3 schools in 3 years. My child is only in first grade, and we have never moved houses. My awesome kid doesn't get to have the same friends, classmates, teachers, lunchroom, etc. for 2 consecutive years. We didn't even get him a new backpack this year because we wanted some semblance of familiarity for him. Something is broken.
And I am not blind- I know from a teaching stand point and a parent standpoint how much help my son needs, but telling him that he can't go to his home school, and that they don't have the classes and staff to support him is just wrong. so so wrong.
What message does this send my son? and the world? My child needs more help than our home school can or is willing to offer, so we send him to a school farther away, group him with other children with his same disability in the back of a school? Let him be around his typical peers for 20 minutes a day during specials? Not allowing my boy to go to school with his neighbors is wrong. He should be in a school with the peers he sees everyday in the neighborhood. Our home school is a 2 minute drive from our home, and now we drive 15 minutes one way without school traffic to his new school. And what happens to those of us who can't hire lawyers to fight the school districts, and the school district almost always wins. We just advocate as much as we can and then just give in.
There is a book that Dex loves reading right now called Kai to the Rescue. Its adorable, and everyone should own it. It is a great conversation starter about differences. Kai is a little green fire truck who moves to a station who has an established team of red fire trucks. The red truck in charge tells Kai he can't be part of the team because he's too small and he's green and white. Kai gets red crayons and colors himself red in order to make the other trucks see that he is like them. They all get called to a fire, but Kai isn't allowed to help put out the fire. But later, a smaller fire breaks out and none of the big trucks can fit into the underbrush- the truck in charge tells Kai he can do it, and while he is putting out that fire like a champ, all the red crayon melts off and he is just himself, doing his job to the best of the ability. The truck in charge sees this, and accepts Kai once he sees that he is just like them- even is he looks a little different. Oh how I wish children's books could be taken to heart by adults. Seriously- every kid I know that has a birthday is getting this book.
It will keep happening as long as everyone finds it acceptable. Change can only happen if we ask for it and fight for it. Those of you who don't have kiddos with different needs, start asking those who do how you can help. Go to those in authority and ask those hard questions, just like we have to do regularly. We get so weary, and we need others to help hold up our arms when we are so exhausted from the constant battle.
And I need to add that I have nothing negative to say about the teachers we have had for the last 4 years- they have been amazing. They have loved, challenged, worked with and taught my sweet boy. It is the system. It is broken.
We like to think inclusion has come so far, but has it really?
Don't you think my son will notice? As we were walking into his new school for sneak-a-peek, he was asking for his old teachers and old school. A wave of anxiety came over him as he realized that he had to learn another new place, and other new people. My boy already has extra challenges that hinder his learning, and having to relearn all routines, places, etc. makes it so much harder on him. He would be learning so much more if he could start from a place of familiarity instead of all new every year.
The world is going to continue to tell my son that he isn't worth it, and that he has too many extra needs- and I will be damned if I let him believe that, even for a second. I will fight for both of my boys as long as I have breath. That's why God gave me my precious boys, right?
"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right”- Martin Luther King, Jr.