Last Friday was my oldest daughter’s last day of Kindergarden. It was also her last day attending a small Christian school that she has spent the last three years attending. ( she did Pre-K twice because she has a very late birthday.) We loved her school, and planned on her going there all the way through eighth grade. I thought she’d be fine without a low vision program. Sure there would be some accommodations that she’d need, but I thought her dad and i could fill in the gaps. After all, we were both blind students, and my husband has a vocational rehab degree.
When she started school at age 4 she was “dually enrolled” in both private, and public school. That meant she would attend Strickland Christian school, and would have a low vision teacher from AISD working with her. However, at five she could no longer receive services from AISD, because the dual enrollment program is only for 3 and 4 year olds.Since she seemed to be doing OK, we thought things would work out at Strickland. Kindergarden was a little rough in the beginning. There was more being taught on the chalk board, and there were lots of small print wall charts to follow. By the end of the year she was rocking it out, but we could tell it was taking her longer to understand the content that was visually presented. She would probably fall behind in first grade if things stayed the same. especially given the fast pace of a private prep school.
I remembered when she turned five an AISD employee told me there was a program that provided some special education services to private and homeschool kids call Proportionate Share. I called the woman in charge of that program, but never received the application she was supposed to mail me. I requested it three times directly from the woman in charge. She told me over the phone that AISD could provide a low vision teacher for my daughter, BUT THAT TEACHER COULDN’T MEET WITH MY DAUGHTER AT HER PRIVATE SCHOOL OR DURING SCHOOL HOURS. What good would that be?!?!?! Soooo I just decided it is more trouble than it was worth as they wouldn’t really be helping my child, and I let it go.
However, I decided to try the program again once I realized she needed a low vision teacher. I found out that the original person I spoke to was retired, and someone more competent was running the program. For half a second I felt encouraged that I might be able to keep my daughter in Strickland. Then I received a letter in the mail stating that all the funds for this program had been expended for the year, and I would be put on a waiting list for next year. What?!?! If I had moved into the district the school wouldn’t be able to say ” sorry, we’re out of money this year. Your kid is SOL” They would have to get it together, and find her a low vision teacher. I pay my school taxes just like everyone else. I am not expecting them to pay for low vision aids, glasses, or anything. I just need a low vision teacher once a month to evaluate the classroom, and make recommendations. Ugggh !!!
Like i said, I pay my taxes, so the State & Feds should be able to trickle that money down to AISD as needed. After all, they do provide the extra money for supports for public school kids. I looked online, and the government funds the Proportionate Share program through an impossible to understand equation that provides far less money than is needed. Why can’t they provide these support services to everyone if they HAVE TO for the 3 and 4 year olds? This is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt for the TEA to appear to be serving all special needs children without coughing up the real dollar amount to do so. This policy has essentially taken away my choice as a parent to provide a Christian education for my children.
All of this left me with two choices. I could stay at Strickland, fight it out with the government, and hope I can get a VI teacher. All the while my child falls further and further behind. Or, I could send my kid to public school. While I am not one to back down from a fight, and you better believe there will be a letter sent to several people, I can’t let my kid fall behind. I am loath to send her to public school, but I have faith that God will work it all out.