Sessions not for everyone

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 25, 2009

In regard to the Oct. 9 article about the Vicksburg Warren School District intercession, Zeke has autism and is nonverbal, but uses signs to communicate. I wanted him to attend intercession to get extra help on skills, to limit the amount of unstructured time or simply to enjoy an enrichment program. No matter how hard I tried, he didn’t get to go and I want to know why.

“First-come, first-serve policy” the story said. Why didn’t Zeke get a chance to sign up? Were the letters just for the “normal functioning”?

When the buildings were open for some, why was he denied? I have informed the district that disabled children in Vicksburg don’t have anywhere to go after school, in the summer and during these breaks.

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The district stated, “the VWSD has designed a week … to assist students who did not master the benchmarks for the MCT2.” Zeke participates in an alternate assessment and is not required to take the MCT2. Are federal funds being used for programs that choose which children to serve based on what type of test the child takes, determined by cognitive abilities or disabilities? Why would a school board allow a superintendent to design a plan that focuses on those who take state tests whose scores just happen to reflect upon his success or failure while excluding special education children whose scores don’t count? Why do you think it is that, as the story said, “no other school districts in Mississippi are using a similar plan?”

At Zeke’s school, the alternate enrichment class was “knitting and sign language.” Wow! What a missed educational opportunity. For one week, Zeke would have been the child who had something to teach the others. He would have loved showing his peers the nearly 120 signs he knows. For a week, he and the others would have had an authentic learning experience so deep and complex that it couldn’t be assessed by the MCT2, the alternate assessment or any other standardized test.

Tammy Hosemann