My brother's favorite movie growing up was "The Flight of the Dragons." Good god I had not thought about that movie in years, and just now, as I IMDB'd it to give you a proper description, it gave me all sorts of nostalgia. Holy shit.
But, we're not really here to talk about that movie, so I'll revisit my childhood another day. You know who loves dragons though? AB. She looooooooves them. Sometimes it's because they're scary, but most of the time I like to think it's because she senses their resilience to the status quo and their unique abilities that — while unrecognized by some — are deeply valued by others. After all, dragons are many things, are they not? Amazing flyers. Fire breathers. Scaly. Horny. Soft. Fierce. Independent. Badass fucking dragons that are totally #teamdaenerys. Alright, I don't know a real dragon, I'm just pulling from movies, but you get my drift.
Tonight's school board meeting had a big task in front of them: the informational discussion on the fate of the CVHS Dragons to be vote on at the next meeting, if I'm not mistaken: Feb. 21 (I had to leave early so I may need to fact check that date/vote.) I mean first we endured the love fest between Dunn and Phelps and then between Dunn and Dr. Connolly, but you can read my Facebook page for that.
This is a topic I've been torn about. I came into it "late" so to speak. I don't have a child currently near the age of being affected and the stakes of the situation don't directly affect me/her perhaps. I had friends who were losing their shit over the potential of Horizon Hills being allocated for CHVS, but that's about all I heard. Something has really resonated with me about this dilemma the district is in — this conversation about alternative educational learning environments and their value.
Let me tell you a little bit about AB. She's a gal that marches to the beat of her own drum, and timeline. She didn't sit up on her own until well past six months. She didn't crawl until she was 13 months. And she didn't start walking until she was 17 months. She's always been a little bit "slower" to catch on. Hold on, hold on, hold on. I'm going to stop you from saying what you were about to say. Your instinct just now was going to be to reassure me, and tell me that every baby is different, and that's ok.
I already know that. I'm not asking for reassurance. I don't view factually stating AB's development as a cause for anyone to tell me "it's going to be ok." I never thought it wasn't going to be, BUT, inevitably, this is almost ALWAYS the response because she doesn't hit the "average" milestones at the "average times." Again, these aren't set in stone, so it's not a big deal. Other people seem to get very defensive for me, or on behalf of AB, when I acknowledge that she's marching to her own pace. I don't see this as a negative, but based on the collective response of people to reassure me about something I wasn't worried about to begin with... I recognize how society views what is "normal."
Which brings to me to the topic of alternative education environments. Now, if you're like me, when your babe was a bebe, you read hundreds of blog and articles in the wee hours of the night while you were feeding them, about baby temperament. Some books tell you there are four types of personalities, identifying the "spirited" child, and the "sensitive"child and so on, to better help you communicate with these little unruly animals. Many books have come up with a multitude of different ways to handle every scenario possible when it comes to managing a baby. There are the multiple schedule suggestions and how to alter them; multiple feeding suggestions — how much, when, and, when to cave in the middle of the night for an extra feeding; a multitude of ways on how to teach your child to share, or at the very least, not hit another kid in the face.
If there's anything I've learned in my nearly three years of parenting, it's that there's not one bonafide way of parenting that is a one-size-fits-all for children. What works for AB might not work for your child. We put AB in the eskimo snow jacket suit: the merlin and IT WAS MAGIC. But, I'm not kidding, she looked like a fucking astronaut. It was our savior for six months. Our friend tried it and I'm sure her baby's first words to her were: "fuck this noise." My point being, we know parenting strategy isn't a one-size-fits-all, so why do we expect education to be?
There is no shame, nor should their be stigma associated with kids who need a different learning environment. I recall my elementary days even. I had trouble at the elementary school I was in. I just didn't fit. My grades were dropping and my parents recognized the environment didn't suit me. I transferred to a different elementary school for my 5th and 6th grade education, where I was voted class president, voted to receive the A-OK award, and selected to receive the rotary citizenship award — all because I had the privilege to have my needs addressed in a different environment that fostered my growth, social interaction, and educational environment.
So when I hear about the CVHS students, all 137 of them, and how they're sometimes vilified by those too ignorant to consider that it's completely normal for different students to have different needs that don't fit into one generic box of dimensions, it strikes me that larger, more in-depth conversations need to be be had about the learning environments we're providing, and the importance we place on cultivating and maintaining these to benefit ALL of the students in the community. I'm not going to pretend to know the politics or the money trails behind the decisions that have put us in the position we currently are in regarding the potential transfer of these students to the TOHS campus, but I can't help but question if we've really explored and listened and determined what is in the best interest for these students AND the students of TOHS. I won't pretend to know the answer as someone new to the conversations, but I'll leave you with the phrase that many implored the board to consider tonight: