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