My public school education straddled the year of 1972 when Congress passed PL 194-42, mandating the public education of the handicapped. As a visually impaired person who experienced education before and after school teachers were told everyone deserves education no matter what their physical or mental capabilities, I’ve often remarked that you can’t legislate attitude.Now, as a visually impaired parent of a visually impaired child and as one who has sat through the insufferable minutia of IEP’s, I’ve appreciated the times schools went beyond doing what the law said we deserved and gave us what we needed.
Grace Is Alive In the Public School System
The small elementary school in rural southern Kansas was like that. Knowing I couldn’t drive, the school offered to have the special needs bus swing by our home on cold mornings. I have difficulty seeing print on darker colored paper, so the school secretary took the extra step of printing school announcements on white paper for me.
The ultimate act of goodness came the day the principal heard that my daughter tripped and fell on the two uneven steps leading out of the school because she couldn’t see them. He arranged for the maintennce crew to paint a yellow stripe on the edge of the two steps. It was a simple gesture, one that didn’t cost the school much money or time, but they weren’t required to do it and they did get flack from some parents who didn’t like the looks of the yellow stripes. In the mind of the principal however, Christine needed it and that was what mattered more than anything else.
It’s ironic that the school that year had a “Caught Being Good” character development program. Every time a child did a kind, repsonsible or honest act, the school tacked a small PrintShop certificate to the hallway wall, recognizing that the child had been ‘caught being good.” Our family printed out a similar certificate to give to Mr. Stewart. In our estimation, he modeled to the staff and student body what “caught being good” was all about.
God is not dead in the public schools. He still works through the goodness and kindness of folks who care about meeting needs of children and parents alike.