Genuine and Catawampus have posted some very intelligent commentaries on schools. Without the writing skills they possess Iâ€™ll add my
two cents one cent worth of opinion on schools and the children who are different. Tommy spent his first year of school in a CDC (kids who donâ€™t fit the mold) classroom learning how to get stickers on a behavior chart. I spent that year teaching him to read. I also spent my only year actively working with the PTA. I worked my tail off having a silent auction to buy a bigger, better playground. The silent auction raised $20,000.00 and the attached carnival made $5,000.00. They were quite annoyed that they had to spend extra money to make it accessible to children with different abilities. During that year on the PTA I was just a worker bee and none of the PTA leaders cared to even learn who I was or who my child was but they were happy to ignore my presence as they repeatedly criticized the CDC class. â€œWhy do we have those â€˜stupidâ€™ children at our school? They should ship them to one of those schools where the parents donâ€™t care who their children are exposed to.â€ My child is not contagious. Despite my mutterings that I would never volunteer to do anything on PTA committees ever again, I have offered to help with our current elementary schoolâ€™s silent auction but they have turned me down repeatedly. PTA is like a country club and the women who run it pick and choose carefully who can help in the decision-making.
Skip ahead many years to the time Tommy spent at the Knoxville school that is a huge dumping ground for children who donâ€™t fit in the system. Until two years ago this school had no books. The children spent their entire days earning and receiving play-time and rewards or punishment. They even had old showers converted into â€˜cellsâ€™ for children who were out of control. A few weeks before the end of the year I was in the office checking Tommy out for a weekly therapy appointment. The office staff was reviewing the student roster. Every child in this school has an IEP and falls under the IDEA laws so they are only allowed 5 days of suspension before hearings have to be held to determine if their disability caused the misbehavior. Right before my eyes and ears they were actively making sure that they had used up the five allotted days on each child in the school. â€œWe have two days left on him, next time he does anything, send him home.â€
In my years working as a social worker I had many unpleasant tasks but one of the most frustrating was attending zero tolerance hearings. Children who are already struggling to belong are thrown out of the school for one full calendar year and that year is lost. No home schooling or other options, just a year tossed in the garbage can. The school system knows the odds of these children ever returning and they are very happy to get rid of the children who demand their attention. The children who need the schools the most are tossed aside in favor of the children who will thrive no matter how good or bad their teacher is that year. The good teachers know how horrible this system is but they are at the mercy of the political administrators and other parents. Those same parents who control the PTA want children who are different or difficult shoved out of their sight. Not in my school and not in my backyard are their mottos. Is it any wonder the schools are filled with children who hate, bully and torment their way to the top of the popularity polls? Has it occurred to anyone the cost difference between working hard to help children while they are still in schools versus a lifetime of supporting adults who can’t live up to their fullest potential because the schools failed them? I want to talk about what is happening to Tommy and my other children in school right now but this post is too long already. Since itâ€™s Sunday in the bible belt, I hope youâ€™ll forgive my rant.