Today is my daughter’s annual case conference. So with utter sarcasm I say to you… I am so excited.
Actually, this year will be a little different. I did the unthinkable last month and discussed getting rid of my daughter’s IEP with her principal.
She is in middle school this year and has Down syndrome and I’m happy to say that she has had a stellar year. But as my thoughts about special education continue to be fine tuned, I’m not sure that her IEP has much to do with her success.
Personally, I am tired of IEPs and case conferences (CC) and all the attention placed on my daughter simply because she has Down syndrome. So I decided – what would happen if I didn’t renew the contract this year?
Think about it. Case conferences by default tell the school and the parents that no one trusts each other to do the right thing. From minute one, you have formed sides. Family sits on one side – school officials on the other. And the more I thought about all this posturing, I couldn’t help but think that IEP’s and CC’s were designed with worst case scenarios in mind.
And before you say it, let me assure you that I understand the benefits of legal protection. I’m just questioning if it’s worth it? If it doesn’t cause more problems than it solves?
When I expressed my concerns and intentions with a friend who is an elementary school counselor, she looked at me stunned. She said to me, “Val, this protects your daughter. It ensures that she gets what she needs – especially during times of budget cuts.”
I confided in her that I don’t believe anyone reads the IEP – they may peruse it, but no one reads it. I went on to tell her that I think the best way to ensure that your child gets the supports they need is to have a good relationship with the school and their teachers. The IEP, by nature, puts this relationship in jeopardy.
As I spoke these truths, I noticed her eyes start to sparkle. I could just see her mind start to process what I was saying. A world where the default for schools would no longer involve bureaucratic processes which dehumanize us all and pull much needed financial resources away from the actual education of students.
Just imagine if you no longer had to do any of this stuff?
Today – it may be a reality for my daughter. I’ll let you know how it goes.