Friday, August 10, 2012

Back to school- hopes and fears. Hope 2012-A Blog Relay

"I can assure you there is no more powerful advocate for children than a parent armed with information and options."
Dr. Rod Paige, U.S. Secretary of Education (2001-2005)

When I read Slice of Humble's blog about hope this week, I was so inspired!  So here is my inspired blog, and my take on "Hope" 

It's August- which means school is just around the corner! There’s a buzz in the air that’s almost palpable. Parents all over town are humming with anticipation of what, for many of us is the most wonderful time of the year. That first day back to school!

In our family, it has been a constant juggling act between two very different age groups, dealing with no car, dealing with financial instability, and trying to keep The Boy engaged and throwing learning opportunities at him as well. It's not easy, and I should be glad that someone else gets to take over his education for the better part of the day in a few weeks.

But I am worried- because although he was supposed to be mainstreamed last year, the teacher decided "he wasn't doing as well as she would like" i.e. I can't handle him or give him the extra 5 minutes he needs on certain tasks. So he was put into a "categorical classroom" or "cross categorical classroom" or special ed to you and me. I wasn't happy about this turn of events- at his other school he had managed being completely mainstreamed, and had a wonderful teacher who worked WITH him, while also integrating him into the classroom. This has not been the case in the new school.

The "categorical/cross categorical classroom" is supposed to take a teacher with a certain endorsement, such as LD (learning disability) EI (emotionally impaired) CI (cognitively impaired) or HI (Hearing impaired) AI (Autistic impaired)- you get the picture- and put them with students who fit within their endorsements. Because most of these classrooms are "cross-categorical" a teacher with an LD endorsement will probably be teaching a classroom of kids with impairments across the board. Which means that in order to meet IEP goals- these teachers must work a lot harder, and these students will be missing support classes and specials like art, music etc. I think this cross categorical idea is crap. How does this best meet the needs of kids with disabilities in the least restrictive environment?

To top things off, after going all year with "he's doing good" I get his end of the year report card- and while he did pretty good in most areas - he didn't in others and NOTHING was ever said. And I pushed and pushed- wanting to make sure he was mainstreamed fully next year, AND with a certain teacher. I was told that yes , yes, of course- we agree with you. Then it was "oh well, we will see" and mama wasn't having any of that!

So next week, the phone calls and emails will start. Making sure he gets the teacher I want him to have, and that the "cross-categorical" classroom will be only used for support- NOT as a main classroom situation.

So what does this blog have to do with "Hope"? Everything. We all hope our children do well, make friends, and are happy, right? I am a parent who has to work her ass off on a DAILY basis to make sure these things happen. I am a parent of an autistic child- so I work, and advocate and fight for every little thing. Not that I didn't do the same for the other kids- just not on such an intense level.

I have discovered strength and patience I never knew I had. So much so, I am finishing my own degree in Special Education so I can help those kids so many schools just ignore.

Step 1: Write a blog post about hope & publish it on your blog.
Step 2: Invite one (or more!) bloggers to do the same.
 Step 3: Link to the person who recruited you (me, in this case) at the top of the post, and the people you're recruiting at the bottom of the post.
Melanie Crutchfield will be holding "Closing Ceremonies" around August 10 and will gather up little snippets from people that wrote about hope, so make sure you link back to her as the originator of the relay

My picks are: