May 31, 2007

School Daze

Hart's school career thus far has hardly been stellar, but now nearing the end of 7th grade, we are entering the home stretch, ready or not. Both Hart and Jeff started out in our local public school district, in the “pre-primary diagnostic room,” which is special educationese for “give these delayed kids a head start.” He continued at the same school in the special ed classroom for two years of kindergarten (August birthday), and two more years in the primary special ed classroom.

Nearing the end of 2nd grade, his sixth year of public education, his teacher took me aside and said earnestly, “I don’t know if we are doing Hart a favor, allowing him to limp along in this setting. I think he might do better in a more structured classroom of behavior and emotionally disordered kids.”

It was a nice theory. Hart washed out of third grade so spectacularly, the administrators all but threw a party when he was asked to leave. Off he went to a specialized private school.

While it has been a very nurturing and loving environment, which is just what Hart needed after the debacle of six weeks of public school psycho third grade, he hasn’t made much academic progress in his five years there. Sad to say, Hart just isn’t a very motivated learner. In fact, he is not much of a learner at all. I often wonder if around first grade, he had some revelation. “I know the alphabet and I can count. My work is done.”

Today we made an orientation visit to yet another school. This is the last stop for Hart. Next fall he will be there, a private school for developmentally disabled students. While I dare not set my expectations too high, I am reassured that the next few years are taken care of. Through eighth grade, the students share the building with a larger population of “regular” kids. Grades nine though twelve are at a Jewish high school in the city, one block from his current school. Then come vocational services, job placement and job supervision. I don’t expect Hart to make up for lost time, but at least I can see the trajectory of the next few years, and as is the watchword in special education, it looks APPROPRIATE.

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