As the school year draws to a close we have been giving much consideration to the educational future of our children, specifically, Ella.
Jakob has had a good year in French Immersion and it presented him with a challenge he otherwise would not have had. But we have to consider whether it is a priority for us to have Jakob and Ella in the same school and if that means that he stays where he is, or if we move him for the sake of Ella.
You see, right now Jakob goes to the biggest school in the district. Because it is the only school in Ladner which offers French immersion, there are two classes of French and two of English for most grades. You do the math. It’s a big school. With a lot of children. And because of a couple of incidents that we had at the beginning of the year involving Jakob, I fear that Ella would slip through the cracks. They were not of bullying but rather, neglect. For example, one day I went to pick up Jakob and he had a big scrap on his head. I asked him how it happened and he said that a boy had pushed him, but he emphasized that it was an accident. I think it is for this reason that he did not go find a teacher, instead, he said that he just went for a walk (my little tough guy). I asked him if he cried, to which he replied, yes. So my question is, if the “lunch monitors” were walking around the school attentively, why did they not notice a crying little boy with a bleeding head? When I asked his teacher about it, she said she thought it was from yesterday…that’s funny because I am pretty sure I didn’t send him to school with a giant gnash in his forehead. You get the point.
So, while Ella is still a year away from kindergarten there is cause for concern – concern for any child.
The other reason I have concern for Ella is because it would seem that in MOST schools there are no expectations for individuals with Down Syndrome. Our speech therapist has a client with Down Syndrome who is in grade 5. When he came to her, he could not read. Now maybe this is me just being ignorant but I would hope that by grade 5 Ella would be well on her way to reading….if not reading comprehensively.
Today, was the grade 7 graduation at my son’s school and I couldn’t help but notice that the girl with Down Syndrome was not up on stage with the class singing. She was helped across the stage and given only the grade 7 completion award (which everybody gets)….It was depressing. It was distressing. To be fair, I don’t know this girl’s story. I don’t know her parents or any other obstacles that she might face but I know that if that were Ella, I would expect more.
I would expect Ella, just like any. other. child. to strive for excellence. To do her best, to receive perhaps a service award (for volunteer hours) or the athletic award, or the fine arts award, or the G -club award for work ethic. Am I completely disillusioned into thinking that Ella can read and write, and do sports, or sing or play an instrument or volunteer or be anything but “r******d”. Friends, why are our expectations so low? What is it going to take to get teachers to understand that my child is teachable, it just may take a different strategy? What is it going to take to educate teaching aids on different disabilities and learning styles so that my child has an equal opportunity to learn the skills that we all take for granted? Why are aids just seen as babysitters?
I am scared because I feel like throughout school she will be inadvertently told, “Ella, stop running, and learning, you’re supposed to be slow and stupid, but don’t worry, we’ll give you a gold star for it.”