Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Giving in, for now

They say you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Yesterday, at an IEP meeting for my daughter, I folded. I'm still not sure I did the right thing. I think I had the winning hand. But sometimes, keeping the other folks at the table from drawing their pistols is reason enough to back away.

In the month since my daughter's aide started work, I've tried hard to explain what I mean by "don't help her too much." I've given suggestions for help I thought might actually be helpful. And at some point, I've ticked off the teacher and the aide. The child study team leader advised that if I want what's best for my daughter, I should be quiet and listen to the teacher, who knows her. This would be the teacher who has had her in class for two months. As opposed to me, who has known her for seven of her eleven years. But is, after all, only a parent.

My last salvo was a long letter to the child study team leader explaining my observations and conclusions, just to get it off my chest and say where I'm coming from. The woman professed to "love it." But not agree with a word of it, judging by the amount of support I got when it came right down to putting plans on paper. I still feel strongly that my daughter is more capable and less in need of help than anybody else is willing to believe; and I still feel that sometimes getting Cs or even Ds (75 percent correct in our district) in subjects that are hard is a worthwhile goal. I still believe that constant help can be as bad for self-esteem as constant failure. Deep down, I wish everybody would just leave her alone and let her be a kid among kids. But the entire weight of special-service momentum is hard against me, and I'm getting tired of pushing.

So when the teacher and aide insisted that my daughter needs help on tests, even though I had specifically said I thought it was a bad idea, I gave in. And when the child study team leader said that she should be pulled to the back of the room to have tests read to her, even though she did just fine without that last year, I said okay. I made a lot of noise about doing this only so long as it improved her learning, and not just to improve her grade, but realistically, I have no way of knowing if this will be so. I've asked to meet at the next progress report time, and maybe then I'll be feeling a little less beat down and a little more feisty. Until then, well, at least looking through her test folder every week won't be so scary.

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