Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Shut Out

Let Atticus learn. He wants to learn. He's twelve years old and he has within him the motivation to do great things. But when he comes to school each day the doors to learning are closed to him.

I have been following Atticus's story through his mother's page on Facebook: Let Them See Clearly Campaign. Atticus has Binocular Vision Disorder and the Howard County Schools have so far been unwilling and/or unable to provide him with the accommodations he is entitled to under the IDEA. Atticus himself testified during the Public Forum at last week's BOE meeting.

You can read more about Atticus in Lisa Philip's story here. It is the story of a parent and child whose only goal is to open the doors of learning. Imagine yourself in this child's shoes: compelled every day to go to a place where adults encourage you to do things that you cannot do, and that will make you sick. Imagine yourself as his mother, one person against an unhelpful and unsympathetic system.

Howard County Schools used to be known as providing the gold standard in special education services. Sadly, that is no longer true. I have to wonder if the current focus from the top on test scores and the yearly gutting of the special education budget have something to do with this. Teachers in the classroom struggle daily to do what is best but are they being provided with the support and funds to give their students what the law requires?

Data show that unlimited funding goes to lawyers to fight parents of special education students who are attempting to get the school system to provide their children with free and appropriate education to which they are rightly entitled. Imagine what an amazing change would come about if we shifted where that money goes.

Imagine that. Imagine the doors to learning opening for Atticus, and for many other children whose names we do not know.











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