As this school year has progressed, I’ve kept watch over MJ’s classwork and homework. I’ve kept notes of the homework he is given as well as notes regarding the classwork they say he does in class. One component has been missing…The students have no online curriculum! Yes, they have access to textbooks online but there is nothing in place to help engage the students and sharpen their skills in the areas of reading and math. During one parent teacher conference this year, my husband and I made it clear that we wanted MJ to work on an online program during class. MJ constantly tells me that he is on Starfall.com! While I love Starfall, because it did help MJ to read, I don’t feel this is something that he should still be using in school. For goodness sakes, he has been using it since he was 3 years old! I wouldn’t mind if MJ used is for free time or before dismissal, but it appeared to me that he used it daily while at school. After our meeting, I followed up with an email about our request for an online program. Our request was basically ignored by all individuals. Since I work in the school system, I see what is made available to the general education students. This year, for example, 2 online programs were purchased by the district, for use in the general education classes. Now we all know that these online program costs thousandssssss of dollarssssss. We were told to incorporate these programs into our curriculum. They ended up being great programs that helped to engage students and reinforce reading skills at each child’s reading level. As the days went on I got angry. I thought, Why doesn’t MJ and all of the other special needs students have access to a program like this? Why isn’t a program available for them? Aren’t they just as important as the general education students?” At that moment I was compelled to resolve this issue. I sent an email to all of the district personnel in charge of the special needs program, including the autism curriculum person. I quickly received a, “thank you for your email, we’ll get back with you” response. After 2 days I did receive an email stating that they would look into the information. Five days after that, I received an email and telephone call from a woman in charge of curriculum for MJs school. She informed me that she visited his classroom, unannounced, and observed MJ, the teachers, and the instruction for the day. She then said, “His teacher is very old fashioned.” I actually laughed when I heard this because this is not news to me. She then went on to explain that she gave his teacher a list of online resources that he can use in the classroom and requested that I give her a week to find out more information. Well, guess what was in MJs bookbag that day…He came home with the same list of resources. After that week, I emailed the woman and the autism curriculum person AGAIN to clarify my request…I DON’T WANT A LIST OF RESOURCES THAT HE CAN USE AT HOME! I DON’T GIVE A RAT’S BUTT ABOUT HOW OLD FASHIONED HIS TEACHER IS! WHAT I WANT AND WHAT HE NEEDS IS TO USE AN ONLINE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM IN THE CLASSROOM, JUST AS THE GENERAL EDUCATION STUDENTS DO (sigh)! I wrote that to them as professionally as I possibly could. The next day I received an email stating the online program that he would use as well as the fact that it would be used with fidelity and that training would be given to all necessary personnel. You better believe that I will be ensuring that this takes place next school year and thereafter.
It is sickening to me that something was not already in place. It’s sickening to me that they don’t value MJ and other special needs children the way that they value the general education students. It’s sickening to me that better instructional strategies aren’t being used in his classroom. They will not deprive my son of having FREE and APPROPRIATE EDUCATION. That will never happen under my watch.