You HAVE NOT Been Accepted – A Parent’s View of a Declined School Application

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This is the subject of the email I woke up to this morning…..but let me back up to the beginning. In January our school district opened up to accept applications for charter/magnet schools for the 2012-2013 school year.

My husband is a public school teacher, we have many friends in the district, but for the first time I am entering the district as a parent. My son will be turning 5 years old this weekend which means that this next school year he is eligible for kindergarten.

child holding crayons

In our district, children are not required to go to school until they are 6 years old, however academically my son is very advanced next to his peers and I do not want to make that gap any further in distance by keeping him back a year. Never in my life did I intend to send my son to public school.

Please don’t be offended, my own husband is a public school teacher as are some of our best friends. It has nothing to do with what he will or will not learn in a public school or the quality of the teachers, but especially in this district I have seen first hand the children that fall through the cracks.

I’ve seen how teachers are not taken care of. The children that do not get into the gifted program even though their schools are the highest in the class because of their skin color (yes, this DOES happen-I’ve seen it myself). The autistic children whose teachers have no extra help and are required to have an academically nonfunctional child meet state standards simply because the parent has not taken the time to get them diagnosed or file their paperwork.

The child thrown into a classroom who cannot speak even one word of English and is expected to meet certain test scores. It’s not fair to the teachers and it’s not fair to the students-yours or mine.

Exploring a New Learning Style One Step at a Time

This is not a debate on how broken our public education system is in America. Certainly not all schools are this way but many are.

You see, my son, although highly gifted, also has Asperger’s which essentially means he has a more difficult time interacting with his peers – and that includes in a classroom. My son, although 4 years old, can read on a 2nd grade level.

This puts me in a bit of hard spot in my mind as he will have an even further harder time adjusting into the classroom. There are several teachers whose class I would LOVE for my son to be in, except that my son cannot handle the children in these classrooms that should not be there. In an effort to “leave no child behind” we have left behind our intellectual children and other children who require a little bit more care.

college student studying

The district has refused my son an IEP for the sole reason that he is academically capable so we cannot work towards a scholarship that will put him in a better school. So my husband and I decided that for next school year we would take his entrance into a school in several steps.

The first step came in January when our magnet/choice schools opened for applications. Within one hour of opening I had applied at the 3 magnet schools we considered sending our son to.

I chose these schools because they are known for their high academic learning, hands-on labs and great care of working with gifted children. This morning I received the email in bold letters, underlined that my son was NOT accepted. As a parent sending my first son to school my heart dropped a little bit.

I know how the system works, we are #192 on the list to get in, but EVERY parent wants the best for their child and regardless of where you’ve applied being told that you did not get in is disheartening. It made me reflect back to the scene in Waiting for Superman where the school systems make a big lottery party of accepting kids (which I personally think is just cruel).

paper children holding hands kindness stock

Although my son’s education does NOT revolve around his ability to get in to a specific school no parent wants their child turned down from the best school. It’s just human nature.

So now we’ve moved on to the next step. Waiting of course to see if we will receive the call to say that we have moved from 192nd place to 1st place. We also decided that if we did not get into to our magnet school the next step is to visit private schools, and then ultimately homeschooling.

You have to understand that we are not against any one type of schooling (public, private, or homeschooling) but for OUR situation with my son we have a LOT of things to factor in. We have his need to meet his growing giftedness – I cannot rightly put him in a classroom where a teacher will not take the extra time to work with him on harder material.

A child reading on a 2nd grade level does not need to learn his letters and numbers if he is far beyond that point. Not only will this hamper his learning but it will fester behavioral problems as he will quickly become bored. We have a very vital social situation to meet his needs.

If he is put in a room with severely autistic children, children with behavioral disorders, and children who are simply not disciplined it will reflect in his behavior. If you know anyone with Asperger’s you will understand this.

girl reading Dr Seuss book

Of course cost is an issue when putting him in a private school – I cannot possibly imagine how some of these schools are charging over $10,000 a year just for K-5! It totally blows my mind!

Seeing as that is more than half of what we take home those schools are certainly not an option.

For my son the biggest issue social skills. He NEEDS to be with other people, a LOT. He NEEDS to learn how to cope with larger groups of people and how to act properly even though he may not understand things.

If we homeschool him there is a huge necessity of finding proper extracurricular activities for him. Of course that is a huge time issue to factor in as well. As all-consuming as this story may seem, it reflects the situations of children all across America.

Maybe not in this exact type of situation, but all over America children are being shifted around to different schools. Parents feel like they have no choice in where their children go. They are at a loss of what to do if their child doesn’t get into “THAT” school. LISTEN PARENTS – IT IS YOUR CHOICE!

school bus stock

Your child may not get into that “better” school you were hoping for, but it IS your choice where your children go. I understand that there are extenuating circumstances and I know I will probably get hate mail over this but YOU are the parent and it is YOUR responsibility that your children are being educated.

Yes, you read that right. Although we send our children to school every day to learn if your child is not learning what they should be it is YOUR responsibility to find out why. Maybe your child isn’t paying attention in class, maybe the teacher truly isn’t teaching as they should – it happens. I’ve “been there done that”.

One year – even in a private school – I was in a class where our teacher did NOT teach….at all. I don’t know how he got away with it but my mom made the tough decision to pull me out of that class and find me a better one. YOU are the strongest advocate for your child.

school hallway stock

Make an extreme choice to find a better school for your child no matter what. If you don’t feel like you can do that find your child a better class. It is YOUR job to teach your children and find them the best place to learn.

Don’t rely on America’s education system (public OR private) to teach your children everything.

If Plan A doesn’t work like ours didn’t, make sure you have a Plan B in place BEFORE that happens. Don’t wait until you have no other choice and feel desperate or cornered.

Know what your options are and know what your backup plan is. Be your child’s advocate and do everything you can to make it work. Although we are disappointed that we haven’t been initially accepted into our “school of choice” it is NOT the end of the world and my child will STILL learn because I am standing behind him watching every step of the way.

Don’t put your child’s educational learning on auto-pilot and expect it to “just work”. If your child is having problems at school get in there and fix it! Don’t be afraid to make a change – if it doesn’t work find another way to do it.

Visit 20 schools if you have to in order to find the right one. Trust me – it IS worth it and you won’t regret being proactive about your child’s education.

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  1. Mellissa Hanks says:

    Stories like these make me grateful our district accepts all children from ages 4 and up.

  2. Rebecca W says:

    I know you may resist this suggestion but I have to make it. I think you might want to try homeschooling. There are so many support groups in Florida that get together on a regular basis and they are large groups. If you remember, I lived in the next county over from you and I definitely understand the whole falling through the cracks, non-English speakers thrown into classrooms, teachers not taken care of thing. Especially since both our husbands are teachers.

    Now, I homeschool for medical reasons. One son has asthma, the other a heart condition. I was very grateful to find the groups that I did. They were there for support and friendship. And, there were a lot of parents who had special needs kids. The other kids didn’t tease or make fun of the kids with special needs. They were much more understanding than their school counterparts. You want your son to have a positive experience with large groups.

    And since your son is so advanced, homeschooling will allow him to advance at his pace, rather than the schools. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. I use workbooks and build lessons off of those. There are a lot of companies that make PDF versions of study units that sell for a lot less than a bunch of books.

    I know you will make your own decision, I just wanted to show you that you can homeschool if you need or want to. Despite what people say about homeschoolers, the kids are more sociable and behave better than their school counterparts. Just something to think about.

    1. Thanks Rebecca! I am definitely not against homeschooling! I myself was homeschooled for 2 years and I totally support the benefits from it. I am torn because I know that academically that is the absolute best option for my son as I can provide him exactly what he needs but I am slightly reluctant as it does not necessarily meet his social needs. I do know that I can find a homeschool group to do meet ups but I really want to find something where I can drop him off and have no parents there. I wish there was a school where I could send him like 2-3 days a week without me and study him at home the other 2-3 days. I just have to scout around and see exactly what my area has to offer. It’s a tough decision for sure! Part of me wants to keep him home because I can provide him 100% hands-on materials instead of just worksheets and the other part of me knows that it is a HUGE time commitment to completely cover the academics AND social needs – I’m not sure how blogging would do with that and I feel I would need to send my little guy to preschool full time to have full focus. I am the type of person that is all in or all out LOL. I can’t do a juggling in between very well! 🙂

  3. It’s great that you have a plan, and a backup and a backup to your backup plan – I really hope everything works out for you guys!

  4. I hope it all works out splendidly for you guys and you end up with a happy little boy and mom. My guy is 3 and it is still so hard for me to think that school is not that far away. My oldest two are in public school and have done well so far , but I can’t imagine my little guy in the same situation. I don’t know what we will do when that time comes.

  5. Christine says:

    Good for your for being proactive and figuring out what is best for your family. Too many parents treat school like a catch-all (Send them in to their babysitter/shrink/parent/etc aka teacher) and think that they don’t have to do anything else for their child to succeed. Good luck!

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