Friday, August 24, 2007

Cri de coeur/crying in the car

Yesterday I took my teens to a 9th grade orientation. After the lecture part was over, they ditched the walking, talking (usually too loudly, and to strangers) humiliation that is me, and I waited around in the lobby with some other abandonned moms. A tidy, brisk-looking woman strode by and someone whispered, "That's the head of the school board." I said bye and dashed after her. You see, the school board is, in theory, the boss of the superintendent who is the boss of the whole school system. And I had a bone to pick with the school.

I got her attention and was politely apologetic about shanghaiing her. I told her about our situation with our special-needs kid; that we'd been working at home with her for her whole life and had finally, six years ago, discovered one successful way to teach her and had been doing so for six years. Unfortunately, our school district didn't use that method. Furthermore, we were entirely willing to waive the bussing costs for both our daughters - a cost of around $46,000 to the district - if the school agreed to pay the $50,000 tuition for our autistic child. An almost even trade. And that didn't even take into account their costs of hiring attorneys when/if we have to sue. I suggested to her that this didn't make financial sense in the long or short run.

Her response was to point to her entirely "typical" son and say, "Well, I could decide that this school wasn't the best place for my son, and I would be free to place him in any school I wanted to, at my own expense."

Politely, but wishing I could smack those specious words out of her head, I pointed out to her that our situations were different: her son speaks the language this school is taught in, he can learn there even if it's not perfect. Our daughter doesn't speak the educational language the public school uses: she learns in a very different way. It would be like sending her son to a school that was taught in Chinese. No learning would go on.

She told me grudgingly that she'd look into it and I thanked her and went to my car. Where I wept because we live in a world where people like this are allowed to have power over my darling, fragile child.

1 comment:

more cowbell said...

unbelievable. This is what happens when the people in positions of power have no friggin' understanding of the issues faced by the children in their charge.