A Clarification

Many interpretations have been made about my last post.  What I intended to say is that diversity training is good.  It should happen.  It brings important, and hard conversations into our lives.  The school district should do this.  Children and adults are negatively effected by racism and we all need to work together to put an end to this and take a hard, honest look at our own actions, stereotypes and interpretations.

I do not believe diversity training takes away from the needs of my children.  

I do not believe diversity training diminishes the needs of my children.

 

The achievement gap is real.  It’s horrifying.  Something needs to be done.  When I advocate for more awareness of dyslexia I am not only advocating for my children, I am advocating for up to 20% of the children.  Rich.  Poor.  Black.  White.  How could more awareness for dyslexia help children without a parent who is able to be an advocate?  How can awareness of dyslexia and different teacher methods help the achievement gap?  Last year I wrote about this in “Complicating Factors.”

Another point I was trying to make: How can we value diversity and narrow the curriculum at the same time?

My advocacy is not meant to take away from other people’s struggles.  I am NOT saying we should train teachers in how to teach children with dyslexia INSTEAD of racial awareness.  But maybe teachers could be provided with current, scientific information about dyslexia also…..not in replacement of the diversity training currently going on.

I do not know what it is like to raise a black child.  I am open to learning about and listening to this experience.  I want to help make the world a better place so these children feel valued and loved and able to reach their potential.

I do not know what it is like to raise a child that is from a family that doesn’t speak English.  I am open to learning about and listening to this experience.  I want to help make the world a better place so these children feel valued and loved and able to reach their potential.

I also do not know what it is like to raise a child with autism, Down’s Syndrome, severe mental health issues, food allergies, dwarfism, a prodigy, a physical disability, a chronic disease, a terminal illness…… I am open to learning and listening to these experiences.  I want to help make the world a better place so these children feel valued and loved and able to reach their potential.

But, I do know what it is like to raise a child with dyslexia.  I can tell my personal story, my questions, my musings, and my struggles to get them a public education that does not leave them dejected, ashamed and left out.

We are all in the same boat.  And when we see a hole, we all need to work together to fix it.  We are only as strong as the least among us.  When equity happens, we are all raised up.

And this is one reason why diversity training and racial awareness is important for everyone.  

 

 

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Another lost day

We’ve been vortex’d…..again.  And, looking at the weather forecast for Minnesota, there is more bitter cold on the way for next week.

While many people are cheering because there is no school today, I am filled with anxiety and sadness.  Today was the day I was going to sign the paperwork to allow #3 to get tested by his school.  I’ve been asking for action since September (actually, I’ve been asking for attention since September of his kindergarten year), paid a large sum of money to a private tester, had meetings, phone calls, e-mails, written a letter, more phone calls, supplied the classroom teacher with information about dyslexia, had other conversations…..and finally I had broken through.  I’ve been asking for a team to sit down and discuss #3 since December.  And now, near the end of January, I was finally given the opportunity to share my opinions and sign a paper that brings all this to the next step, getting #3 closer to the education he deserves.

And now….it’s cancelled.  The process has frozen.

Perhaps it will be rescheduled for next week.  Maybe the week after.  The entire time I hear the clock….tick, tock, tick, tock….and see time wasting away.

1st grade is half over.  #3 has made very little progress.  He doesn’t have weeks, days, or even hours to waste at this point.  I see the other kids in his class making progress, while he stays at the same exact level he was at in kindergarten.  The gap becomes bigger by the day.  Education matters.  School matters.

I can see the future.  I’ve been here before.

He will be tested…eventually.  Results will be questioned.  There will be more meetings….but after spring break.  There will be a lot of head scratching.  I will have a lot of tears.  At some point its the end of April and I’m told, “Maybe we should just put something really minimal in place and figure it out next year.”  Summer school will be suggested….because if the approach didn’t work for 9 months, let’s try it for 2 more!  That sounds logical.  At this point I will lay my head down on the table and ask someone to wake me up when its all over.

How many other children are out there needing school to be in session?

How many other parents are filled with dread because of the lost days?

Time for me to focus on things I actually have some control over.

 Today #3 will weave potholders,

build with legos,

and perhaps make cookies.

IMG_4942

And pray for warmer weather.

 

Complicating Factors

It was too hot.

