by Ashley Roberts
As a parent what I am tired of is the rhetoric that to challenge education is to be disrespectful of education and of every teacher that exists both past and present. To ask questions, to express discontent, even if those questions and discontent are asked in the most respectful tone with the most respectful words, is to be treated as a pariah. The concept of the “Reading Wars” with parents made out to be rabid dogs, foaming at the mouth, just further perpetuates the idea that parents are to blame, are not worthy of being a part of the conversation, are not allowed to have a seat at the table, cannot be educated enough to participate in the conversation, cannot be civil enough to have a civilized conversation, cannot be a decent enough human being to deserve respect.
I do not set out to “bash” teachers. I do not call out teachers. What I call out is the cognitive dissonance that refuses to see the science sitting right in front of them that’s been shown time and time again, in meeting after meeting, conference after conference, yet is continually denied. What I call out is how districts spend millions of the tax dollars they collect from the very parents they do not value on curriculums that harm children and foster illiteracy. What I call out is how that continual cognitive dissonance and determination to purchase harmful curriculums flies in the face of ever even wanting to have a civilized conversation with those who would ask questions, who would seek justifications seated in logic, who would simply try to engage at an intellectual level and discuss the why’s and why not’s.
I am overwhelmed at the idea that after years of trying to do this very thing and being met with spiteful and hate filled emails, with not having phone calls returned, with having meetings cancelled at the last minute, with my child only reading above grade level because of private intervention paid for by me, but not having his written expression be anywhere remotely close to grade level, and then being denied the proper assistance under the excuse of “the district doesn’t have any programs for that therefore we will not be serving his needs at all” despite the legal requirement under IDEA is mind blowing.
Yet, I am the one who is being disrespectful and should keep my mouth shut and stop “bashing teachers.” I have sat in well over 100 hours of my own child’s IEP meetings over the past five years alone – yes, 100+ hours in 5 years, and the intention was to constantly tell me my place in the equation and that was to shut up and sign an IEP that would never close the gap because it had nothing but laughable goals.
Yet, I am the one who needs to approach education with loving words and loving arms to seek alignment and change, otherwise I am hostile, angry, rabid, teacher bashing, and out of line.
Yet, I am the one who needs to understand because I do not have an education degree I am not worthy enough to participate in the discussion.
I have never been met with open and loving arms, even when I didn’t know a single thing about dyslexia, literacy, or the Reading Wars. I have never been met with a single conversation that did not seek to remind me that my place was one of submission, where I was to only listen, not question, and then go punish my child accordingly. The attitude from day 1 of walking into any school was that I needed to consider myself lucky to be inside the hallowed and sacred halls, deliver my food, thank them for their service, kiss my child good-bye, then drive away. I was to hand over my malleable, sensitive, dyslexic child to a place where I was not allowed to ask HOW they were going to teach him, and when they failed to teach him, listen to how it was my fault, his fault, and how I should be a better parent.
But because I am a parent, I’m the one spewing rhetoric, being divisive, teacher bashing, acting rabid, being inappropriate.
Riddle me this, if that is the perception I will always exist in, then how am I, the parent, supposed to cross the chasm to educators in order to instill change? If that is the perception in which I exist then how can I ever be a part of the conversation?
The fact is under this perception I cannot be a part of the change, and that’s the very issue. The perception has been crafted in order to ensure parent exclusion. This is by design, and to expose this, to talk about this, is simply to solidify the perception that I am rabid.
And know this, I have never once said a single curse word, I have never slammed my hands on the table, I have never raised my voice above a conversational level or tone, yet I have been SCREAMED at, threatened, intimidated, lied to, bullied, had hands slammed against tables more times that I can count, had arms thrown up in the arm and SCREAMED at that I was being unreasonable all because I asked how the school intended to close my child’s reading gap.
But, I’m the one spewing rhetoric and denigrating education. I’m the one with the problem.
Hello. My name is Ashley, and I am a sinner. My sin is I am a parent, and I dare to question education. My sin is I dare to seek change.
My child’s sin is he isn’t in the 34% of children who will learn to read without any instruction, and that's his fault.
Both my son and I are damned for our shortcomings, our failings, because he had the audacity to be born dyslexic and as a result I dared to challenge reading instruction in our schools. We are worthless people who should die and burn in hell.
Yet, to not be damned, to not be rabid means I'm supposed to be grateful for whatever "literacy" he does obtain and he should be grateful that without my pocket books all he would be capable of is a life lived with illiteracy, because to be illiterate is our choice and our collective fault, not education's.
Let me illuminate you on how stupid I am. I have a BA in English and an MBA specializing in Management. I have worked for some of the largest corporations in the world brokering financial agreements, negotiations, and contracts worth significant amounts of money with jobs, livelihoods and lives on the line.
But, sure, I’m stupid. I’m not capable of doing the research, of understanding the material, of reading the books, of understanding the lectures, of asking logical questions and understanding the answers.
No, I’m just a rabid parent spewing rhetoric.