I’ve been struggling with this for the past year.
Is it time?
My husband and I had a lengthy conversation about this last night. We both struggle. We struggle because we realize he is doing amazing – and while this success has largely come from his hard work, it also because…
of fantastic classroom teachers
of amazing special education teachers
of processes in place to gain immediate, often proactive, assistance
of continued strong and open communication
of time spent forging relationships
We recognize the truth and it’s a Catch 22. His progress may stand in the way of the very supports that encouraged this progress. Within the next year it will be increasingly difficult to develop new academic and/or behavior goals to keep the IEP.
So, what’s the problem?
The system – and I’m not referring to our school – I’m referring to the process.
It’s all or nothing. He is either on or off the IEP. He is either eligible for services or not. The goal is always to have children exit the system, my goal has always been to not have an IEP. However, the process of exiting is troublesome.
In our perfect world, here is how it would go…
We all agree that he *could* be successful without an IEP (the operative word here is could). His IEP team and teachers would come together to discuss a year’s worth of ‘slow down services.‘ What does that mean? Instead of meeting with his special education teacher every day, he meets with her 2-3 times per week in the first trimester/semester. We continually monitor until one of the following happens…
- As the slow down year progresses in a positive direction we reduce that to 1-2 times per week in the second trimester/semester. At the end of the first slow down year we reevaluate.
- If, in that time, we find that difficulties are persisting and increasing we simply go back to an every day model.
I know, it makes too much sense. Why would we work to slowly remove services from our most vulnerable students? Why would we gradually set them free in this sink or swim world? I often compare what *should* happen to obtaining a driver’s license in Iowa.
- At the age of 14, driers are eligible to apply for their learner’s permit. The permit is awarded after taking a written test. This permit allows driving with a parent or legal guardian, an immediate family member who is at least 21 years old, a driver’s education teacher, or an adult who is at least 25 years old and has written permission from the parent/guardian. Drivers may not carry more than 1 passenger who is a minor without adult supervision, unless they are a family member.
- After obtaining a learner’s permit, drivers move on to obtaining a provisional license. This requires taking an approved Driver’s Education course that consists of 30 hours of classroom instruction and six hours of supervised driving.
- Upon successful completion, driver’s can apply for their intermediate license. This license allows unsupervised driving from 5 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. drivers can drive with a licensed driver who is a parent/guardian, immediate family member older than 21 years old, or designated adult over 25 years old.
- To obtain the ‘final’ instructed Iowa Driver’s License, drivers will have had an intermediate license for 12 months, be accident free, have written approval from parent/guardian, and had 10 more hours of supervised driving.
It may seem as if I have digressed – but I’m simply trying to make a point. Drivers are awarded full licensure ONLY after both meeting academic (written tests) AND practice requirements.
Tucker’s academic success comes only after much practice and this practice comes through his IEP goals and meeting with his special education teacher. Exiting him from the IEP program is like removing the safety net and I’m no Nick Wallenda.
I am not that brave
I am not a risk taker.
Not when it comes to my child’s academic success.
When I asked about this ‘slow down’ idea I was told, “That’s not the way we do things.”
I’m not very good at being told, “That’s not the way we do things.” That is not an acceptable reason – why couldn’t we be more creative? Why shouldn’t we work at changing the system to better serve our children? Is it because we’re bound by state and/or federal regulations? So, someone simply needs to be brave enough and take enough risk to ignite change in the way the system works?
I am that brave.
I am that risk-taker.
Especially when it comes to my child’s academic success.