I’ve noticed that when some people find out I’m dyslexic, their expectations regarding my intelligence and ability level automatically bottom out in their minds. I’m learning disabled, therefore I must be completely incapable of even the easiest task.
|What should we expect from our schools?
By Marlith (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL],
via Wikimedia Commons
Of course, I know that’s wrong, as does anyone who understands what dyslexia really is, but when that same attitude is applied to a child, great harm can be done. If you’re told enough times that you can’t do something, or punished when you fail the first time you try, naturally your own expectation of what you can do spirals down the drain.
I personally feel certain expectations should remain high for the vast majority of students, whether they have some sort of disability or not. Given proper accommodations, encouragement and a chance to shine, many of them can eventually do anything “normal” kids can do. I’ve said that many times before, and I’ll continue believing that.
The question occurred to me, though, what sort of expectations should we have for our schools when it comes to students they classify as “special needs”? Should all we expect be day time childcare combined with basic education? Should we expect lessons in personal growth and exposure to job training? Should higher functioning kids who need a little extra help be provided therapy by the schools?
According to IDEA, the law protecting kids with learning disabilities, autism and other forms of differences, these students must be provided a Free and Appropriate Public Education, or FAPE. The NCLD web page offers a great informational page about that here.
Under that law, disabled kids are supposed to be granted the same opportunities as their non-disabled peers. According to the WrightsLaw web page, that means everyone is entitled to “educational benefit, [that] prepares them for further education, employment and independent living”. It makes sense. We as citizens, not just parents, but all citizens, should expect that from our schools.
Granted, every situation is different, and not all children will grow into self-sufficient adults, but it seems as if some schools aren’t living up to that expectation. There are many, many reasons for that. Politics get in the way, as does corruption, lack of funding, school location, crime and a huge assortment of other factors.
Like with individual students, each school faces its unique set of challenges. That’s where involvement with local communities and politics comes in. One of the nice things about the United States is that no matter how jaded you get in regards to how the government is run, you can still make phone calls, write letters, attend town hall meetings and take part in elections.
Tonight may be a good way to get to know your neighbors better, actually, as it’s National Night Out. If this morning’s migraine doesn’t come back, I plan on attending mine. If it does? Well, I’ll hide in my dark corner and wish I could take part without huge amounts of pain making communication impossible.
That got a bit off track.
The point is, as always, disability shouldn’t change your overall expectation of someone’s potential. Of course, it won’t be easy, and it may seem impossible at times, but the underdogs out there can surprise us when they’re given the tools they need.