On Thursday night, I had planned to speak to the Board of Education during the Citizen Comments section at the end of the meeting. However, due to inclement weather, the meeting was adjourned before I was offered the opportunity to speak. I had intended to offer the board my thanks for honoring my daughter during the Celebrations section of the meeting earlier that evening. My girl has won First Place in the Primary Division for Film Production in the State’s PTA Reflections competition this year. Her video, which you can see below, is on diversity. Specifically, she is talking about the diversity that we have in our family as a result of her brother’s autism.
And just in case you were wondering, yes, we’re extremely proud of both our kids. As I hope every parent feels, my kids bring joy to my life in ways that constantly surprise and amaze me. My daughter’s unconditional love for her brother, even when his illness disrupts her life, never ceases to inspire us.
I think this comes through clearly in her video, and I believe that’s why it’s winning. The video has been sent on to the national competition as well.
The comments that I had planned to make Thursday night were to thank the board for their support of our PTAs and for honoring my little girl. They were also intended to encourage them to learn from her about how to care for people.
Here’s what I had planned to say:
Thank you for honoring my daughter tonight. My little girl loves her little brother more than nearly anyone else on this planet. Your recognition of her video about him is appreciated both by her and by all brothers and sisters of special need children.
This is a testament to the teachers, administrators, and parents of Mt. Gap Elementary School.
It is a testament to all siblings of special needs kids.
Thank you for finally coming to Mt. Gap this past Tuesday to discuss why you believe it necessary to close the school that has given so much to my daughter and merge it with Mt. Gap Middle. As her video shows, not all indicators of efficiency can be evaluated by a standardized test.
Thank you for acknowledging that my son’s classroom has been understaffed and unsafe this year by adding an aide to the room. I have received reports from across the district of special education students who have been put at risk as a result of their teachers having too little support in the classroom. Although you like to believe and tell others that this is a teacher problem, it isn’t; it’s a systematic failure on the part of this superintendent and this board to understand what it means to work with special education students. Without knowing the children, you cannot adequately evaluate their needs. This is why you must trust your teachers and principals. Frankly, you seem incapable of doing that. Your insistence on ruling from the top down has made our children unsafe.
So, I thank you for honoring my daughter’s work; however, if you truly want to honor her, here are a few suggestions:
First, make sure that our all of our classrooms are adequately staffed and safe.
Second, please restore funding to special education. Do not balance your budget on the back of my daughter’s little brother.
Third, and this one comes directly from my daughter’s heart, leave Mt. Gap Elementary School alone. Inefficiencies, sir, can be addressed without mergers and without closings, and you should know this.
Beginning when she was 16 months old, we noticed that my girl was “scary smart.” She also loves others more than any one I have ever known. You could learn a lot from her.
I wish I had had the opportunity to say this. I hope that the Board will listen to our students and repeal their decisions to pointlessly merge/close Mt. Gap Elementary and to defund special education.
Maybe if she wins at National, we can say this to them together.