A lot of you know we are struggling with an issue in our school district right now. It has been suggested by the administration to move 4 kids with special needs (Cooper included) out of their current school and across town, to make room for incoming all-day kindergarteners.
We are sad, mad, worried, shocked, upset.....
From the day Cooper was born a huge worry we have had is: will he be accepted? Will he have friends? Will kids like him?
And at his current school, they do. They really, truly, absolutely do.
Kids fight over who gets to sit by him at lunch, he has to wave away groups of kids yelling his name in the hallways, the Cooper fan club mobs him at recess, and Grace's class argued over who got to be his 'big buddy' when their class was matched up with his. All our worries have slowly melted away over the past few years.
He is included. He is liked. He belongs.
And now, our school district is considering breaking all that up.
They talk about space and resources and numbers and money. That it is just 4 kids, so the impact is small. They talk little to nothing about inclusion and peers and the struggles of kids with special needs. Besides that yes it is hard, but they've done it before, so it will be just fine.
I'm sorry, I just can't get behind that. To these 4 kids with special needs, the impact is huge.
They can't promise me Cooper will be fine. That a kid who can barely talk and walk is going to be just fine at a new school with all new kids and teachers. That he is going to have peers who love and adore and look out for him. That the stress of a new school isn't going to set him back months, or worse. That separating him from his neighborhood friends and his own siblings isn't going to matter. That he is going to thrive as much as he does at his current school. No one can promise that.
The fact that he is in the moderately disabled program means a large part of his day is spent in the regular classroom with typical kids. So to us, that IS his program. Even more so than the specialized room he spends as small as possible amount of time in. We wanted him to be mainstreamed and to receive his services inside the classroom as much as he can. So when all that work we have built on for almost 2 years is so easily dismissed, it is awfully hard to swallow.
To uproot the kids who have the hardest time adjusting and adapting, no matter their numbers, is cruel and short-sighted. We are truly hoping our school board can see beyond the numbers and see the children. Our Cooper. And realize that he counts too.