This would be bad enough if it were not for the fact that both Mike and Lizzie's first grade teachers were, while well-intentioned, catastrophically ill-suited to teach the Patterson child in front of them. I'll get to Mike tomorrow because it occurs to me that no one could really have gotten to the poor fool but Lizzie was an avoidable tragedy. This is because her first teacher is a lot like the one she'd later become: someone fresh out of teacher's school with a head full of dogma and not much real experience riding herd on children.
This, I should think, is why she made a point of bellowing crap about counting on fingers and chewing on pencils as if Lizzie were a war criminal or something; this is because her four years of teacher's college had brainwashed her into believing in a fairy tale character who would be grateful to be berated by an ignoramus. Instead, Lizzie learned that it wasn't just her mommy and daddy who were unsympathetic to her plight; teachers were finks too because they didn't care about her feelings and treated her like a simpleton because the inexperienced young woman who ended up blubbering like a toddler when exposed to normal childhood behaviour was trained specifically to not understand the child behind the discipline problem. Were she to have been put in front of a teacher who could see how afraid Lizzie was of being isolated because of her instinctive dread of a looming shape of grandiose idiot malice, she might have tried to reach the person behind the chewed pencil. Instead, we get a lousy student who becomes a lousy teacher.