Always see for yourself

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-30-2011
Always see for yourself
Wed, 04-03-2013 - 3:30pm

A friend passed along this article to me about an important lesson a mom recently learned when advocating for her child:

In summary, what she learned was that while a specific plan or school may look good on paper, it doesn't necessarily mean it will look good in real life. (All that glitters is not gold?)  At her daughter's recent IEP, the team recommended that her daughter transition to a new school that would  "offer a self contained program that would provide her daughter the level of academic challenge she deserved and the social component of classroom peers". Sounds great, right? The mom wisely decided to take a tour of the school and classroom herself before signing off on it and was appalled at what she saw. Among her biggest concerns was a high student to teacher ratio (especially for a special needs class) with a borderline-rude teacher who rushed kids along and provided no positive interactions.

She sobbed in her car ( I can SO relate to that!) but after pulling herself together, she was able to advocate for the RIGHT plan for HER daughter as well as help many other parents in similar situations as well. 

Have you guys ever been in a similar situation? Early on, I really struggled wtih being vocal and "pushy" enough to advocate for what my son needs but over the years, it has become easier for me to do.


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-17-2013
Wed, 04-17-2013 - 1:44pm

I'm new here and have been mostly lurking but I had to respond since we've experienced the exact same situation with teachers who used to teach older kids and then moved to younger kids. My daughter had two teachers like that and it was quite apparent in their teaching "style" that they were used to older kids. Makes me wonder why they even switched to younger ones.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2001
Thu, 04-11-2013 - 6:41am

That sounds like my daughter's kinder teacher although I wouldn't go as far as saying she belittled her students.  She was very strict and she wasn't the warm and cozy kind of teacher that her older sister had, I still remember DD coming home and telling me this teacher scared the class with a story about spiders.  Over time I picked up on some things about the teacher from other parents whose kids had her too, She was a former middle school or high school teacher whose attitude probably matched better there than with little kindergarteners and the rumors were that she was demoted from her high school post and placed in an early elementary class.  That was 8 years ago and it was in a different state than where we live now, My bet is she's still teaching or she's retired by now.  Not all teachers are going to be those warm, fun loving kinds you remember for a lifetime.



iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2004
Fri, 04-05-2013 - 11:24am

My daughter's school, for kinder should have sent up all sorts of red flags for me.   First, she started with 20 kids in the kinder class - at 3 weeks when the parents could transfer, 8 boys left.   When I was able to go in and help with class, I found out why, because the teacher was bad - she demeaned and belittled the kids as her manner of discipline. 

The next year a friend wanted to transfer her son to our our school - she was just outside the lines.   The principal said she could, but would not tell her what teacher the child would have or if it was morning or afternoon until the mom signed the papers.   And, the principal told her once she signed the papers, she would not be allowed to change again that year.  

The mom was really disappointed, but because her neighbor had the same teacher that my daughter had, she knew she didn't want that teacher.  They ended up going to a different school (which would help her work with her schedule,) and the mom and kids were very happy.   For us, it was that teacher and the fact that the attitudes she had were pervasive in the school, that lead to us homeschooling.

Oh, and when the speech therapist told me for my son that I should observe the classrooms so I could do a classroom placement request (based on the fact they liked to give siblings to the same kindy teacher the eldest had and that the teacher had told a boy in speech therapy 4 days a week "don't talk like a baby" so he didn't talk all year, neither the speech therapist nor I felt that was a good place for my son.)   When I asked if I could observe the other classes, I was told that the only way I could do it was to have the speech therapist come with me.   As she was a busy woman with a full load of kids, that was pretty much impossible.  I did the request form for classroom placement, but as I suspected would happen, my son was assigned to the same teacher.   (Which I found out two days before school started.)   It all went pretty much as I expected - that no matter what I would do, he would be given the same teacher.    When the school won't let people do observations, or have strings on it, again, a big red flag.   I am very happy that my son stayed home, his happy wanting to please spirit would have been crushed there.   It was hard - his then speech therapist felt that I was exagerating, (while at the same time admitting that that teacher was the ONLY teacher in the school to not have a special ed kid the previous year,) and felt that I was doing my son a disservice.   But, my husband and I felt that it was best for my son not to be there, and his support was the one that counted most.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2003
Fri, 04-05-2013 - 7:48am

Yah apparently after years of battling the charter school finally got some sped services BUT the head is connected to the probabmatic head of the board who is also a city counclor who is also now in trouble with dept of ed for ignoring their recomendations...hmmm never felt confident his sister would advocate well for my child since he probably would be flagged as not testing well and bringing down their scores...

I choose a Catholic school for my youngest because he misses kindy in our town by 17 days and preschools are riduclously expensive. And just got such a better vibe from them then the preschools and I know I could never send my oldest there because of the IEP but for my little guy at least for kindy its a good fit.

