomplain, Inc. started on one wintry day in 2007. Without warning, a teacher’s few words turned the lives of nine people – three students and their parents – upside down in an instant.
Decades ago before that, coming to America from Hong Kong for college, I aspired to be an artist and a writer. But the thought of “starving” scared me to death. I ended up picking Journalism to cushion my first major, Philosophy.
To my surprise, after graduation, my love for art actually grew, so much so my various careers have evolved around creating different art forms. Never did I dream of becoming a reformer in education, particularly in disciplinary practices in our K-12 Public School System.
As a former educator and having family members and close friends as teachers, professionally and culturally, I had the highest respect for educators. Never did I question the reason for someone entering the field of Education… until one day in early Jan., 2007.
Before that, my husband and I were looking forward to our daughter’s joyous high school graduation in the coming May. Meanwhile, she was savoring the fun of her last few relaxing months of high-schooling.
All of a sudden, hell jumped us with no way out…
Teacher T accused our daughter and her 2 classmates of plagiarism on a simple in-class research assignment, at the height of their college applications. The 3 girls believed, through their understanding of T’s oral instructions, that it was group work which allowed them to share research results. Nonetheless, T swore to school officials he gave crystal clear instructions to the class that it was individual assignment.
Swiftly, all 3 girls were suspended for cheating, and notices were sent to most of the colleges they had applied to.
Assistant Principal AP, listening only to T‘s claims, and violating policy in the Student Handbook, declared no appeal for us to higher school officials. That’s when I first realized: Due Process can be a laughable joke in the Public School System.
Challenging Absurdity, we sent a grievance letter to Principal P anyway. Listening only to the claims of AP and T, and violating policy in the Student Handbook, P refused to meet. That’s when I first realized: Grievance can be an artificial joke in the Public School System.
Challenging Bureaucracy, I turned to Truth. With colossal effort, I managed to secure signed testimonies from 7 fearful but courageous witnesses – the girls’ fellow classmates – who testified against T's claims and character. The naïve me thought justice would prevail, until… P disregarded solid evidence of innocence. That’s when I first realized: Truth can be an oppressed joke in the Public School System.
Challenging Injustice, I tried to turn to Voice, only to painfully discover that I must remain voiceless. “Can our daughter even graduate if we challenge further or sue?” I worried. That’s when I realized: Having no Voice is no joke in the Public School System.
In the end, the girls’ fate was sealed: Their suspensions: upheld; their reputation: tarnished; their senior privileges: robbed away; their honor club memberships: stripped – all for doing nothing wrong. On a sunny day in May, 2007, they graduated with dark clouds in their hearts.
A reformer was born, who later founded uCANcomplain, Inc...
My two-fold mission
For parents and students – Voice never left me. It only whirs louder every day as I learn similar or worse unjust stories from you nationwide. I totally feel your frustration and agony. To level the playing field in the K-12 Public School System, my mission is to provide you with what you lack: voice, power, and resources… with your help.
For schools and educators – As a former educator, I hear your frustration and hardship, too, from the lack of funding to uninvolved parents and more. My mission is to provide you with what you need: community support/resources, mutual understanding, and affordable disciplinary alternatives… with your collaboration.
We – both sides – should embrace one common goal: the welfare of the students – our children.
I believe: parents/students + schools/educators + communities working together = benefit for ALL.
I believe: you + uCANcomplainBlog.com* = we CAN reform together!
Founder, uCANcomplain, Inc.
• Challenge Yourself • Inspire Others • Reform Together
* uCANcomplain.com, a much larger site, is being developed with even more innovative and interactive functions to address issues from both sides and find solutions. Stay tuned for its launching date.
P.S. So what happened since 2007? I have ridden one of the most exciting "roller-coaster" rides in my life full of twists and turns, while challenging the largest school district in North Carolina. What have I uncovered and discovered? What are my failure and triumph while trying to make a difference for parents and students? Stay tuned. And you will be invited to even join the ride with me.