It’s time to address the elephant in the room.
(Image: Elephant on Bare Earth, Amboseli by Nick Brandt)
We are indoctrinated from the very beginning of our lives to respect our schools, our teachers, our school administrators, just as we would our parents. We believe in the core of our beings that the institution that is school and all those that inhabit it’s walls are invested in the well being of our children and dedicated to the highest educational principals possible. We believe the institution of school is the pantheon in the sky, the key to the good life, the equivalent of the pearly gates of heaven.
Now crash land back to Earth.
The halls of education are not sacred and while we MUST aspire to a higher ideal in education, we must recognize that the institution that is education is made up of people, and what are people? Highly flawed creatures.
I believe that every young adult that declares their major as education or any of the plethora that will lead to a career in education, truly aspire to serve and help children. In the naive ideals of youth that propel us all towards whatever dreams we chase, those that go into education want to serve children, work with children, help them on the path of their own great futures filled with their own idealistic dreams.
Many teachers still feel this way. I’ll venture to say many administrators do we well. However, to believe that the machine that is an ISD or a state education agency, e.g. public education as a whole, truly wants what is in the best interest of any single child, is naive.
As a parent, to walk into a school and blindly expect that your child will be served properly, handed the services that they need, given the opportunities they’re legally entitled to, is naive.
I TRULY DO NOT SAY THIS TO BE CRUEL.
You need to hear the facts.
Yes, there are schools that do what they should. I’ve personally never heard of any, but I hear rumor this is true. Maybe this rumor is akin to the rumor that there was a city of gold in the New World which the old European kingdoms spent years and countless fortunes pursuing, or maybe it’s even true; but betting on the rumor actually coming to fruition in your school before you ever have that very first meeting, is a really nice dream, but it’s naive.
And truly, we’ve all done it. We’ve all been there. We’ve all wanted to believe.
We are hardwired after all, from 5 years old, to believe in the sanctity that is education and all those who work in education. We are hard wired to believe that our children are loved and cared for every day to the best of their teachers and school administrators abilities.
But it isn’t true. The dream isn’t real.
Time and time again the institution that is public education has proven that what is in the best interest of each individual child is not provided. In our current reality it doesn’t happen. Public education teaches to the majority and the rest are left to drift alone in the abyss of poor grades, abuse and ridicule. I’d like to say that public education covers at least 80% of the population, however with 20% of the population being dyslexic, what about all of the other learning issues? By the time you add up the “exceptions” you’re way below 80% as the norm. You can also have a normative child who just doesn’t do well on standardized tests. What about them cause they’re going to drag the school’s numbers down too?
I wish I could say I’m jaded. Goodness knows there would be plenty of proof in my own experiences to make me jaded, because I’ll confess to an enormous amount of anger the first time I felt betrayed by our school, the first time they intentionally let my beautiful, intelligent son fall flat on his face and did not care one bit.
Through my career experience I came to the realization that education is a business. I’m not sure at what point in our history education shifted from actually desiring to teach our children, to hold them in love and help them fulfill their dreams, to big business, but it is. Public, private, charter, they’re all businesses. They have to make a certain financial bottomline to keep their doors open. They all have shareholders to answer to, whether you want to believe it or not. But, I don’t want to expound on that here. Not yet.
What I do want is to help you make the transition from the sweet, dewey eyed parent requesting permission for the services and accommodations your child NEEDS and then find out, rather heartrendingly, that you’re being manipulated, lied to, rejected while your child is floundering in “the system” in perpetuity, to a parent with eyes wide open, understanding that you’re dealing with a business and to act like it.
But remember this too, you are not a consumer. You are THE PARENT. That is YOUR CHILD. You say what goes and what doesn’t go. You set the rules. You need to act like the school had better be grateful to you that you even allow your child to darken their halls. They do not call the shots when it comes to YOUR CHILD, YOU DO.
YOU ARE FINANCIALLY AND LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR CHILD IN THE EYES OF THE COURTS, SO ACT LIKE IT.
I’ll go one step further. I personally believe in God, and I believe that God GAVE ME the gift that is my son, and with that gift He entrusted me to love him, care for him, guide him, teach him and do everything in my power to help him be the best possible man he can be. Me! Not the school my son happens to attend. Not his teachers. Not the school administrators. Not the school board. Not the Superintendent. Not the state education agency. Not the state legislature. Not the federal government.
So please believe I am not trying to be cruel. I hate bursting bubbles, but I’ve spoken to too many parents and we all went into this journey with the same beliefs about education. Those of us who have been on this road for a bit have learned the hard way, that it just isn’t true. Let me spare you that pain.
This is YOUR child.