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Derrick's schooling - RonO's Ramblings — LiveJournal

Mar. 8th, 2009 03:59 pm Derrick's schooling

We are having to look into Derrick's schooling for next year. This year he has been at the school at our church, and has been doing somewhat better in many ways -- at least he isn't being bullied by the kids he thinks are the only ones treating him nicely. But the teacher is still not able to actually get through to him and get him to do what it takes for him to learn.

We are exceedingly reluctant to put him into the Oceanside public schools for many reasons. I've heard that the instructional style at a lot of the California public schools would be exactly what we don't need -- an emphasis on having parent's teach the kids basic skills while we teach them values. Further, he would probably be going into middle school, which would be a big issue for him in any rate.

We have identified a school that we think could do very well for him, The Winston School. However, they are a private school and their tuition is a bit more than 3 times what we are paying for the church school. While we technically could afford that, we're not sure we have the means to do so without making serious sacrifices, such as completely cutting out travel and probably several other expenses.

We might be able to get some assistance from the state, if they made a formal placement with the school. However, that could require a year or more from what I was told when I called the school a week or so ago. I was unable to even start to talk to the school district at that time because they did not have any contact information I could find on their website.

It has a couple of times occurred to me that the difference between what we pay now and what we would need to pay could be covered by me quitting tithing to the church -- but I don't think that that is a proper solution.

So both robot_grrl and I are at a bit of a loss as to do. We need to make a decision pretty soon, at least if we want to do much other than throw him to the Oceanside public schools for a year or two and hope that he is still salvageable.

Current Mood: stressedstressed

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Date:March 9th, 2009 01:57 am (UTC)
Oceanside public schools

He has an IEP? You might check with some online resources to see if there is a public school that has a good program for kids with his particular issues.

That was a good resource when we were first dealing with IEP's.

Date:March 9th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
Having been down this road, I vote for the private school. Paying tuition gives you incredible leverage in getting the accommodations that a non-middle-of-the-Bell-Curve kid needs. Public schools don't want to deal with them, and given California's budgetary issues, special ed is going to be the first thing cut. They won't say so directly, but that's what will happen.

Look at your budget as a whole. Look at budgeting the tuition throughout the year, not just during the school year, and talk to the school about partial scholarships. It sounds like you have room in your budget, in terms of your church contributions and your travel budget and other things you might be able to just cut *back* on rather than cut *out*.

Take the money out of his college fund. If you don't get him involved in learning now, he'll never use the college money, and you can figure out what you're doing about college some day when he gets there. Take it from what you're contributing to a 401(K), because an investment in his education now is going to pay off better than the stock market.

Just my two cents.
Date:March 9th, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC)
At this point, special ed is a budgetary plus for public schools because of the federal money available. They get more money per special ed student (about double, I hear) than regular students. Of course they aren't necessarily spending that money on "special ed" but it is there.
Date:March 9th, 2009 01:21 pm (UTC)
What I'm hearing on the Michigan special-ed list is that the district is likely to take the money for special ed, then use it to clear up their budgetary issues.

Example: G was supposed to have a one-on-one para-pro to help him through his day. He had one assigned (she was assigned to help three students in the class). In practice, she was the teacher's aide, doing all of the things that teacher's aides do, and occasionally working with G. Their argument was that G and the other boys didn't need her attention *all the time* and she could do that other work too. Sorry, that's not what the IEP said. In practice, the school district got a teacher's aide for the class, paid for out of the Special Ed budget. Having talked to other people, that's a typical outcome.

In public schools, multiple programs are fighting over limited funds, and there's no payoff for being successful at Special Ed; in the best case, the kid does what he'll do anyway: Graduate. I think in small school districts, the additional funds for SE can help; but in large school districts, the pressures are different and the SE kids get lost amongst conflicting goals.

California as a state has a bad reputation on this front. There is some evidence that schools in Silicon Valley - where autistic kids are a major subgroup, and the parents have money - are doing a good job with educating the alternative kids; but the rest of the state is dubious. The other implication is that the closer you get to Mexico, the worse it is. Ron will need to interview the public school with the same skeptical attitude that he interviews the private schools. Remember, you're hiring someone to educate your child. You should treat the schools with the same respect and skepticism that you treat someone who's going to remodel your house, with the knowledge that mistakes in child education and child-rearing are hard to fix.
Date:March 9th, 2009 02:50 pm (UTC)
Oh I agree with you that the schools will screw around if you let them. I'm taking a class on Saturday offered by the Michigan Special education something or other and Health and Human services called "Getting the most from your child's IEP" in actuality, the foster parent social worker said it should be called "Holding the school's feet to the fire and making them live up to the law." Both my sister (who has 3 kids with IEP's) and I have called the school district on the local school for not following the IEP. I told the principal that this was the only chance he was getting with M. The next call would be from my lawyer. Surprisingly enough (yeah right), the teachers have started making sure M has his alphasmart and gets his extra time.

You have to stay on top of it whether it's a public or a private school, though. The issues are different between public schools and private schools-- instead of calling or emailing the teachers every week like I do, you raise funds and worry that the school is going to close-- you have to put time into the education of your children... it's important.