Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bad news Tuesday

I volunteer at the library at my kids' school, and do most of my work at a counter near the phone that teachers use to call parents for reasons that are seldom celebratory. I've heard my fair share of calls regarding missed homework, failed tests, needed conferences and other areas of concern. But yesterday was particularly sad, as I listened to one poor teacher call seven parents to let them know their kids were acting up, dropping out, and generally failing her class. For one kid, constantly being the class clown was the source of the trouble; for another, rampant disrespect; for another, no work being done at all. I don't think it was easy for the teacher to make those calls, and undoubtedly it wasn't easy for the parents to hear them. Kind of ironic that she ended each conversation with, "Have a nice day." Not much chance of that, anymore.

What struck me most while listening to these calls was the vast relief I felt at never getting one of them. I've never been more grateful for special education. If my son were forced to be in a mainstream class, he could easily fit many of the descriptions I heard the teacher making. But in the structure of a small self-contained class, he's able to function acceptably. Later that afternoon, I went for conferences with my daughter's teachers and heard how great she was doing, either despite of her learning problems or because of the help she's getting for them. At least they all know that if they ever have to talk to me, I'm already by the phone.

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