Wednesday, September 27, 2000

Back to school

Last night was my kids’ back to school night, finally, fact is, I have nothing to report.

This is in marked contrast to last year, where a group of unhappy parents attacked my son’s special-ed teacher and made her cry. They had a legitimate grievance (well partly; they were right to be upset that their sons were in the same class as the year before, but they were wrong to be upset that my small son was in there with them), but they hauled off an attacked the wrong person, a young and inexperienced teacher who had only found out she would be teaching the class a few days before it started. She certainly wasn’t responsible for class placements, and couldn’t really even be expected to have a complete plan for the class laid out. But the parents lit into her anyway, and we felt the repercussions from that evening for the rest of the year, as many students were transferred out and the remaining kids’ parents dictated a much more strict atmosphere than I would have liked for my guy.

I’d never seen anything like that before at a back-to-school night, and I didn’t see anything like it this year. We’re at a new school, and everything is just exceptionally...nice. The teachers are nice, the parents are nice, the staff is nice. Parents seem to be treated with somewhat less distrust than at our old school. My son’s teacher this year is experienced and in control, teaching a class she’s taught before, and the parents are happy the kids are there. My daughter’s teacher went to the school herself as a child, and nobody had any arguments about how she planned to run the class. I spoke to the gym teacher by the baked-goods table after the presentations, and she knew who both my kids were and said they were doing fine. She had a hard time getting my son to stand still, so she put a hula hoop on the floor around him and told him to stand in the hoop. And he does.

That’s the kind of thing parents of special needs kids have every right to expect, but seldom get. Last year, I had the feeling that my son was a problem to be gotten rid of. Here, he seems to be a challenge to solve. No one seems too shaken up by him, and that’s great. The child-study team has been working with me to come up with the right plan for my daughter, who’s in a mainstream class and is supposed to have an instructional aide. Since she’s the only classified kid in the class, this would have made it an individual aide, and I don’t want that for her--she doesn’t need that. So the teacher and case worker came up with the idea of having the Basic Skills teacher, who will be coming in to help other general-ed kids, help my daughter too. It’s a nice, non-typical solution, and the case worker set it all up herself. Last year, whenever I needed anything, I was told to call the special-ed director myself. So this is all a welcome change.

Everything’s going smoothly. It’s going too smoothly. There’s bound to be a collision sooner or later. But until then, I’m going to enjoy the ride.

No comments: