Parents will do whatever it takes for their children. The Washington Post’s Jay Matthews illustrates this point in a column describing the ordeal faced by Stacie Jones, a mother of twin third-grade boys. Her children, both diagnosed with learning disabilities, had been struggling with reading and basic math functions. Despite Jones’ concerns and objections, the school district was determined to promote her children to the fourth grade, where they would surely struggle and fall further behind.
Stacie Jones knew this was unacceptable, and began a personal mission to find the best option for her boys. She learned of a private school outside her district’s geographic boundaries that specialized in teaching children with learning disabilities and became determined to get her sons into that school. Her district had strict rules regulating options for students with disabilities, and if she were to be successful, she’d have to learn them.
It was her only chance because she had no money for a lawyer. It wasn’t easy. She was up some nights until 3 a.m., “trying to learn what my rights were, what services the boys were entitled to and what their assessments really meant,” she told me.
“I pieced the process together by myself,” she said, “requesting the boys’ school records, writing letters to the school officials, responding to their ‘prior written notice’ letters that essentially said the boys were appropriately placed, didn’t need more intensive services, and were fine to go to the fourth grade.”
The district eventually did pay for this year’s tuition for her children at the special-needs school—next year’s tuition is up in the air. But most importantly, her sons are having encouraging results at their new school.
When people dismiss school choice, claiming parents—especially those of limited means—aren’t interested in or able to make the best decision, remember Stacie Jones.
Read the rest of Jay Matthews’ column.
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