That's how important you are!" -- Eckart Tolle
So, my kid is graduating 8th grade.
He's moving to high school.
Leaving the only school he's known for 9 years.
He's excited about it.
He's ready for an adventure and the thrills of high school that he has watched happen with his brother and sister: proms, dances, dates, football games, hanging out with friends --
His speech teacher that he has had since he was two said it best:
"He's excited because every change he has had up until now has made his world bigger and better."
He thinks change is good.
He's upset to say good-bye to his beloved friend and aide, Sarah.
He's not too sure of how to get to his new school...or what to do once there.
He's trying to picture it and he can't.
But overall, he's pretty excited for it.
Then we went to his first hour of formal testing...with a stranger...who gave him candy...and let him quit when he said he didn't know the answers anymore.
Would she let any typical kid quit??
Is that being nice...or is that having low expectations?
Is this test just a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Sure feels like it.
My kid needs to enter a system...a formal system that specializes in disability...a system that prefers to segregate...
and list all of the things Patrick can't do.
I look at all of the things he can do.
A system that wants to prove its value and needs to keep perpetuating this myth of can't.
The myth of "experts".
I'm the expert on my kid.
I don't need a special ed credential to know what's the right placement for him.
It's the one he's had since kinder -- fully included, with support, in his class with his typical peers,
100% of the time.
That's been working for nine years.
On May 1st, I'm going to sit in on a meeting filled with strangers...who will list all of the various gaps in my son's knowledge.
The gaps identified, by the way, from tests that are created for people with 46 chromosomes, not 47.
They're "standardized" but for what kind of kid??
Someone with autism, sensory processing disorder, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome?
Is this a one-size-fits-all test??
If so, how can it measure anything meaningful?
They'll be overly polite.
They'll make comments about how charming Patrick is.
They'll smile...and act as if they know what's best for him educationally.
When they don't have a clue.
If I could, I would dismantle this system.
All children would start in their neighborhood school, in the typical classroom.
No one would have to earn their way in.
I'd train every single teacher in the country in good teaching practices...teaching teachers how to be engaging, how to mix up their class time with active/passive learning, how to monitor and give meaningful feedback, how to use technology to teach, reteach and assess for understanding.
I'd encourage creativity and cooperation and constructivist learning.
If every teacher knew how to extend a lesson and scaffold a lesson and offer support to all learners, we wouldn't need special ed...
which by the way, isn't freaking special.at.all.
Imagine all the money we could save if we didn't test and create goals and retest every three years.
Not to mention the time.
Precious time being wasted so the system can prove over and over how valuable it is...
when the results STINK.
75% of people with intellectual disabilities are UNemployed.
--> 75% <--
3/4 of the people in your system do not end up working...
why do you hold on to the outdated (and educationally false) notion that separate is equal??
25% of students with intellectual disabilities are fully included in school.
25% of people with intellectual disabilities are employed.
Isn't that an amazing coincidence??
Does it take a graduate degree to connect those dots?
Why do we have this system again??
I know I will have parents tell me amazing stories of amazing special ed teachers doing heroic things...
even a broken clock is right twice a day.
There are good people...terrific educators...heroes...in a terrible system.
I don't want to dismantle the people.
Just the system.
I want to crush the oppressive bureaucracy of deficit thinking.
A system that itself is disabled --
blinded to the many things the student can do, in favor of underlining and in bold all of the many things the student can't do.
I view Patrick as a violet living in a daisy world.
He isn't a broken daisy.
He's rare and beautiful and exceptional in his violet-ness, just hanging out with the daisies.
Our garden is better for the variation in the beauty.
Our world is better with it...it is the very definition of grace-in-the-ordinary.
Can you see his violet beauty?
Or do you see a broken daisy?
He's not the one who's broken...your system is.
"Peace requires everyone to be in the circle -- wholeness, inclusion." -- Isabel Allende