Think many parents loss sight of finding schools that fit and just want the schools with high test scores but there is so much more to get out of schools then to reverbriate answers on a test. The Catholic school wouldn't have fit my oldest even for a year because theyy don't have sped and they need to offer it. Teacher we met with was so disapointed. They do loss kids and some area Catholic schools have added it but it means raise in tuition...

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2001
Fri, 04-05-2013 - 6:42am

Yes, I do struggle with that and the older she gets the more I realize that advocating really is on you and your child.  Petty teacher attitudes aside, take from them the skills and tools that can carry your kid for a lifetime.



iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2010
Thu, 04-04-2013 - 1:32pm

Yes I agree, some schools/programs can sound so great, but they really aren't a good program or just not the right fit for every kid.  And a crappy teacher in any program is not going to help your student make progress, or at least will hinder it.  I work in 4 different elementary schools right now in the same district and they all vary a little, have a different atmosphere, etc.

I have found that charter schools (IME) do very little with sped/IEP's.  They may tell you they have sped services but it's may be one teacher for the whole school.  There have been a few times a new student has moved into a school and I'm puzzling over why their IEP has expired and I check it out and it's because they were at a charter or private school.  The IEP was just ignored and they never did a new one when it expired--basically they pretended it never existed.  

It's hard to know what school to choose for any student, if you are seeing something you don't like or get a bad vibe, I would listen to it.  Just doing a tour and looking at things, you are only seeing the surface of the program/classroom/teacher and if it already looks off, that can't be good. My dd wants to change high schools and it is a tough choice to do and then it makes me wonder if we've done her a disservice by keeping her at the school she's been at for 2 years already.  

“Clearly," said Arthur,"you're an idiot- but you're our kind of idiot. Come on.” 
― Markus ZusakThe Book Thief

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2003
Thu, 04-04-2013 - 8:59am

We know when I was 18 weeks pregnant with DS something was wrong with him that would require more then the normal infant. He was going to need a special bottle since he wouldn't be able to suck. Around the same time we began the day care search. First 2 we got the don't worry we will handle it but of course there were wait lists so kept calling around and 3rd one I specifically asked if there was a wait list and was told no they would have an opening so went down that day. Had the tour pretty much same as other places and we did mention the feeding issue and got the same generic answer and then at the end was told if interest can put our names on the list. What list?!?! lady I spoke to said no list. She stumpled oh she must have been missinformed. Ok introduced herself on phone as director so whatever. Same day we were meeting with an in home day care my mom's friend son used. Had been hesitant about in homes and the moment we met her and started talking we knew this is where he belonged and never looked back. Now I know I could have made an issue with that 3rd place but I was pregnant and emotional and wanted someone who WANTED my child and was not forced to tak my child and she did go above and beyond for him.

Now flash foward to kindergarten time and I need to pick a school. We have schooll choice and really knew very little about the schools in our town and we also had this charter school that almost everyone raved about for high test scores and great acedemics. Once his cleft repairs were done we pretty much was a normal kid until they notice some nasal speech at his 4 year cleft clinic. We were told it was something that probably only fixed with surgery but speech couldn't hurt. Since he preschool missed everything else we started this search thinking we needed just speech. And I will admit he has always been active and I always got the well he is a boy.

So what any mom would do I started to research and this charter school almost everyone raved those that weren't raving were mostly parent of kids who needed special ed or were "behavior" issues or didn't fit a mold. Hmmm warning lights starts flashing. I did ask when I called about the open house if they had speech. By law a charter school is a public school and they HAVE to have these sources but the person on other end stumbled and immediately I flash back to the day care inncident. Yes I can MAKE them get my kid those services but I want someone who WANTS to educate my kid and does not HAVE to. So I never even put our name in the lottery and pretty much pick a local school based on acessability for me and the fact that the lady who ran child care at our temple who was WONDERFUL with DS was a teacher there. Figured I knew of at least one great teacher there and the other schools that were close one had a rep of taking problem kids from other towns and the other was dual language and well with a kid with a speach issue didn't seem like a great fit.

Well I never used to believe in angels until I had DS because someone sure guided me to the right school. So what I have learned listen to that mommy gut! Its usually right. Ask questions get opinions of those who liked and didn't like a school or program. You know your child better then anyone else. If something doesn't feel right there is probably something to that. I learned fast I HAD to be my DS voice. When he was a baby he had 3 surgeries, he couldn't tell the nurse he was in pain I had to speak for him and I battled one night with one and this was our 3rd go around with surgery I think I know when my son is just fussy and when he is hungry and when he hurts. I have been VERY lucky with his school they are VERY proactive and I have yet to have to fight for him, they do most of that. Which just reinforces that my mommy gut was right!