Years ago, I put a curse on myself. One of my friends, who happens to be famous for drama, announced that she had entered a point in her life where there was no more drama. I literally laughed in her face and told her, “There is never no drama only different drama.” At that moment, the universe perked its ears up and laughed. Then the universe proceeded to show me just how right my proclamation was in the worst kind of way – I became a mother. And, I learned every time I thought I had something, anything, figured out when it came to raising my kids – everything changed. This phenomenon occurred with the mundane like favorite socks to big things like potty training. This phenomenon still occurs but on a larger scale with high stakes issues like preteen girl interpersonal relationships and high school Algebra. This high stakes drama has given me grey hair and wrinkles and I have no doubt in my mind it will give me an ulcer before these children are out of school. Right now I’m up to my eyeballs in school drama which centers around the question of how much accountability and accommodation is too much.
In the last 20 years, there has been a huge push in the public school system for accountability and accommodation. Accountability on the district and individual school to prove they are providing all children with a solid education. Accommodations so that all may learn from the most gifted to most challenged. When you say those sentences out loud it makes so much sense. It seems like a given – like the sun rising and setting. Yet, nothing about accountability and accommodation is easy.
Both of my children have one or more learning differences and social issues that were rarely addressed back in the day – ADHD, anxiety, and dyslexia to be specific. The schools we’ve attended were always aware of the situation. Accommodation plans were put into place and almost everyone has been on board at least at the lip service level to implementing said accommodation plans. Yet, as time has gone on and I have become more involved in my children’s classrooms and in the field of early childhood development, I’ve noticed something. More and more children have accommodation plans. Many times there are children in the classroom whose plan is the complete opposite of many others in the classroom. So riddle me this, how is a teacher with 20 kids, 10 of which have accommodation plans and half of those contradictory, supposed to teach a class all the things all the children are supposed to learn for the year to reach accountability goals? At what juncture do we all throw up our hands and say we are teaching it one way and one way only and those of you (my kids included) that can’t hang have to do something else? I can guarantee the super-advanced kids are not getting the stimulation they need to really shine. I can also guarantee the children who are really struggling are not getting the information doled out in a slow enough manner for those children to process. I’m convinced this is why homeschooling is on the rise.
Cycling back to the accountability issue is the push for everyone to be college ready. Many districts are requiring students to have completed the basic courses for entering college. What if a child doesn’t want to or doesn’t have the aptitude to go to a traditional four year college? Can that child take a modified list of classes geared toward trade school or two year college? Typically, the answer is no.
Having said all that, I can safely say both me and one of my children are drowning. While I want my child to have the accommodations necessary to succeed I also worry about the future. The real world does not care about accommodations. The real world fires you from a job when you can’t hack it. It doesn’t matter if the reason you can’t hack it is you process information differently than most people. Which leaves me asking how many accommodations can be made and what should be made? Are those accommodations enough for my child to meet the accountability standards (i.e. to pass the class and the standardized tests)? And, do these accommodations set up my child up for failure when the real world says no accommodations? It’s questions like these that make homeschooling look more and more attractive every year.