When my son was in the 7th grade, I was told in May of that year that his teacher wanted to hold him back due to low test scores, lack of interest, and lack of effort. Although I immediately disagreed with the later two, I suggested having him tested for a learning disability. I was told that there was no way in which to get him tested before the end of the school year. Then I suggested summer school in which I was told that would be double jeopardy. Huh, I questioned. It was explained that they do not do both. They don’t hold a child back and send him to summer school too. This did not make sense to me. If a child is in jeopardy of failing I believe that child should have all available resources afforded to him but apparently I was alone on this issue and in my thinking. I refused to sign the form allowing them to hold him back.
I didn’t know what to do but what I did was two things. I immediately filed an appeal with the school district. Secondly, I remembered that I had a recent connection with someone who worked for the school district and in counseling testing department at that. I called this person and asked for a favor in which it was granted. My son had completed all testing within three weeks. As it turned out he did in fact have a learning disability. While attending the next meeting with two of his teachers, the principal, and a learning resource specialist, the principal announced that he would not be held back due to the appeal that I filed.
One teacher was visibly upset by this news and questioned why I was able to do this. Because I’m his mother and his advocate that’s why. I will never forget her response in which she said, “Allowing him to pass is a big mistake. We will all be right back here next year this time and he will never pass the state exit exams.” Then she went on to say that she was refusing to sign any forms in which stated that she was in agreement with this new decision.
I am happy to report that although my son was eligible for special resources, he only utilized them for two years. All he needed was a different style of teaching to match his different style of learning. I understand that teachers cannot cater to each and every student’s learning style due to the enormous class sizes. I also believe that as parents we need to speak up for our children and advocate on their behalf. Most students want to succeed and will believe in themselves more when they see others believing in them. Parents should not be afraid to stand up for their children in any circumstance.
Last but not least, my son made the honor roll almost every semester beginning with 8th grade. He is now a senior and will be graduating in June. He has passed both high school exit exams and has had his driver’s license for the past 1 ½ years. He just completed an application for the local community college and will start working on his Associates Degree in Graphic Design beginning this Fall. If you can’t tell by now, I am so proud of him for not giving in and giving up. We already have enough young men from single parent homes that meet that criteria, but not here!
Guest post by Cornelia Gibson of Surviving Broken Promises