I am the kind of person who laughs excessively at my own jokes. When I do this, it is kinda adorable. Not annoying or pretentious at all. Just silly and infectious- unless you are one of my children and then it could be misconstrued as aggravating.
IEP meetings are mostly awful. Sometimes boring- which is a tactic teachers and administrators use to wear you down. I usually wish I had brought snacks.
Our last IEP meeting (Individualized Education Plan) was a disaster. During Hour 2, I started crying and didn’t stop. I cried so long that I got to my angry tears.
I have laughed for over a week now at my own joke- or sarcasm. I could not and cannot get the IEP team to address the fact that decades of research have shown that full inclusion for kids with an intellectual disability leads to the best short term and long term outcomes.
So when the team had finished giving their opinions that Mim should be pulled out for more small group instruction in a special education room with peers who all have disabilities, I lost it.
I said, “I guess y’all don’t believe in climate change either.“
The guy from the school district replied “That’s not fair, Martee. Mim requires a smaller group. She would benefit from more pull out instruction.”
And through my sobs, I managed to say “And it rains in Georgia so there must be no shortage of water.” Or something like that.
It felt good to speak. I quit nodding and agreeing and hoping that these people would want what I know is best for my daughter.
I can look back at that meeting and be proud of my belligerent yet sober comeback. Of all the times, I have berated myself in those tricky lonely hours before sleep for not saying the right thing or dishing it back- I did it. This time when it really mattered, I threw a good punch. I’m practically the Rocky of the special ed world. I have giggled and repeated my tirade to anyone who will listen, downplaying the weeping and focusing on my witty repartee.
My sister asked me this weekend how to comment on a teacher’s excessive homework or lack of instruction without pissing off the teacher. She wanted to know how I as a teacher myself, stand up for what I believe is right about education.
I stay out of most scuffles. I’m not a PTA mom so I don’t know most of the kerfuffles and Facebook rumors. I just know and feel confident in my knowledge of my child and of special education which is my field. I have no intention of ever upsetting anyone. My most valiant need is that you love my child. And I have been so lucky to have so many teachers love my children. I advocate for Mim. As a teacher, I don’t fault parents when they go after what they know is right for their child. I assume all teachers understand my fervor stems from love and my need to protect my child.
I truly believe (I have the law and research to back me up) Mim should be fully included. Her best chance at positive short term and long term life outcomes hinge on full inclusion.She should be included because she is a person. Not because she can keep up. And not because she won’t cause trouble. Separate is not equal. (Y’all are familiar with that tenant. Right?) Mim deserves her best chance at a full enviable life with high expectations and varied opportunities. Philosophically and legally, Mim, as a full member of society, is entitled to a free and public education wither non disabled peers.
I’m not folding. If it takes due process, I will not give up. If I agree to anything less than full inclusion, I am sanctioning the segregation of my child. Mim will never be told she is less than. I will never agree to the discrimination of people with disabilities. Mim deserves my love and protection and so much more.