The Pioneer Woman –

I was referred to this week as a “pioneer”. But, not like that crafty, home schooling, procreator, blogger ‘The Pioneer Woman’.

I just went on her website. Holy crap!  How excited can anyone get over “The Best Skillet Ever!” Stepford Wives

If I ever get excited over a skillet – let me amend that, if I can identify a ‘skillet’ from other cookware – than Ira Levin’s feminist nightmare ‘The Stepford Wives’ will have become a reality. And if I had my druthers it would be like the awesome 1975 film version starring Katherine Ross and Paul Prentiss. I would be funny, Paula until I was turned into a Sex-Bot-Housewife.  But, that’s a dream for another day, Ward.

I was called a ‘pioneer’ by the special education lady at Thorin’s school because I want him to attend regular summer school rather than special education summer school.  Thorin is currently in a regular kindergarten classroom. Regular in that he is with ‘typically developing peers’. That is what is known as an ‘inclusive education’. Or what I like to think of it as ‘What-he-god-damn-deserves-and-is-fucking-entitled-to-education’.

Scary that in 2013 wanting ‘inclusion’ 12-months out of the year for your kid is Rad. And, why would inclusion be for just 9 months out of the year?  Is ‘inclusion’ like wearing ‘white after Labor Day’?

The idea of inclusion is a hot button topic not just for schools but for parents of children with special needs or the ‘atypical-kid-that-rocks’.  I at one timed feared inclusion for Thorin. (I am rabidly pro-inclusion now.) I think some of my early fears were attributable to how he would fair academically and socially. I based this on how ‘those kids’ were treated when I was a kid.

And, part of that had to do with the fact he was in a developmental pre-school. A developmental pre-school can be a mix of ‘typicals’ and ‘atypicals’. (It can also be just atypicals.) The typicals serve as role models for the atypicals. (You know because they are so much better than my kid.)

An aside – if all this jargon is confusing and makes your head spin it is likely your kid just gets up in the morning and goes to school. That must be nice for you.

These developmental joints are usually run by special education teachers who for some reason are all women. (Which might have  something to do with low pay and children and liking to boss people around.) They also like to scare the crap out of you about raising the bar for your kid. Ward and I tried to convince the women who worked with Thorin for two years he should go to a regular kindergarten classroom. They were not convinced but to their credit they did advocate on his behalf.

Here is a totally cynical and super F’ed up thought: What if special education teachers have a vested interest in your kid being “special”? It is their bread and butter after all. Sure it could be unconscious like Abraham Maslow observation – “If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” But what if it was more like AMWAY?

What shocked me was this special education lady was different. I adore her. Until this week she had been very inclusive oriented. So much so, it makes me think that there might a Stepford Wives for special education teachers and they got to her. (Now she’s working her way up the pyramid.)

Thorin is eligible for summer school because he is not at grade level in reading and writing.* She showed me this chart with all the classroom options for special education summer school.  The first one is like a dungeon room in Game of Thrones to which she said patting my hand, smiling and shaking her head, “We don’t want him there do we?”

Frightened, I could only manage to nod vigorously.

The chart had five more models.  Three she didn’t even explain. She just said, “Not for him!”

What a relief!  I didn’t even want to know. The last one made her very happy, big smile “This one has a lot of support.”

“Why wouldn’t he be in an inclusive classroom in the summer?”

“They won’t give him a one-to-one support person.” “They” are the administrators in the district office. Think Tywin Lannister and those of that ilk. Refusing that level of support to an individual who needs it to participate in a typical classroom goes against the spirit of inclusion and against the mandate of a least restrictive environment.

I wanted to say, “Well, they kind of eff’ing have to legally.” What I said, “I think they have to legally. Actually I am quite confident of that. I am comfortable advocating for that.”

“He won’t have as much fun in the regular classroom.”

No, you didn’t. Ugh. Double, triple ugh. Seriously? Other kids are in school to learn. The expectation for Thorin is not to mitigate the ‘fun factor’.

Instead I asked, “Will he continue learning to read and write there?”

The bottom line is he will be in an inclusive summer school setting. It will happen because I am relentless and eff’ing tenacious. And the special education lady will follow through because she has to – legally.

Maybe I am a capable pioneer woman of the variety our family needs.

I am however looking forward to the time I won’t have to be.

* I also went to summer school for not reading at grade level.

22 thoughts on “The Pioneer Woman –

  1. First, what IS a skillet? Is it like a trivet (which I also don’t know what is)?

    Second, you should not have to be the pioneer for understanding and applying a law (one that has been in place for quite some time now too) correctly. Anyone who suggests that clearly hasn’t understood what laws and “the least restrictive environment” mean, right? What breaks my heart about this is that that person seems to be a person who should advocate for Thorin, be your ally, not fear that a developing society will evolve her out of her education and her job (you are not the first one to bring up this point and I do feel that that is a distinct possibility regarding what the hang-ups are with inclusion sometimes).

    Lastly, I’m pretty sure I was promised an article about cock blocking. Just a friendly reminder.

  2. I effin love you!!!!!! I share many of your thoughts and feelings like: “Take your ADM (alloted daily money’s per student) and shove it” but what I will probably say is something more like…”my understanding of IDEA and LRE is that my son has the right to be educated in his local school and will actually benifit from being there, not to mention the studies that show that typically developing students will benifit from him being there too.”

    I too had a spec ed teacher tell me he could have more fun in the “dungeon”

    • Truly thanks! “not to mention the studies that show that typically developing students will benefit from him being there too.” Excellent point! Why don’t people get that?

  3. Good for you! Hate to break it to your SPED department but you are not a pioneer. The school here thinks I am a pioneer and my daughter is fully included in 8th grade. I am not a pioneer. This is something schools tell you to scare you. We are now connecting on the Internet and schools are going to own up to the fact that inclusion is successful for kids with Ds all over the world. BTW my daughter first went to regular summer school 9 years ago and did so until the district discontinued summer school for any non disabled student 5 years ago. ESY is only life skills, no academic goals, no thanks! Keep “pioneering” ;-)

  4. We did similar things with Dev. I’m just sad that you are still having to work so hard to change peoples expectations, but, every time you do it makes it better for the next family… :-) Thanks

  5. Just when I think things MIGHT be okay for our kids, something comes along like this. It’s really sad when the “experts” don’t even get it. I’m glad Thorin has you and I’m glad I have you in my life.

    You definitely owe us that cockblocking post. Totes.

  6. I really like your writing. Just confused why the snark lash out about how nice it is for those of us who were unfamiliar with the jargon. Seriously, maybe you only want to be followed by parents of certain children and if so, ignore my comment. Some of us are reading to support brother in laws, nephews, uncles etc.

    • I do want to write for everyone including those who want to “support brother in laws, nephews, uncles etc.”

      My intention wasn’t snark or a lashing. If anything I meant to be funny edgy.

  7. I know this is old, but I loved this post. Bummer for the schools when they actually have to follow the laws, eh? :) GOOD WORK! YOU ROCK!

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