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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

High Expectations Letter by CFT

Dear Teacher,

I'm glad you emailed me. Here are my thoughts. I believe students should be challenged to meet high expectations, especially when they are requesting it and especially when they are from historically oppressed groups. The nature of historical oppression means that it is really, really hard to prove you are not what everyone thinks you are. My son has made so many gains in the last two years that he is no longer eligible for special education services with a processing disability affecting executive functioning. His re-evaluation meeting was two weeks ago. However, he will still register for the two academic intervention classes and for two of the organizational classes through the general education program at the high school, giving up all but one elective (chorus). He is very talented and creative, so this is a huge trade off (to not be able to take electives).

I have no reason to believe he will not continue to grow and improve as he matures and his brain continues to develop, particularly in the executive functioning areas. I do not trust the middle school recommendations. They practically let him fail and wanted to have him repeat 6th grade, never offering an intervention until I referred him for an evaluation. I also have no reason to believe that their judgment as to his placement is accurate. One of my children was placed too low in high school, spent the first month moving up in every level that was possible, and being tracked for the remainder of high school into lower levels for the classes she could not change. The other was placed in lower level classes with kids who were unmotivated, not at all my child's issues. The interest he had in doing "that little bit more" has waned, and now as a junior, it is too late to move up in levels, as he is just as unmotivated as his peers!

I respectfully expect my son to be placed in the level 4 English class. Your proposal is unacceptable. He wants to be in level 4, he recognizes that there will be an adjustment and that he will be responsible for taking on work which will not be easy. Even knowing that, he still wants to prove that he can do it. He believes in himself, I believe in him, and what he needs is for his teachers to believe in him as well. This decision is not risk free and there is the possibility that it won't be successful. In that case my son can be moved to level 3. There is always the option to move down but if he doesn't take the chance to start at the level he believes he is capable of, he will never be able to prove that he can do it.