A Win, I Guess

IEP is complete. Rowenna will have another year of 4K at our request and will attend a different school in our district.

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People are describing this as a “win” and congratulating me. I suppose it is a win. Ro will be in a placement that we truly feel is best for her at this time.

So why doesn’t it feel like a win?

Is it because of the seed of doubt planted in my mind that this is not the right placement? The parents who staunchly speak and write about always staying with same age peers, the teachers who pushed – hard – for a kindergarten placement?

Or maybe it’s because the final IEP meeting had a certain air of resignation. I had said the right things to the right people and I guess I “won.” No one said a single word against retention at that final meeting. It was quick and straight to the point – one team handing Ro off to another. It was a bit odd after the tension at the previous meeting.

Or was it having my own bubble burst? Learning that what seemed like a good fit and a great school year maybe wasn’t so wonderful at all?

But what I really think it is, way deep down, is the overwhelming sense of injustice. The conversations I’ve had in the last month are being held at meetings all over the country. We are all still fighting the same, tired fight. Decades upon decades of the same simple request: teach our children. Presume competence. Welcome them.

This fight shouldn’t have happened at all. Not today. Not in 2015. Not just because there is a federal law ensuring her education, but because shouldn’t we know by now that children like Rowenna have worth? Shouldn’t we be past the point of having to threaten lawyers, and in a place where a teacher wants all children in her class?

It just doesn’t feel like a win when I have to wonder if I will be writing the same blog posts next spring, and the year after, and the year after. It doesn’t feel like a win when I still have a list of people to call and questions to ask. It doesn’t feel like a win when it is incredibly obvious that most of the people I’ve spoken with in the last month still have no idea why we were upset in the first place.

It’s not a win when no one understands why anyone would take issue with calling something the “cognitive disability room.”

This isn’t a win because I know the fight isn’t over.

We’ll take it, though. We’ll take this placement and learn from this year and strive to build a strong team that can carry her through the next few years of school.

I’ll keep nudging and challenging and asking.

This girl is worthy. This girl has so much to offer.

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2 Responses to A Win, I Guess

  1. Beth June 12, 2015 at 12:27 am #

    I suspect it doesn’t feel like a victory, because you may be exhausted and run down from all the nudging, and pushing forward, and working to get all your child deserves. I was told my son could not go directly from kindergarten to 1st grade, because “he’s so quiet.” It was suggested he attend transitional first grade. You’d think I was asking for the moon, when I asked to meet with the T1 teacher before and after she tested my son. The K teacher just kept saying “you’ll get a letter, after he’s tested.” I didn’t want a letter, I wanted a conversation! It turned out the T1 teacher was awesome, welcomed all dialogues I requested, and my son went on to that class, and it was a great year for him. But REALLY, not promote because he’s quiet? His dad is quiet, he is still, and will always be quiet.

    You know my son has a different diagnosis, but the advocating required to get his needs met was exhausting! And I’m sure what you’re going through is worse. But stay strong, and hang in there. In addition to providing your children with a loving, nurturing, home, I believe helping them to get the best education possible, is one of the most important things you can do for them! I agree with you though – it shouldn’t be so much work!

  2. Kurc June 12, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    Hi Melissa,

    It seems like yesterday, all those transitions and, yes, battles, though it’s been 21 years since kindergarten for our son. Probably feels fresh as I write the book/memoir I have been promising [threatening] now for the last 16 years. Thoughts? Listen to your gut, your intuition – that little voice we sometimes don’t trust, though we should as it is way so often the right one to have listened to. Hindsight and all.

    One thing we did learn, is to have a 3 to 5 year vision, know the options, meet with the stakeholders, service providers, teachers and other parents, to get the ‘lay of the land’ and make sure it feels like the right fit for your daughter. There seemed, at times, an immediate reaction by the ‘gatekeepers’ to deny access or delay – with the understanding that they know better and as parents, we’re just being over reactionary. We did hold back one year – the transition from elementary to high school – and I’m not sure it was the best thing for our son. I know we did it more for our own peace of mind. The friends made, all without any challenges by the way, moved on, and the connections – even in that one year – were lost. Instead of graduating with his group of 4 strong buddies by his side – and I say this now as they have maintained contact with him to this day – and going to prom, he was one lone soul on the graduating stage, and elected not to attend the dance.

    As parents, I think we do have to trust our gut more. It makes the justification of the decision harder to communicate with those gatekeepers, the battles a bit more tedious and frequent, but I believe the payoff in the long run is the experiences and life we actually want for our children are worthy of that challenge. And like you said, the girl is worthy, of that and so much more.

    Keep on pushing and dreaming.

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