I was watching Oprah Winfrey’s final shows this week. There were several presentations regarding her contributions to education including her celebration of teachers, the girl’s school she founded in South Africa, her ability to touch the lives of so many children, her book of the month club or the scholarships to young men at Morehouse College.
As I watched this show honoring her, I wondered to myself what about my son. Will he ever feel the rapture and the power of education? Will college be in his future? If not, what will happen to him? What will his life be like? Without education beyond high school, I knew his life would be hard. Both my husband and myself have degrees from college. Even with this education, our life has been a challenge. I can’t imagine facing life without that little extra knowledge and without the advantages it may bring.
Right now my son’s education is in the hands of our public education system. This is the education system that everyone is talking about as failing to prepare our children to be leaders in the world. This is the education system that needs to be completely overhauled. Now keep in mind all of this criticism is in reference to mainstream education. This criticism is in reference to the children who don’t have reading problems. These are the children that do not have problems doing mathematics. These are not the children who have autism. These are not the children who struggle with school, who need to learn things in a different way, and who have learning disabilities. I am not talking about the children that have developmental delays. I am talking about children who need a little extra help. There is a group of children who do not fall into the classification of children with developmental delays or in with children in the mainstream educational programs. I am not talking about have a “quality of life” plan, which is directed at children with developmental delays.
So what is a mother to do when she has a child that has learning disabilities? How does she ensure that her child is prepared for an adult life, facing the world on their own? This topic leaves me sleepless at night. I don’t want my son to have to struggle, especially as a result of limited or inferior education.
As you may already know there are scholarship programs for post secondary school for children with special educational needs. Young people with special needs are finding their way to college more and more, as disability law mandates access to classrooms and campuses, and programs are developed to meet the needs of students with intellectual disabilities. I am very thankful that these opportunities are available.
My concern is not with post-secondary school. My concern is getting my child to post-secondary school. I know that my son is at serious risk for dire consequences of not receiving a proper education. If his education continues as it is in the public school system, he is going to have a hard, hard life. So when it comes to scholarships, I need the help now.
I need maximum access to any educational resources available so that I can get my son through middle school and high school. I can’t rely on the public schools. They don’t care. Children like my son are considered to be a burden on the schools’ budgets and are the first place they cut. It is very obvious to me that the public education system has an objective to limit resources to a child such as mine. They seem to be very complacent to continue passing him from grade to grade without meeting any measurements of a quality education. From what I have seen so far, the Individual Education Program is useless in regard to this. It is a facade to make it look like they are providing an education.
As evidence of this, our school system has been working with my son for 3 years learning basic math facts. The reality of the situation is, if they were really vested in his education, he would have surpassed this level of math in year one. The other evidence of this is my IEP meetings. Everything is presented as going “great.” I am not stupid. I can see where my child is at, as compared to other children in his grade.
My frustration is that I see me child falling further and further behind in a school system who doesn’t care. I want to get him additional help, but I can not financially afford it. I need help and I don’t know where to turn too. Like I said, I appreciate the scholarship programs for post-secondary school, but I need scholarship programs now to get my son through secondary school.
My employer provides a scholarship program to the children of their employees. Once again it is only for post secondary school. I actually submitted an application for my son, and of course it was rejected. From my perspective what good is a post-secondary school scholarship if I can’t get my son through secondary school.
I write this story to raise awareness. I don’t think there is enough public attention on this subject. I am sure if more people saw this topic through my eyes, more could be done to help children such as mine. I will continue in this awareness campaign, and continue searching the web for some program that may give my son a sliver of hope. I realize teachers have a hard job, but I need to focus on the child that I am responsible for, and at this point the teachers have let us down.
For more information on post-secondary education scholarships, check out these sites: