Many years ago when my husband was stationed in Savannah, Georgia I worked at a school. The school was a very good school which educated some of Savannah’s richest families. I didn’t understand the politics involved in education until I started working in the Special Education department. It would become a stark lesson in life about inequality inside the classroom because of status.
It would be my first lesson in social status division and my first lesson in how schools viewed children with special needs. My oldest daughter at the time was in the third grade. She was invited to two parties within the same week about halfway into the school year. One of the parties was being help at a child’s house in the Landings and the other was being held at a house at a mobile home community.
I remember asking the teacher who worked over me about both areas. I didn’t know anything about the Landings and I didn’t know anything about the mobile home park due to the fact that I liked to keep on base as much as possible. She informed me that the Landing’s party was the party I needed to let child attend. She giggled about the VIP invite and then started laughing about the mobile home invite. She insisted on keeping my child away from the child who stayed in the mobile homes because they were basically trashy.
Time came for the two parties which were held days apart. I decided against letting my daughter attend both parties due to the fact that I didn’t know the parents. I like to know parents before I say yes. However, due to the response of the teacher, I have always looked on schools with a bit of skepticism. I remember the importance the teachers held on children who were in Special Education with parents who had good jobs and the lack of importance they held for children from poor areas.
It really put me on a mission to make sure that each child knew of their importance no matter their parent’s status. I will never forget the time when I was told by a teacher that she would rather have a classroom of ghetto children than teach children under the Special Education umbrella. The sad fact is that parents do not have any idea of how some educators view their children if they have special needs. It is important perhaps more important for parents of children with special needs to stay involved with the schools and to monitor their children’s interactions due to these issues.
Years later my daughter would get service from under the umbrella because of her ADHD and her ADD. However, those two issues weren’t the issues that would cause her to retreat inside herself, it would be a bullying attack that would hinder her from being able to interact socially. I find myself blessed with the inside knowledge of two things because of my occupational travels. I understand how certain children are regarded due to their disability and I understand how schools do not tell you about the obstacles these children face inside and outside the classroom.
So this brings me to my conversation with my daughter before we went to bed. Last night my daughter entered the room and gave me this very meaningful speech as I gazed out the window.
“Mom, I do not want you to worry about me being placed in another theater class because at the end of the day, I know you believe in me. I know dad believes in me and I believe in me. I don’t need a teacher to give me the green light when I have you guys. If she doesn’t want me in her class, I don’t want to be in it. I’ll just do my best in the new class and prove her wrong.-Ariana
I guess that is the point of it all. It is my support that will protect and propel her. Schools are set on default educations which means they do not always give what each and every kid needs. No matter how much we want to elevate the idea of teachers, there will always be those teachers who aren’t encouraging to all children. So, as parents we must lift our children up when the world tries to bring them down and remember it is our support that gives them wings.