Being a substitute teacher for Special Needs kids has been very enlightening for me.
I see/hear alot. Many children are poor and neglected - I can see the sadness and frustration in their eyes.
Last week I worked with one of my favorite Special Ed classes. They have a new student and well, I was floored when their teacher told me HER story.
This African- American girl, I'll call her Tammy, is almost 9, but she should be in third grade. More on this in a bit.
She moved here to San Diego with her mom, dad, brother and grandmother after losing everything (including family) after Katrina.
Two months ago her mom died of heart disease.
Last month she was placed in the class I was subbing for - which is a mix of 4th, 5th and 6th mild to moderate special needs students.
I am unsure as to why she was placed in the special ed class - but I think it may be that she just refuses to work and has an incredibly negative/contradictory attitude.
Anyway, she SHOULD be with the 1st - 3rd graders, but she was PROMOTED a grade based on her appearance. She is more developed than girls her age (but I think it's just because she is overweight).
Being a poor, low-income black child from Louisiana,well, you can bet that has had a substandard education. Her father is not very well educated, and he grieving for his wife, so he is not in a position to support her and be the advocate he needs to be.
So here she is, a "slow" learner, promoted a grade and then dumped in a special needs class. The girl is not learning disabled, she's DEPRESSED. She needs COUNSELING and a tutor.
Her present teacher (who I subbed for) fought with the administration until she was blue in the face about getting Tammy the help she needs - and placing her back with mainstream students where she belongs.
The principal WROTE THE TEACHER UP for being in the principal's face!
I cannot stop thinking about Tammy. I am going to try to contact her dad through Tammy's teacher and see if I can help her out. Anjoli (my daughter who will turn 9 next week) could help tutor her - that would make it more fun for Tammy. I think it's really important for Anjoli to see how unfortunate some kids are...and how we cannot turn our back on children in need.
Wish me luck.