Friday, February 27, 2009
School shouldn't feel like a necessary evil
Tuesday night the fifth graders at Annamarie's school put on their annual musical, which was one of those events that is only fun to attend if your child is actually participating. This year's production was called "I Had a Dream," and it was a 25-minute ode to many of the people who have made our country what it is today. I think every child had at least one line, and Annamarie's was, "A Quaker, like William Penn." She nailed it. I am a sucker for anything patriotic, and Ron liked the fact that the colonial period was heavily represented, so a good time was had by all.
Today, though, I am highly annoyed with that school. Annamarie has a full-time educational assistant, and we have had numerous problems with this woman overstepping her boundaries over the past several years. When something concerns her, she refuses to just call me up, despite my frequent assurances that she is welcome to do so. Three years ago, she reported us to social services because Thomas drew a face on Annamarie's chest and belly with marker. I had been trying to get 7-year-old A to keep her shirt on, and had told her that her breasts were private parts and she needed to be modest. So at school she told her aide that her brother "drew on my private parts." Sigh. Fortunately the woman from DSS had the good sense to laugh about it.
I could go on and on about the assumptions this woman has made about our parenting over the years, and about how hard she has been on my child whose only desire is to do the right thing, but I will spare you. Basically, she has chosen to misinterpret partial stories related by a child who is developmentally disabled and who has serious communication issues.
Today she accused Annamarie of cheating on her homework. She apparently said, "Your mom gave you the answers, didn't she?" She had Annamarie so confused that I believe she admitted to whatever she was being accused of...don't police interrogators use similar methods that don't hold up in court? So here's what actually happened with the homework: It was division, and they have been having A make tick marks and divide them into groups. If the problem is 18 divided by 3, they have her make 18 marks and divide them into 3 equal groups. I believed that she could do it "the regular way" and with only minimal help, she did. I had her multiply by 3s until she got to the right answer, and by the end she was doing them independently. This morning the aide just saw that there were answers and no tick marks all over the paper. She tried to make Annamarie tell her how she got the answers, and when she couldn't (HELLO, cognitive disability, speech and language delays?) she again accused her of getting the answers from me.
So did she call me and say, "Hey, I was just wondering what method you guys used to do homework last night?" No, she sent my child home convinced that she had done something wrong and incredibly stressed out about what will happen tomorrow. And the saddest thing, the thing that breaks my heart and makes me want to scream at these people who just are not doing their best for my child? Annamarie prays for this woman every day. Prays for her health and that her car won't break down, and tells me every day how much she loves her. THAT is who she is, a little girl with Jesus in her heart who tries so hard to do the right thing and who loves with her whole heart.
Coincidentally, waiting in my inbox was a survey from the school system asking how well I feel the special ed department is using communication to help my child succeed. Perfect timing.