Saturday, February 20, 2010

The sad state of Ontario Public Education

I've been so busy lately, I haven't been here to comment on anything....why am I so busy you might ask? Well, my days are spent driving a lot, approximately 84 miles a day, because a year ago, we enrolled Limefreckle Jr. in a private school in a different city, that specializes with children on the Autism spectrum. This has been a huge financial and personal undertaking, but has been the absolute BEST decision we have ever made for Limefreckle Jr., and I thank my lucky stars everyday that we have found this setting for him. However, often I think about the 100's of families that don't have this option, and are forced to deal with the public school system. I often read the stories at this website, I have so much respect for Linday Moir, he is an advocate here in Ontario, and I actually consulted him when I was having trouble dealing with our local school last year. I encourage all parents that have to deal with the special education department in their school board to educate themselves the best they can about what their rights are. Unfortunately, the government needs to do a lot more than just talk about what they promise our children in the schools, they need to start taking the steps required to enforce these changes, they need to step up and require our school boards to comply with the government initiatives, but I feel strongly that if you at least know what your rights are, you have made the first step. I recently read Lindsay's latest entry, and my blood began to boil. A parent of a child with high functioning autism was being told by the school board that their child may have "mental health issues" interesting to read that, because, dear friends, my school took the same tact with me last year.....they wanted further testing for our son, they felt "more was going on", and I'm so saddened to see that this must be the newest way of trying to get rid of the harder kids to handle... I hear more and more stories of schools that take a "we don't want these kids here" attitude, and it really saddens me. Whenver I tell people about what we went through dealing with the public system, people are normally shocked and appalled, the average person with kids that don't have any issues have no idea how poorly children with disabilities and their families are treated by the schools, the places that we THINK we can turn to for help with our children. While at least I've had the good fortune to be able to get away from that for awhile (the school Limefreckle Jr. goes to only lasts till grade 8 - eventually I will have no choice but to go back to the public system) I have vowed that I will continue to try and advocate for a better system, so that our schools can stop burying the heads in the sand with an "I don't want this child in our school" attitude, and start taking leadership and responsibility for the positions that they, as educators, hold in our society.