Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hurt




Jack will be starting a new school in a little less than two weeks. He will be attending the Visual and Performing Arts Magnet school in our district. Transitions and change are quite difficult, but my wife and I felt this was an opportunity we could not pass up. I've said it many times before, but if an integrated arts curriculum allows Jack an outlet to see that he can not only succeed, but thrive, in school, we'll take it.

We were not unhappy with our old school, in fact quite the contrary. There were several people there that really stood up for my boy. Teachers, specialists, and administrators that educated him, that loved him, that respected him, that saw value in him, and, most importantly, championed him. I will miss them dearly. I will  never forget what they have done for my boy, for me.

And I was comfortable at the old school. I had made a handful of friends with mostly the other dads. Both special needs parents and NTs. A group of Dads having coffee with our three year-olds in tow hanging out in front of the Starbucks like some twisted 40s version of Jay and Silent Bob.

Mostly I will miss Mike. Mike's daughter was in Jack's class, his youngest was Jade's age (and they were buddies), and his eldest has Down Syndrome. I had the pleasure of hanging out with a support every day. A support that easily could have swayed my decision into staying at the school. A support that was a fellow special needs parent. A man I could talk to about real shit... all of the "nicey-niceys" put aside and have real, hard, often heartbreaking conversations about our children. All political correctness aside, all advocacy aside, all that "presuming competence" crap aside and talk.

All that aside, we mostly talked about music, Game of Thrones, and farts.

Mike gave me the blessing by saying "you're a fool to not take this opportunity"... and that's all I needed.

The coffee shop is still close by, we'll see each other soon, I'm sure.

Here's what I won't miss...

In the last week of school, it came to my attention that several (at least 4) parents had asked the principal that Jack not be in their child's class next year.

And that hurt.

It is, perhaps, the best way you could have handled it. I'm glad you didn't take out your frustrations on Jack, or myself, so I applaud your "restraint".

But it still hurts.

I am the parent of a special needs student in today's public education system. I understand the benefits of full-inclusion. I understand the risks (both to Jack and/or his peers) of full-inclusion. Sometimes I feel like we're all caught up in some big social experiment... sometimes it's great, sometimes it's not. An experiment that will not publish its conclusion before the analysis is completed. A dynamic "learning process" for all of us.

I am truly, truly sorry that Jack is a distraction to your child. I wish he weren't. I really wish he weren't. You have done the right thing in asking quietly, behind my back, for what you felt was best for your child.

But it still hurts.

I want to leave you with two thoughts.

First: "Not being mean", is not the same thing as inclusion.

Second: Jack is trying as hard as he can. He has a team around him trying as hard as they can. He has two parents that would love to simply throw their hands up and repeat the so often used mantra "we're doing the best that we can", but it wouldn't be true.

Instead, I throw my hands in the air and say, "I'm trying as hard as I can".

I will sorely miss several people at RD White Elementary. A huge thank you to all of them. You all tried as hard as you could.

To the parents that no longer wanted their child around mine...

You win. He won't be.

We'll find the same triumphs and tribulations at the new school, I'm sure. Until then, in the immortal words of F Scott Fitzgerald:

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Thank you for reading.

16 comments:

  1. As a teacher, I want you to know, I would lose my shit if someone requested such a thing. The classroom is a diverse place, as is the world. #think

    I love this: "First: "Not being mean", is not the same thing as inclusion."


    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so sorry to hear that several parents didn't want your son in their kids class. I definitely feel and understand your pain, as that type of thing happens to my son on the playground. Kids run and say "hurry, let's go, he's coming!" and I can see the looks on the parents faces when we enter the classroom at school. The looks that say they really wish my son wasn't in their child's class. I sure hope your new school is a better fit for your child and that doesn't happen again.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm not good with words plz bare with me. Reading this I had a lump in my throat. I'm so sorry this has happened. But more sorry for those "parents" who won't get the opportunity to know an amazing young man. Good luck in the new school!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ugh...this breaks my heart. I know Jack is moving on to bigger and better things...but damn. I would be hurt too. Heres to a fresh start and nothing but positivity!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I can feel your pain. When my daughter was in a private school and not yet diagnosed (not for lack of trying) after her second grade year (4 years in this school k, 1, repeat 1, and 2) we were asked to place her somewhere else by the administration. What really hurt is they wanted our son to return and me to come back and continue to serve on the school board like nothing happened.

    It didn't go down well. We pulled both our students. AND I removed myself from the school board. I also wrote a letter explaining our choices and decision. My heart broke then too. Hugs my fellow parent. Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I do not have any words of wisdom, but I wanted to comment and let you know that I get it. I also have a child with autism. She is going into the first grade next year. Kindergarten was full of struggles. I pray this year will be better for everyone. I, too, am trying as hard as I can.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well, that sucks. But it reinforces this: you're a good man, Jordan. Jack is lucky to have you.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Same thing happened to us at our church. Yes, I said CHURCH! "Let the children come to me." I guess what this church thought was, "Let the children come to me, as long as they can sit quietly and don't make noise."

    ReplyDelete
  10. Jordan,

    You and Julie are so inspiring, and brave and courageous and I'm so so sorry that you're going through this.

    For what it's worth, we're parents at your new school and we can't wait to see you guys at morning drop off!! Love to you guys!!

    xo, The Hollis Family

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rachel... I am so touched that you took the time to read and comment. Yes we will see you at school. It is so positive to know that there will be at least one family that Julie and I admire so, so much to say hello. We, truly, are the ones honored to know the Hollis Family. Thanks

      Delete
  11. as a special needs teacher, it is very heartbreaking to hear that parents have asked that their child not be in the same classroom as so and so, well the US constitution states that all are entitled to have a free and public education and that all students be treated with respect and dignity. So, for all you parents who have little patience for children of special needs, I pray that you never ever have to endure what my parents go through daily. You are very lucky, but with a special needs child, every little accomplishment is a moment in history for those parents, and one other thing, I would never go back to teacher regular education students again. I find them to be spoiled, parents think their kid is perfect, always complain it is the teachers fault why didn't she call me, well try looking at your child and the work they bring home, and the grades they are making, my special need students beat them all hands down.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I look forward to the day when we don't need "special education" teachers. We all have abilities which come with challenges and limitations. Let's all champion the collaborative learning model in all our schools. See www.edutopia.ort/stw-collaborative-learning-math-english-video

    ReplyDelete
  13. fuk them.

    how will our children learn tolerance, compassion and understanding? racism, homophobia and all forms of bigotry are learned.

    ReplyDelete
  14. That infuriates me honestly. Having a special needs child in your life is a blessing and it's amazing how much you can and will learn from them if you just open your eyes, mind and heart.
    TAWL

    ReplyDelete