I used to be such a public-school fan. And then N came along and, without meaning to, he systematically searched out and revealed to me all of that institution's flaws.
They're not pretty. Like pus-filled-pestilence level of not-pretty.
On Friday, I went to meet with the principal at N's school, to sign a document that states, flat out, that he is "at risk of retention" due to very low scores both on standardized tests and in classroom performance in both language arts and mathematics.
Apparently, "no child left behind"? Means "we're going to leave your child behind, because we think he's at risk of being left behind."
The form includes a laundry list of at-home interventions of the "parenting for dummies" type: Monitor/review assignments. Make sure student attends school regularly. Be available for support. Establish consistent routine and quiet place for studying. Monitor TV/computer game/phone usage. And my laugh-bitterly-until-there's-too-much-bile-in-my-mouth-to-swallow-back-down favorite? Communicate with teacher and school frequently.
Because, you know, the 17 daily emails to his teacher, his OT, his speech therapist, his advocate...That's not enough. They need to hear MORE from me.
As for the school's part in keeping my failing son from, you know, failing? "Modifications of work as needed."
That's it. They'll make the work easier for him, because that will...um...it will...
And so I asked the principal: What else are you going to do? Will he get time with the resource specialist? Pull-out groups? A reading specialist? SOMETHING?
Oh, no, says the principal. Only the schools that qualify for Title I funding have those sorts of things. We're too rich around here. So my son? Will get nothing...and like it. Even if he has to like it while repeating the third grade.
Now, if the assessments we're currently doing turn up something useful--like, say, a learning disability--and he qualifies for special education under his IEP, all of this will be moot. Because, apparently, being learning disabled gets attention. That's interesting. But if not? Well, nobody gives a crap if you're just regular not smart.
And so it is with all of that anger and bitterness that I head out, tomorrow afternoon, for our 'emergency' IEP meeting, to set up a behavior-support plan that will hopefully help N feel a little less stressed in the classroom while we go through the rest of the testings and meetings and official IEPs and follow-up evaluations and arguing...you know, all that business as usual. And because I've essentially lawyered up, what with the hiring of an advocate, suddenly all SORTS of people are planning on being at this meeting, which was supposed to be just a quick check in. At last count, I know of eight people who will definitely be there. All to decide which goal we should focus on over the next month or so (raising his hand in class? partnering with another child during group activities? going to the bathroom less frequently?) and how best to help him reach that goal.
This they have the time and money for, because I'm bringing in someone who scares them. But academic support on a regular, useful basis? Nah. Not that.
I used to be such a public-school fan. Those were the days.