Buyer beware: This is what “choice” can mean.

I have been made aware of another “choice” story. I understand they are not all the same, but c’mon. Maybe this is why thinking people understand we need to be loyal to people and address the needs of society, not create a market that commands loyalty to it over them. Instead of “choice”, maybe we need other words to describe schools like this. “Privately managed semi-selective option” schools?

Anyways, I came across this story from a parent whose child struggles with the same condition my youngest has (P.A.N.D.A.S.). I wrote about it in January in a letter put on educationpost after a call for uplifting, positive stories. It really is sudden, alarming, and so far my wife and I appear to have been fortunate. Click on the link to go to the archived original, or just read the story below (more about the teacher, but describes my daughter).

 

A colleague recently suffered a series of tragedies, starting with the loss of a son who was grown—but still a young man. Despite this, she kept her composure, her warmth, and her professionalism in front of the children she teaches.

One girl, in particular, had come down with a rather serious condition resulting from a strep infection that had not been effectively treated. The student, formerly bright, capable, active, and always well-behaved, had disappeared and been replaced by a withdrawn, nervous, malnourished ghost…but was slowly coming back.

This colleague found ways to be there for her class and involve and encourage this young girl on the heels of and in the middle of the series of her own personal tragedies (that would have had other teachers taking as many days/weeks off as their contract would allow). I watched and listened as she prepared to send kids off for the holiday break with a few small gifts and the advice to hug, love and thank their parents because their parents love them very much.

How she didn’t lose it—I don’t know. But I do know that her whole class, especially that little girl who is sitting three feet away from me right now and doing well, is blessed by the presence of this teacher in her school.

Now this other parent, with a story of her own that I just read this morning, describes a “choice” school she got her children into-that is now sending her child back to the “home school” because medical treatment is needed that would temporarily impact attendance-maybe for a month or so. “Forced out” and transferred. Is this the kind of thing that “choicers” promote and defend? Again, I like parents having choices-but I want those choices to be honest, held to the same expectations and standards, and to not boast and/or be promoted for results attained through manufactured enrollment. Prove yourself with the same populations, by overcoming the same struggles, and by providing the security and stability of a group of adults that serve children-not numbers.

Here is what I wrote to this parent:

Tell me about “forced out”. How does a conversation like that happen in a school that wants a great reputation, but is unwilling to welcome a sick child and work with parents to make good things happen? I only ask because I am an elem teacher of 15+ years, have a 10 yr old w/PANDAS (thankfully in the school I teach in), and have been exposed to the rhetoric of failing public schools and how much greater “choice” schools are [or how every parent deserves choice, is better served by choice…].My suspicion is that they are sometimes great because they do the selecting and are unwilling to be a welcoming “home” school for kids if that relationship requires any effort on their part. I know this sucks, I can’t imagine a school sending a kid away, and I wonder if you are free to respond to them

“No, this is my child and your student. I will meet my responsibility and you will meet yours-that is serve the children, not your bottom line. On the other hand, I’m sure the local radio station/ news-paper would like to help me share out my dilemma while I try to figure out what to do.”

Good luck with this and with treatment.

Children who are ill, children that require understanding and low-level accommodation…if any school “forces out” a child like that…that is definitely not a “choice” school.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s