Monday, August 13, 2012

why you might want to have tissue in hand if you ask me where Jocelyn is going to school this year

January of this year just wasn't a good month for blog posts.

I started the month with a post about a shirt's logo that I liked and a conversation that Lee and I had about it, and people were confused by the meaning of the shirt. (In case you're still wondering, the designer of it meant the logo to be a display love for people with special needs.)

I ended the month with a post about our adoption and home-selling plans, which was followed by a post in February with completely different plans. (Way, way, way better plans, because they included our news about expecting Zoe).

And in the middle of the month? A post in which I explained that we would be sending Jocelyn to public school. 

And now?

I honestly don't know.

Here's what I do know:

  • None of the current options with our school district would work well for our girl. (We moved after the choice rounds in our district, which means you get offered whatever kindergarten seats are left over. At this point, that's one school that is way far away from our house. Thanks, but no thanks.)
  • We're still unwilling to consider private school, not only because we're still uncomfortable with the exclusion of kids with special needs from the private school we would otherwise consider but also because we'd like to adopt again in the future (and if we do have to fundraise again to do so, we want to be able to clearly say that we've made financial choices to support our adoption before asking others to support it as well).
  • Any of the charter schools we might have considered are currently full. 
  • It looks like homeschooling is the only other option on the table.
We're concurrently making plans for what homeschooling would look like this year, with a planned start date of September 10, and watching the student seat availability reports for our school district in hopes that something will open up or come close enough to opening up for the student assignment folks to offer us a seat. 

I interrupt this post to remind all of you that I LIKE PLANS. God has clearly deemed that 2012 is the year of teaching me to hold plans loosely and be more flexible, but some days I just want to curl up in the fetal position while hugging a planner and pretending that I have some control over my life. I am thankful that God is in control, and I do know that His plans are so much better than mine, but that doesn't mean I'm not struggling with the loss of the plans I expected.

So when you ask where Jocelyn is going to school this year, please forgive me if I force a huge smile, proudly announce that I think we're homeschooling but I'm not really sure because I still kind of hope that Plan A of the public school we really like will work out, and then promptly burst into tears. 

(You think I kid. I assure you that I do not.)

6 comments:

  1. Oh, I will be praying! We struggled so much with deciding where to send Sam.

    As far as the private school goes, have you talked with the administration about their exclusion of kids with special needs? Sam goes to a *tiny* private school, and there are just very limited funds there. But I know if there were an existing family there who had a younger child with special needs, the school would be more inclined to work out a plan.

    I know you have a lot on your plate (!), but if the private school is one you would really prefer for your kids, it's not out of the realm of possibility that you could inspire them to open their doors to children with special needs. A lot of private schools don't have the manpower to research grants and funding for programs outside the spectrum of the standard educational system. I am sure there are some governmental barriers, too, with how the early intervention program works and funnels children into public preschools for the continuation of their therapies and all.

    I guess all that to say, "exclusion" sounds like they are purposefully refusing to admit children with disabilities, and I'm just wondering about the why.
    I will also add that you sending your child to private school would not cause me to refuse you support in future adoptions. I can't see a good reason why others would, either. I don't see how investing in your young child's education is any different in investing in their college education. But you are certainly more sensitive to the nuances of raising support for adoption than I am.

    (And now my post is longer than yours!)
    I know I just posted what probably sounds like a push for private school, and it's not that at all. But your point there resonated with me since I am on the "inside" of private school now (a place I NEVER thought I would be). We are starting to see some possible developmental delays with C, and so we are having to weigh that in with where she will go to kindergarten. As you know, there are some developmental issues that don't manifest themselves until certain ages, and we are realizing (a year too late!) that we may have pulled her out of EI too soon. But God knew all of that, too, and he is still in control.

    He. Is. In. Control.

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    1. Thank you, Jenn. Especially for that closing reminder. That's what I keep reminding myself! (And it's sweet to have Zoe here as the reminder that His plans are WAY better than mine, because my plans wouldn't have included an adoption yet, and we are so so so so so glad His did!)

      In response to your comment, though, that exact scenario has happened with two families I know ("an existing family there who had a younger child with special needs, the school would be more inclined to work out a plan"), and this school was not inclined to do so. I would have been hesitant to say "exclusion" if it weren't for several families I know having no options there, some for as little as mild learning disabilities, some after the child in question had already been at the school for a year or two before the LD was diagnosed. So, while I haven't had conversations with the administration, I don't think I'm speaking out of place to say "exclusion."

      While part of it is resources, especially in this age of lower enrollments due to the economy, a big part of it is the allure of pretty college attendance stats (accompanied by lists of prestigious colleges/universities) and graduation rates, as well as the expressed desire by parents that their non-disabled children not be held back by the inclusion of those who could be struggling (i.e. not wanting resources diverted from their kids to other kids who might need a little more). I have certainly thought about encouraging change in the sorts of ways you mentioned, and we would try to figure out how to do that if it were a school that we preferred over all other options, but it's not, at least not right now. (And no, I don't think investing in your child's education via private school is a bad option, and it wouldn't be a deterrent to us donating to someone else's adoption either. No one questioned those kinds of choices during the fundraising for our adoption of Zoe; this is just something weighed on our hearts - that we couldn't ask anyone else to sacrifice financially to bring Zoe home if we weren't willing to do so ourselves. As we've looked at the options to save funds ourselves, we feel like the right choice for us is not going the private school route - note that I say "for us," because I don't think that's a universal "all families should" sort of thing, just a "God's leading our family to do this, and He might lead another family to do something different" sort of thing.)

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    2. Ah, I didn't think about the graduation rates and things. So sad that that would be a factor, but I know it is. I suppose the upside in Wake County is that there are lots of great public school options (provided you can get in where you want!), but this is especially disheartening when you think about smaller and poorer school districts where kids with special needs could get a better education at a private school. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised; it's not as though private schools have a great history of inclusion.

      And I know what you mean about the "for us." It's different for every family. I would guess that about 90% of the families at our church here homeschool. I felt like the odd man out for a while, but everyone is very respectful of the fact that each family has to decide what's best for their children.

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  2. We should get together sometime and talk about school stuff. We will be sending our kids to the most amazing classical private Christian school (where I have seen special needs kids in attendance) this year, but I homeschooled for the past 4 years. The way God has used all these schooling decisions, frustrations, disappointments, and moments of sheer elation has brought us all closer to Him. He works all things together for good!

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  3. PS - Homeschooling kindergarten is sheer joy and only takes 4 hours a week at most. If I had the world's top ranking school as an option, I would still homeschool kindergarten. You will TREASURE this year so much. Just don't push her or stress over it at all. Kindergarten is all about exploring God's magnificent creation and having fun. Teaching each of our kids to read was an experience I would not trade for the world or want to give away to anyone else. And this is coming from someone who was an ambitious corporate ladder climber who was initially reluctant to have children in the first place.

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    1. I do have a laidback attitude about it for sure! I don't understand the push for kids to grow up faster than they need to, so I won't be pushing her (plus her tendency is to zoom on ahead full speed, so I'll be running to catch up, if anything!). My biggest concern right now is that I am plumb worn out most days, so doing anything extra is enough to do me in right now.

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