It was too cold

I didn’t sleep enough.

I dressed too warm.

I started too cold.

I didn’t eat enough.

I ate too much.

I should have had a gel.

I definitely SHOULD NOT have had that gel.

The coarse was too hilly.

The coarse was too flat.

It seemed like we ran uphill, against the wind THE ENTIRE TIME.

There weren’t enough water stations.

I trained too much.

I didn’t train enough.

It’s the wrong time of the month.

I’m still slightly injured.

I injured myself 1/2 way through and gutted out the rest.

There are a lot of complicating factors to running races.  Conditions never seem to be perfect and a runner needs to adjust to the physical conditions around them.  Last spring my goal was to run a 1/2 marathon in 1:40 in order to get into corral 1 for the Twin Cities Marathon.  It didn’t happen.  There was always a complicating factor.  When I finally thought everything was working in my favor and I was going to run a very fast course I had run before….I injured myself.  It’s always something.

While #2 was being reassessed by the school district I had a complicating factor which caused me to not pay enough attention to the process.  My dad was going through a health crisis.  He was diagnosed with end stage heart failure that winter and had an LVAD implanted about a month later.  I was overwhelmed and felt pulled in two different directions.

The reason I share this information is not to gain sympathy, but to illustrate that there is always a complicating factor for families.  On paper I was the perfect parent to navigate the convoluted system of special education and get the best services for my child.  I did my college psychology research on learning disabilities, I worked in Special Ed., I was a 1st grade teacher, I felt comfortable with education jargon, I had a close and trusting relationship with the classroom teacher, I was a stay at home parent with flexibility to attend meetings, we had the ability to get an evaluation by a private professional, I had a strong support system of family and friends, etc.  However, I was also dealing with another stressful situation and that lead me to drop the ball on #2 for a couple months and trust that the school was doing their job.

It makes me sick to my stomach to think that other families are going through the same assessments and IEP meetings every day….well, the “lucky” children who’s learning disability is alarming enough.  Other children are just getting pushed aside and allowed to fall between the cracks (this was the tale of #1 before we moved him to a new school).  What about the children who don’t have parents as well versed in dyslexia?  What about the parents who are working 2-3 jobs to get food on the table?  What about the parents who don’t speak English?  Can’t afford an outside assessment?  Do not have a strong social support network? Have never heard the word dyslexia? Had a negative educational experience themselves so accepts when their child fails as normal?

This weekend the New York Times had a Piece “No Rich Child Left Behind.” While reading it I couldn’t help wondering what role dyslexia plays in the equation of the middle and lower class not performing as well in school as the upper class.  It is estimated that 5-10% of the population is dyslexic.  Many people believe 20% of the population is dyslexic. It does not affect 5-10% of affluent children who are able to afford outside tutoring and private schools, but 5-10% of the entire population.  Up to 10% of any classroom could be children with dyslexia, and our school district doesn’t recognize it and is not equipped to teach these children in the most efficient and effective way we know.  If a child requires a special method to learn, such as the Wilson Reading System, in my district you are told to figure that out yourself, even if your child qualifies for an IEP.  My district has one of the largest achievement gaps in the country.  Dyslexia is not the main reason for our achievement gap, but I do believe it is a complicating factor.  How many children out there are suffering with a learning disability and our schools are not equipped to help them?

My kids are fortunate.  They were born into a family with resources.  I have the knowledge, skill and financial ability (because of my husband’s job) to homeschool and tutor them individually with curriculum designed for children with dyslexia.  This is not most people’s reality.  Our situation is still difficult and we are stretched very thin at times, just like many families.  We are not an affluent family, but we are definitely not poor.  We have material and non-material resources and I was still unable to muster the energy to navigate through the educational system and figure out how to get help for #1 and #2 so they could learn and have the confidence to face dyslexia.

Our society needs to start recognizing dyslexia and do a better job of teaching these children.  We can do something about this.  It will always be a complicating factor, but it shouldn’t be the reason children fail.

For children with dyslexia, it’s time to

slow down,

get better form,

rethink the goals,

practice,

become stronger,

believe in yourself,

and get back on track…..

Monster Dash 2011

just like injured runner.

Imagine the possibilities if we could help children with dyslexia before they failed.

All children deserve the chance to soar.