Tomorrow is the first day of school. I have no idea what class Ella will be going into nor what kind of support she will have. I had hoped the school administration would have come to a better understanding of inclusion and realized Ella’s worth as a learner and been better prepared to give her the best education possible but it would seem the situation looks even worse than it did at the start of last year. I am still praying it all works itself out and that she will be fully included in the grade two class with proper support but am feeling once again an urgency to petition for proper policies to protect students like Ella. How they can justify giving no Educational Assistant support to a child with Down Syndrome, is beyond me.
Through this whole process or, fight – let’s just call it what it is, I have had to check myself.
- Am I fighting for my own selfish point and not for the best situation for Ella?
- Am I holding double standards?
- Am I acting upon biases towards particular teachers or students I do or do not want Ella to be with?
To ensure clarity, I have been thinking about what my goals for Ella are – short term and long term and have discovered my goals are quite simple really. My ultimate goal for Ella is that
Ella would be a confident, contributing member of society.
This is why we insist on full inclusion for her education – because we want her to be fully included in society. Not segregated or set aside. People contribute to society in all sorts of ways. This does not mean that she has a high profile job, or prestige but rather is simply kind to those around her. It means that in some way or another she adds to the wellbeing of her community. Not only that, but she can be confident in her contribution. She sees value in herself and knows that she has worth and is loved.
A huge part of this confidence is fostered in school. Ella spends seven hours a day at school and consequently with the people who are with her, be it her friends, her peers or her teachers. I need to know that those people are being a part of growing that confidence and not tearing it down. I need to know that they are saying that she can, not that she can’t. I need to know that they are reinforcing the fact that she is a learner, a valuable part of society, has worth and has something to contribute.
Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of Ella’s life. And just like every other day, I fight for my daughter. I fight for her place as a learner, I fight for inclusion and I fight for her acceptance and I dream that one day, the world will see her as I do – as one of the most amazing little girls in the whole world who is worth more than the dollar amount the Edmonton Public School District places on her.