One of the pleasures of starting a blog is to hear from parents and teachers. Some post. Some don’t want to put information online, but they want to be heard. Others comment on Facebook. The stories are often heart wrenching. Teachers recognize they can’t teach the way they know they should because they are pushed to follow a curriculum not in the interest of their students. One teacher/parent on FB likened the current school atmosphere for students with disabilities to “taking away ramps from those with wheelchairs.”
I heard from a tough dad whose family struggled throughout his child’s school career to get the right accommodations. In this time of cheap talk about more school accountability, and while we repeatedly watch schools close due to bad test scores, this parent bemoaned the fact they could never find anyone who displayed accountability for their student! After all their attempts to get help, they still hadn’t learned who the “go to” people were at the local or state school levels! But as good parents they didn’t give up. Now, their grown child has a spot at a community college to take classes that will meet their needs and academic interests. There is much hope!
But I have to ask, what purpose was served, when due to school reforms, the public school experience was made miserable for their child? How much time was wasted on testing and so-called accountability measures that didn’t do what they claimed? What happens, I also wonder, to the students with disabilities and/or difficulties who don’t have the luxury of parents who are able to advocate for them? Many parents are troubled with a myriad of problems surrounding a troubled economy–how to keep a roof over the family’s head or put food on the table. How do their children fare? We know this is always a problem for disadvantaged students.
Then there were the concerns about children who worked slowly. Those who couldn’t comprehend well at reading were, it appeared to me, being looked upon by school officials as failures due to stringent curriculum requirements. Parents and grandparents struggled amidst stressful homework assignments to keep the joy of learning alive in their children.
There were students who struggled with expressive language, ADHD and specific learning disabilities seemingly lost in the shuffle of Common Core requirements. Most parents undeniably supported their student’s teachers. They recognize their struggle and appreciated their commitment to teaching. But they are all caught up in the disingenuous push for achievement that has become more and more impersonal.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Public schools are not meant to be places where students are beat down because they learn differently. Public schools are supposed to lift children no matter their academic and/or social difficulties or whether they have learning problems at all! It can be done! It must be done! If it is not done it will have far reaching consequences not just for the children but for the country.
Perhaps, most upsetting, was the email from the mom who’d received a school permission form requesting her signature so her child could receive corporal punishment if the school deemed it appropriate. The form noted that if the child had preexisting medical problems they wanted it documented, but if the parent did not sign the form the school could hit the child anyway.
Not only have high visibility organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and others http://www.stophitting.com/index.php?page=usorgs come out against hitting, the accountability rhetoric certainly falls short in promoting high expectations when it comes to corporal punishment. Sending home a blanket permission form for paddling demonstrates the lowest expectations ever! I emailed this compassionate parent the links to The Center for Effective Discipline http://www.stophitting.com/ and in case the superintendent believed in the “spare the rod, spoil the child” stance the http://www.parentinginjesusfootsteps.org/.
In all these situations, I again suggest parents connect with others who share their worries. Gather research and information to substantiate your concerns. The internet and the local library provide a wealth of information. Librarians are often eager to help you find what you are looking for. If you are close to a university that is better yet because they have research articles galore.
My website provides some links to groups, organizations and research that might help. There are others out there. Let me know if you find a new book, group, or link you think I should add. Also feel free to ask me or others questions. I don’t know all the answers, but I can try. If you disagree…well that’s alright too! If you post a question at nancyebailey.com it comes to me first before it is posted. I will not post your comment if you ask.
There is power in numbers. Gather with other parents and educators who share your concerns. Approach teachers, principals, superintendents, school boards and respectfully bring to their attention disagreements. Document everything, and if you are still not satisfied, look for a lawyer or an advocacy group that will support you. Carry on! While it is true it may take time…you will be leading the way to right what you believe is wrong in education. It’s better than sitting alone and crying in your soup.