Friday, October 26, 2007
Dear School District,
You’ve been in the news a lot this past week, and for once the spin is not too bad. Seems there is a little girl in one of your elementary schools, an elementary school in perhaps the most affluent part of the county, who has a rare muscular disorder. Exposure to UV rays of the sun can make her disease worse. According to this little girl’s mother who asked for your help, you decided to build a canopy over the school’s playground so the little girl could join her classmates outside. In the mother’s words, you, school district, said “We would do this for any child. Our public school systems are here to accommodate the needs of all children.” Really? Did you say that?
I’ll come back to your purported statement in a minute, but right now, let’s talk about this playground canopy a little more. Seems it cost $24,000. Sounds like a lot of money for just a canopy, but considering where the school is located and the cost of housing in that area ($500K and up), $24,000 doesn’t sound so bad. Of course, some of the families living in that area would disagree with me, but so far I haven’t seen anything reported about other ways those families feel the $24,000 should have been spent. Some of those dissenting families have expressed concern over the looks of the canopy. Seems they don’t think it fits in well with their expensive bricks and brass. But I’m sure as the trees grow around the playground, the canopy will seem less an eyesore to them. And, according to on poll taken on a local radio station today, over 80% of listeners supported the building of the canopy. It's been quite a while since you've seen spin as good as that, I imagine.
Now, back to your statement about accommodating the needs of all children. I am very happy to hear that, and truly hope it will extend to all areas of your educational mission. In fact, your mission statement, published on your website, does indeed support your accommodation philosophy:
We believe that:
• we can teach every child
• every child can learn
• knowledge is power
• student success requires a shared responsibility by students, teachers,
parents, and community
• every child deserves respect
• every child is unique and has a right to be
• every child can contribute to society
• children will meet our expectations
• given the knowledge and opportunity, children can shape their own futures
• the process of schooling must change to be effective in the 21st century
Our mission is to provide a nationally recognized educational program and staff to develop 21st-century citizens who can achieve full development of their potential and, as critical thinkers and lifelong learners, exhibit through their character and values a commitment to their community and the nation, as well as personal integrity which will enable them to meet the challenges of change.
So, just for the record, can I now expect you to accommodate my daughter’s needs? You know, the one who’s educational plan calls for a sign language assistant for the ENTIRE SCHOOL DAY and for whom you are only providing such support for part of the school day, and the one who was left ALONE in the classroom yesterday while everyone else went to the pep rally – ALONE as in no one, not staff, teacher, or even another student was with her – you know, my daughter who is deafblind and epileptic. Should I expect this new accommodating philosophy for ALL CHILDREN to begin today? Just wondering…..