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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Can't Have Them Learning Too Fast, Can We?

More craziness from school districts who can't cope with homeschooling.

I am glad we live in Washington. It has many problems, but at least we do not have to report to the school districts. When they can produce children who can perform better on standardized tests than homeschooled kids, they might have a right to an opinion, though that still wouldn't give them any right to my children. I do not have a problem with public education, but I am starting to have a problem with the sense of entitlement that the system has over any school aged children.

I got to deal with that recently in our own school district. There is testing that is available free to any school aged child from the school district for children who have speech or motor skills or any other type of developmental delay. The state law here, at least, requires that this testing is available to any child, regardless of enrollment in the public school. Private school students as well as homeschooled students are to have access to the testing and subsequent therapy, if it is necessary.

Since we have some concerns about Elijah, our pediatrician advised us to get this testing done, and at least see if there is a real problem, or if he is just working on his own schedule. So, I called the local school (it has to be done in the school in which the child would be enrolled). First thing was their insistence that I had to enroll him. I explained that he was homeschooled, and that I wasn't going to enroll him, and that the law required this testing to be done by the school for anyone in their district and so on. Then, I got to call six different people who all told me to call the next person or the first person, until I finally got the school psychologist. She at least knew the law, and seemed willing to work with me. She needed me to fill out some forms, and to return them to her. No problem.

Then, at the end of the conversation, she said that she would need a release form to get access to all of his medical records. At that point, I wouldn't go along with it. These are the same schools who won't let the parents know anything that happens with their children, to protect their privacy (while at the same time holding the parents responsible for anything the child does), but she wanted access to all of Elijah's medical records. I don't think so. If they need any pertinent medical information, they can ask me to get it. We were asking for an assessment of his motor skills, not a physical, or medical treatment, or psychological evaluation. They do not need to have their fingers in every aspect of his life. What about preserving his privacy from them?

So, we are instead going to pay for the testing ourselves. The test with the schools may be free, but it comes at too high a cost. It turns out the clinic which does the kind of therapy we may need, depending on the test and evaluation results, won't need access to all of his medical records. Fancy that? They ask for the pertinent records to be brought to them. Can you imagine? Yet the school shrink thinks she should be allowed free reign in any part of my son's history that she wishes.

I understand why compulsory schooling came to be, but I think that some people in public education now think that means that children should be forced to be educated by them, in the way they see fit. The superintendent of our local school disctrict is right to exercise authority of the district, but our authority as parents still trumps theirs. We are the superintendents of our childrens' educations, and should we decide to put them in private school, home school or public school, or with tutors, that is our decision, responsibility and right. I know I am not the only parent who dislikes the usurpation of the authority and respect that the school districts attempt to wrest from parents.

I used to think this was just a traditionalist, religious point of view, but my homeschooling moms group is full of mostly secularist parents, and they have the same view. Schools and school administrations do not always know best. Parents who live with and raise their children daily know their children better, and need to be informed and involved every step of the way, not told that since they are only the parents, they don't really count and that their understanding of their child is not as deep as the schools. Please.

I still remember the story one of our priests told of his brother who was put in a special education without anyone notifying, let alone asking the permission of his mother. (I know his wife reads my blog, correct me if I am wrong about the details.) He exhibited some strange speech patterns, which they assumed to be a developmental problem, and they were sure they knew best how to fix him. When their mother found out she was livid. You see, she was actually trained in special education and linguistics. She marched into that school office and asked what the signs were that made them so concerned. They were typical of a foreign student who came from China. What the school didn't know, and never would have found out, since they didn't bother to talk to the parents, was that he was born in China, and had been raised around Chinese speaking maids and nannies, and his first language had actually been Chinese. He didn't need special education, he needed acclimation to American English now that he was back in the states.


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