I like this teacher as a person, so am not going to post much of what they said, because I can only imagine the nasty messages they would get, and I have no desire for that to happen. Just a few things they said I wanted to discuss:
- "It is not an educational necessity to be potty trained"
- "In my opinion what your asking for could easily be accomplished by homeschooling Chelsea, putting [son] in daycare and make it your full-time job. Then she will meet her potential"
- "Free and appropriate education has a very different definition to what you are expecting"
- Next quote not from the same person, and this comment was 3 years ago, but from the DIRECTOR of special education in that district, "If Chelsea needs that many services to make progress, it isn't worth the investment. You need to find a group home for her." (Chelsea was 3)
I really had no interest in arguing when I got the message, and so I simply stated that my child's potential mattered more to me than a teacher's feelings, and that we had a difference of opinion, and left it at that.
But I do want to discuss these topics briefly, because I have gotten similar questions before, usually innocently, (and I NEVER get offended by sincere questions!).
1. "Educational Necessity"- There are so, so, SO many things that are not "educationally" or "academically" necessary that still need included for Chelsea at school. Yes, my child needs to have consistency in going potty. And she need to be able to say "hi" to people. And know how to make a peanut butter jelly sandwich. And know how to purchase an item at the store.
That is part of CHELSEA'S education, and something that will help her lead a successful, happy life. Why is that any less important than knowing academic trivia like cumulus versus stratus cloud formations?
I think life skills are far more important! (and face it, there are plenty of non-special needs students that could take a crash course in life skills too!)
That is the whole basis of an INDIVIDUAL education plan. Each child has unique needs, and goals tailored to them. I have had school personnel tell me that other kids don't have goals like Chelsea's, to which I say "Well, that is good, because they aren't Chelsea"
2. Why Don't You Homeschool? I do in the summers, but Chelsea likes school, and the staff are (almost always) very competent and caring.
I would certainly hope that a special education teacher, OT, SLP, and PT all with master's degrees and 3 decades of experience between them, plus several classroom and therapy aides AND all the resources a school can offer would do a better job than I could!
However, there have been times that I did seriously consider homeschool because I was astonished that a team with all the above qualifications was doing so little to help my daughter progress in her goals.
But right now, I LOVE her team and they are getting her to learn all sorts of new things I wouldn't have thought to teach her! There are really incredible people that work in special education! It isn't a field you just get into for the money.
Additionally, I have no desire to send my son to a mediocre daycare to get constantly sick and sit in front of a brain-cell-sapping television all day, and neglect HIS educational needs (which would need a blog of their own).
3. FAPE- Or Free Appropriate Public Education. Unfortunately in special education, this often means "barely more than minimal progress", rather than a "meaningful education". There is actually a case right now in front of the supreme court about what constitutes an "appropriate education".
I am not looking for babysitting for my kid. I am not just looking for any excuse to have a break from her constant needs. I want her to have an education. A real education! And you bet I will advocate until she gets one, and you bet I will take her side against ANYBODY who says otherwise.
Now, I am not saying treat the school like an enemy. Like I said, I LOVE my daughter's team right now! They are amazing and talented and I know that they love Chelsea!
But I know Chelsea. I know all about her (many) disabilities, and I know how she learns best. So I will bring that to the table, and just as I listen to them, I expect my expertise to be considered by others as well, because I actually know a lot about my kid and how she learns.
4. But Chelsea Needs a Lot...- You think I don't know that? I am well aware that Chelsea needs double or triple the time of other special needs kids. Her disability is far more severe! Of course she needs more help to make progress, and 20 minutes/ week of group speech won't cut it for her!
Chelsea can learn! I know that she can, because she has been able to learn all her colors, shapes, numbers, letters, even words! BUT that comes after a LOT of intense, 1:1 dedicated time and effort.
Yes, I know the school district doesn't like to pay for extra services. Insurance hates to pay for anything. I sure don't like to have about half of all our income going to her therapy, medical, and prescription needs, and my husband and I working 2-3 extra jobs at a time to cover those expenses because insurance, the government, and the school all refuse.
I never really debated whether a child was "worth the investment". If your child breaks their arm, you take them to the doctor and pay to get it fixed. If a child is struggling in math, you send them to a tutor. If your child need speech therapy, you make it work as best you can. It is just what parents are supposed to do.
Every child should have an education that helps them achieve their goals.
I advocate for Chelsea to have a brighter future, because every child deserves a chance.