|J-man is in a funk, too.|
(Warning: Philosophical rant ahead. Proceed with caution. And wine... lots of wine.)
This situation with the school district has me quite in a funk.
It isn't entirely about the conflict, although certainly that is the nexus, the center round which the funk rotates. It is hitting me quite hard, this idea that we are on our own on this. I guess I had this illusion that everyone in a helping profession actually wants to.... err... help? And maybe they think they are, in some twisted "we know better than you and your opinion is irrelevant" kind of way. I can't even wrap my head around their reasoning, it is so foreign to me.
And to be honest, their reasoning doesn't even jive with their policy and their own initiatives. Clearly, based on website and literature from our district, preschool inclusion is suppose to be a "focus"...an ideal they are pursuing, striving for. Indeed, while googling 'preschool inclusion' I ran across a site devoted to the idea of preschool inclusion. Ironically, the director of early childhood at my district had even commented on the article (weird irony, I know). I'll protect her identity, but she said in part (in relation to the difficulty in training, organizing, and supporting preschool inclusion, which they strive to do... italics mine)...
".... However, the comments from our partners (in the community) always tends to be that they need more support, a teacher full time or a para full time. Even the para model has been met with a lukewarm response as our partner programs want licensed teachers. Some of these models are very expensive and we are limited to the number of slots they will open for us (for good reason with their size limitations, too). As much as we do to train and collaborate it still feels like the old "your kids" versus the "community kids". "
Clearly (while I hate to admit it) the director is really frustrated with what she sees as an inability of the community preschool programs (be they private or public) to work with the district in a meaningful way. I get that, for sure. Change is hard for any system. Of course, there is a hesitancy to invest the money in providing the support. A full time teacher or para is pricey (a worthwhile investment in my eyes for many reasons, but pricey nonetheless). And part of the frustration stems from the reluctance on the part of the community preschool staff to be a full partner with special education, I am sure.
Except, of course, our preschool wants to learn. They really, really do.
And we, the parents, want to collaborate. To be part of the solutions. We really, really do. We have a successful home program that we would love to tell them about, to get them to try. We want to tell them about him, and what we see as his real needs. We want to be involved in the solution to the problems in the classroom, and as we are the experts on the J-man, we should be.
So I am not sure I buy the "your kids" vs "community kids" beef. When we have a willing preschool, a willing family, and a desire to support J-man in his community setting but the lack of support to really help him progress, the district's answer is to segregate him. Not to build skills here, provide support and opportunities to expand the practice of these teachers in the community, skills they might just use down the road, with the next 'J-man'. Nope, just pull him out: it is quicker, easier, and cheaper.
There is this disconnect between the ideals espoused and the practice in place. It is like those people who have their corpus callosum cut, resulting in the hemispheres of the brain being separate and unable to communicate with each other. Each side operating on a completely different frequency, and neither side recognizing or communicating with the other. Literally, the right side doesn't know what the left side is doing.
(Note: I used the words "funk" and "jive". Can you guess the era I was born in?)