Back to school is a busy time for me: classroom set-up, lesson planning, copying, new unhappy parents...
I am a teacher and a parent in the United States. I was going through teacher training as changes were already made and being implemented in the fields of Standardized Testing and Special Education. I held some strong beliefs back then about both and I still have them now, even as I've watched the two areas merge.
The parent I talked to held to the belief that students were put into Special Education to fill a 'quota' so the school could get their 'money' from the government. This father was right, however, the student in question wasn't attending a Title I school. I didn't talk about this fact, go into any politics, rather, my focus was on the student.
His concern was valid for his child, that his child was placed, or tracked, into the wrong 'track' for him.
This is what I was championing for back in college. This is what I would grow combative over, what made my heart both bleed and rage; students who fall through the cracks and get left behind in a system that doesn't cater to the 'in-betweens'.
In this case, the student and his dedicated family were not given the chance to learn what the skills he needs to succeed. They were told the school was doing what was best and the student was thriving and doing well. Sure, when you don't challenge a student to their full potential and he picks up on everything easily because he's not 'dumb', then he will thrive. He will look like a star.
But as he grows up, he will not be given the same opportunities once he is 'tracked' into a low achieving education system. The barriers that existed when he was small do not exist now that he is older. The excuses they used to place him are no longer valid. It's time for him to fly.
As a teacher, I have an obligation to push my students, to teach them as much as they can learn. I have an obligation to challenge myself to learn more to stay ahead of them.
I feel this is my calling, this role, to champion for the little guys who get stuck in the cracks. I'm donning my armor and getting ready for this fight. It might take 3 years to get him on 'track', but it will be worth it.