Thursday, March 02, 2006

[random] "I never tell anyone this" - Unexplored region, indeed; part 3

original map photo, iStockPhoto - Copyright: nick belton [The 3rd installment of aforementioned long multi-part parenting-related post with boring self-absorbtion and introspection.
  • Part 1
  • Part 2
  • You have been warned.]
    So, where were we? Oh yeah, the results of The Boy's testing. I jokingly described the test results to a co-worker as "Well, we have to tie up The Boy and throw him into Lake Union; if he drowns, then we're okay, but if he floats, we have to burn him." Based on her tests, the psychologist felt very strongly that The Boy should be in APP. In addition to his (scarily) high test scores, he showed some problems with prioritizing and processing information - the manifestations of which we'd definitely noticed, but wouldn't have identified as such. The APP program, with its smaller classes and teachers already accustomed to dealing with mutant kids with exactly these issues, now seemed like the only realistic option. Well, that certainly threw a new wrinkle into things... As we left her office with a grainy photocopy of the test results, we began discussing filing an appeal. My wife fired up her Treo to get the deadine for the appeal from the ALP website, and started freaking out. The deadline had passed the day before. In retrospect, I think we knew that when we scheduled the followup visit with the psychologist - but it hadn't seemed like a big deal because we already had the ALP's initial results and weren't planning on appealing. Can you say 'panic', boys and girls? We grabbed some lunch, and while we waited for the food, we tried contacting the ALP office - with mixed results. Unable to get a satisfactory reply from anyone we reached by phone, we decided to go and be a nuisance in person... We sucked down lunch and flew down to the district's administrative office. Once there, we wheedled a phone number out of the receptionist and actually got to talk to the director of the ALP. As related to me, the conversation went something like this: "Yeah, we're trying to find out what we need to do to file an appeal..." (brusquely interrupting) "Sorry, can't do it; the deadline was yesterday." "Yes, but we only got our testing results today." (pause) "Why'd you wait this long?" "Because we didn't expect his test scores to be so high!" (longer pause) "Do you have his test results?" "Yes." (pause) "How soon can you get here?" "We're in the lobby now." (long-suffering sigh) "Okay; write me a love-note and I'll see what I can do." So, this was to be our appeal: a handwritten note explaining how this had unfolded, with our blurry photocopy of the test results stapled to it. Not the most polished presentation we've ever made, but at least they were taking it... By the time we'd wrapped everything up with the School District, it was just about time to meet with The Boy's kindergarten teacher. She invited us into an extra classroom so we could talk in private, and, squatting on those damn tiny chairs, we laid out what had transpired: The Boy's test results, what the psychologist had said, what we'd done as far as filing our half-hour-past-midnight appeal... His teacher listened patiently and intently - it's pretty clear that she really likes The Boy, which is a good thing, because otherwise I think he'd already be labled as a Troublemaker-comma-Individual-comma-One Each. When we finished, she nodded, and said, "Well, that explains a lot". She paused, and then said "I never tell anyone this... [The Boy] needs to be in APP. Don't even bother with Spectrum - it won't be enough. Parents come to me every year asking if their child should be tested or if they should appeal to try and put them in APP, and I usually say 'No'. But not [The Boy]. If the appeal fails, keep him here for next year, and let him work on the social relations that are forming." She continued - "We've each got 25 kids in our classes, with a wide range of abilities and interests; there are no resources provided for kindergarten other than the teachers, so there are no screening programs or interventions available. I've got six kids in my class alone that I've put down as needing some kind of testing next year; [The Boy] was one of them, but I told the office not to start that process for next year, and that you guys were working on it already. But no; kindergarten is viewed by the state mostly as an exercise in socialization, not education. I don't have anything extra to offer [The Boy], and even if I did, I wouldn't have the time. The classes at Lowell are smaller, and the teachers there know how to deal with kids like [The Boy]." "He needs to go to Lowell." When The Boy's teacher found out that the deadline had passed, she asked if we had an email address for the ALP director - she was going on vacation, but she'd make sure to personally send an email on The Boy's behalf that night. We provided her with the email address, and discussed the pros and cons of filing a '405' with the school (an administrative plan for 'reasonable accomodation' of special needs kids) to get The Boy back on an even keel, and discussed which of the interventions that the psychologist had suggested would be do-able without adding to his teacher's stress. She didn't see any problems with any of the interventions, and we promised to regroup in a few weeks and see how things were progressing. So, all this was on a Thursday - on the following Monday, my wife called the APP office to find out if the fax of the psychologist's full report had come through. Oh yes, it did, thanks for sending it, but we've already made our decisions - the letters are being printed today, and should be mailed out before the end of the week. Well shit. No wonder the woman we talked to at ALP was brusque (nice, but definitely harried)... They were already deep into weeding out the appeals - and all we had supplied was what could charitably be called a bare-bones implementation. The letter would arrive right around the end of the open-enrollment period - should we fill out the paperwork to transfer him to APP and try and submit it without knowing his status? The person we talked to said that while it was their policy to not release information over the phone, if we hadn't gotten the decision letter by that Friday, she'd tell us what the decision was so we'd know what to do about the paperwork before that deadline passed. We got the letter that Wednesday - they granted the appeal, and we filed the enrollment paperwork with a couple of days to spare, so if I've read the letter correctly (and boy! howdy, have I read and re-read that letter), it looks like we're guaranteed enrollment at Lowell. Next fall The Boy's going to school at Dr. X's mansion. It should be... interesting.


    Blogger Brian Dunbar said...

    Good luck with all of this. My wife is a former special ed teacher, loved her work, hated the system.

    But no; kindergarten is viewed by the state mostly as an exercise in socialization, not education.

    Bleh. Krep. Socialzation they need, sure. But you can educate 'em that young. My kindergartner is well on his way to reading, and he doesn't get but perhaps 2-3 hours at most of actual schooling a day.

    Of course we are home schooling which makes a huge diff.

    3/03/2006 08:36:00 AM  
    Blogger protected static said...

    Thanks - while I don't think this program'll be a silver bullet, it looks pretty promising...

    Part of the problem has been the need to teach to the lowest common denominator - his teacher's said that she was surprised by the number of kids in The Boy's cohort who couldn't count to 10 when school started. Normally she expects a couple, maybe three; this year she said there were 5 or 6 - out of 25. Another problem has been that the content has been so concrete, and The Boy's been able to deal with abstractions for several years already...

    I'm thinking Dr. X's mansion might be a Good Thing, despite our earlier misgivings.

    3/03/2006 06:12:00 PM  

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