Dear Public School System,
We are parting ways this summer. I entrusted my youngest to you and you have let him down. I happily listened to the promises of extended second language teaching, manageable class sizes and quality teachers. We were smug in the fact that we were lucky enough to live in the right zone for this school and were not in need of a coveted transfer from out of zone. We even had at our door busing ( the irony of this will be seen further on )!
How great – private school perks at a public school price I thought to myself.
Well, how foolish was I.
It is funny. The two times in my life as a parent that I remember feeling the most ill prepared, frazzled and out of my depth surround the education of my boys. While the situations are somewhat similar ( they are brothers after all ), the first led to a quick change of path within a receptive school system.
This time we were not so lucky.
I still wonder why, when in October, when I asked for insight into why my son was not thriving, we were not listened to.
And then again in December. December, when we started with our own investigation into why this little boy was…just being missed.
And then why in February, as the result of my phone call, finally it was agreed that he was not where he should be. But he is lovely, not a problem at all in class. By then we were well into the private process of assessment. Finally he was receiving some extra support at school…but to the detriment of his self esteem. See? He knew he was being pulled out because he was not as smart as his friends.
I know, I know…that is not the case, he is very very smart…but when you are 6 and being reminded daily that you are not getting the answers right, and that it hurts to write and that you didn’t understand what the question said…well, it is much easier to just slouch down in your chair, rub your eyes and tell your teacher that you are tired. That you can’t do it. That you won’t do it. And then he is just a little less lovely to his teacher, still nice but…
And then the long waited for IEP meeting. Is he getting enough sleep at home? Are you reading to him every night? And we know he changed teachers in the last 6 weeks of school but kids adapt. And he is an August 30th baby and a BOY. So…you know. It is just a case of maturity. He needs to step up. He will adapt. We don’t have many kids with his intelligence in resource. We will let next year’s teacher assess him without giving her too much information. We will reassess him in October.
No, no you won’t. Why? Because if we wait until next October, we will lose my son in your school. He will never be trouble in the class, he will never stand outside the classroom banging on the door, screaming at the teacher, he will never stab another kid with a pencil. He will just quietly fade away until he thinks he really can’t do what his friends are doing until the point he really can’t. It will be a quiet loss, but a very real one.
So, we as parents are left as the ones screaming at the teacher’s door. But we didn’t. We played by the rules and it took eight months to get a meeting that really led nowhere. Well, it led us out the door of the school.
Which is a shame because my kid has lovely friends in the school, and so did I. I was class mom. We were involved. We cared about the school. It was our community.
And when the school let us down in the worst way, the day the school lost him and sent him home to sit by himself on the stairs of an empty house, alone, sobbing for an hour and a half, we did not completely lose our minds.
Even then we did not leave the school. Although we did ditch that originally coveted bus service. We worked with you, biting back our anger and disappointment, so this would not happen again to another child in our school community.
But dear school…you lost our son in another way. You helped him lose his interest in learning and now we are left trying to recover that spark he had at the beginning of the year, the one that had him curious and excited every day. This is why we must leave.
We simply can not afford another year in your public school. The price for my child is too high.