“I’m not special ed, and I’m not going to that stupid classroom anymore. I’m going to be in the regular classroom just like any one else,” screamed my brand spanking new student. I was taken back both by her confidence and her small size. I was even more surprised because this was open house. I’d only known the child for ten seconds.
Her mother told me she had an IEP-an individual learning plan for children with disabilities. I told her I’d read it in a week or two. I prefer to get a solid impression of a child first hand before delving into the specialist and doctor’s prognosis and opinions.
The child was attentive and a quick thinker. She was pleasant and got along well with the kids. She was a delight to have in class. When her IEP finally rolled across my desk I quickly skimmed it.
The picture it painted was so off base, I had to ask the administration if it was the wrong child.
Her academic goal was to read words like “bed” and “lake.” Two days prior we had read words like “President,” “moment” and “reservoir.” The IEP was not even a year old.
I thought I was hallucinating. How is could this be possible?
I have a document in one hand that’s painting a dismal picture of her intellectual and social capabilities and a child in front of me who could read the preamble of the Constitution.
Even more disturbing was how she was so mislabeled. A label she and her family had all taken on. A label that surmised how much she was able to learn and perform in the world. A prognosis some people would even carry into their adulthood.
A label, as she proudly announced that first day, she would no longer be carrying.