NO! I’m talking about parents who are struggling to advocate for their kids. They are NOT crying ‘WOLF!” It’s hard to know where to begin this post, which stirs up considerable angst for me, parents, and other special educators. Is it asking too much to allow these kids access to the curriculum? This heartbreaking scenario is being replayed all over local counties, in both charter and traditional public schools. Kids with IEPs are coming home with reams of homework and increased anxiety after being told they can’t use spell checks or calculators in class. After all, “other kids” might see them using these tools which hardly level the playing field. They cannot take a movement break. They cannot get support for organization. When a kid is in 6th grade and cannot spell at a second grade level, why is a spell check banned? If you knew this particular kid, you would applaud his efforts to complete work which is well beyond his current capabilities. What about the twice exceptional student who is definitely gifted and definitely dyslexic? To his teachers, he is definitely being lazy. Never mind that he’s already working twice as hard. Yikes!
Another mystifying component of this issue is the hardline stance taken by classroom teachers who know next to nothing about these kids and their disabilities. Parents are tiptoeing around the issues, fearful of antagonizing teachers who seem to hold all the power, who will spend their days overseeing these intimidated kids. But the same teachers are demanding that the students advocate for themselves. Seriously?
The irony is that some parents do not cry for HELP, denying that their child has any special needs. They fight the school tooth and nail over the A word (autism), serious hyperactivity, and learning disabilities. They don’t tiptoie. They stomp. At least they avoid all the heartache of parents trying to ensure that reasonable accommodations are in place.