Thursday, January 17, 2008
As I often do, I received an email from a parent today who spoke about how his daughter with a learning disability had been in Christian schools, unidentified but supported, throughout elementary school with pretty good success. However, as she entered Junior High, also at the Christian school, she began to have difficulty keeping up. She had to stop involvement in extracurricular activities as homework would consume her after school hours. The man contacted the school and asked for help for his daughter. He wondered whether she could perhaps be given a little more time on assignments or tests and quizzes, or whether perhaps less homework could be assigned. He indicated that the school replied in the following manner...
"One teacher, the supervisor for 3 others, stated that the school does not have a certificate of completion program there and so will not be able to accommodate or reduce what is required of her. I don't even know what that means."
He was not asking about a "certificate of completion" only extra help so his daughter could complete the work. No wonder he didn't know what they were talking about. But I am dismayed by the response and the lack of desire to help this parent and his daughter. In the public schools, a 504 plan might be the solution, however, because the school is private, many of the same regulations do not apply. Literally, after years of participation in the Christian school, this family can be dismissed with a wave of a hand when a child begins to fall behind academically. Elsewhere in the email it was implied by teachers that the child was not struggling academically (the implication being that the parent was not seeing the child struggle with homework every night) or that she just needed to work harder (denying the fact that the girl did indeed have a mild disability).
It would bother me much less if this were just some secular private school with who knows what set of standards they are reflecting. But this is a school that has identified itself with the Lord, Jesus Christ. As His agent, there is a different level of responsibility for service. This parent is being told that Christians do not understand, do not have compassion, do not want to help and are unwilling to change to assist a young girl with a mild disability. I wish this were not typical. I pray that God will not allow this to happen in the future. These who set themselves apart from the secular world of education and call themselves Christian are acting in a far from Christian manner. In reality, in the sphere of education, the secular world is acting much more Christian than probably 95% of the Christian schools in the United States are. But the saddest part is that they read a posting like this...
...and they don't care.