Monday, March 12, 2007

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry....

When my son was finishing up his 5th grade year, he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (predominantly innattentive). This diagnosis came after years of a really brilliant kid struggling in school both academically and socially.

We're lucky. His affliction isn't as difficult to manage as kids with much more severe disabilities. He doesn't have to maneuver a wheelchair and he doesn't require a special assistant at school. His struggles are of a much more subtle variety.

But this subtley comes with its own burdens.

When he was first diagnosed, my son had an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that laid out for staff the nature of his problems and very specific things that staff were to do to address his difficulties. His IEP really made a difference. Once staff was aware and on board, my son was able to at least keep his head above water in school.

When he started high school, we felt that he'd made significant enough progress to go off his IEP. Instead, we developed a 504 Plan, which isn't as deep or extensive. Essentially, I get weekly updates from his teachers on his progress (in case he gets behind) and if he asks he can have accomodations for tests and some homework projects. Its not exactly burdensome for the teachers.

For some reason, we can't get my son's chemistry teacher to buy in. She rarely does the weekly emails and has been very bristly about accomodations. A few weeks ago, she informed my kid that she'd no longer be participating in the 504 plan because she thought he was using it as a crutch.

In other words, she thinks we're making all this shit up so that he doesn't have to work as hard as everybody else.

Right. I medicate my kid and monitor his school progress because I'm a stupid hack who wants my kid to be a pain in the ass at school. This woman has no idea how I struggled with these decisions--how I did literally EVERYTHING I could to help my son get on track before choosing to go with medication and involve the school in a special plan for him. Like I enjoy having my kid labeled as a "special education" kid--with all the connotations that goes with it.

My son kept this information from the teacher to himself--because he knows his mother would have gone ballistic. Unfortunately, this began a downhill slide in chemistry. My son had a raft of missing work (mostly because he was competing in an extra curricular activity--and neglected to get all of the homework turned in when he returned because he focuses on current work--classic ADD). The chemistry teacher let this go on for FOUR weeks before she decided she'd better clue us in.

So instead of focusing on Oregon politics today, I'm focusing on this.

My kid spent the entire weekend stooped over the kitchen table working on the SIX chemistry assignments that had to be turned in today. This was in addition to the homework for his other classes. Its was a long weekend here at Casa Carla.

Fortunately, we have a lot of fantastic teachers in his public school that do a phenomenal job. But this one teacher is doing her best to sour the whole apple barrel.

I'm a vocal (shock!) advocate for my children. But I fear for the students whose parents aren't engaged and whose kids are beaten down by teachers like this.

I don't know how they survive.