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The kids were playing in the living room when the phone rang in the kitchen. I picked it up and held it tight to my ear, with my hand over the other ear to block out the chaos.

“Ann, the school board is trying to cut costs by cutting Ms. Smith’s job to half time,” said Barb, Will’s teacher for the preprimary impaired classroom in our district. “We need you to speak to the board about keeping Kindergarten staffing at the current level, so our kindergarten classes can remain small. If they reduce her job, the remaining classes will swell to 25 or more.”

So that evening, I told Ralph that I needed to go to the school board meeting. I had never been to a school board meeting. At that time in my life, I hated standing before a group of people to speak. The meeting was crowded, but I signed up on the list to speak before the board.

“My son has special needs, but he is going to placed in regular kindergarten this year in the name of inclusion. Let me tell you about my son. He cries and screams a lot, he enjoys turning the boxes of toys out onto the floor one by one all around the school room. He creates chaos where ever he goes. Can you imagine him in a classroom with 25 plus other kindergartners? If he is in such a large classroom, he may need to transfer to another school for a special needs kindergarten.” I looked directly at the school board member whose son would be in the same class as mine, “Do you want your child to be in a kindergarten classroom with my child?”

Then I sat down. I felt sort of bad because I had said true things about my son, making him look bad. But I put aside my personal feelings in order to convince the school to keep Ms. Smith on as a full time teacher. She retained her job. I did notice that the school board member’s son was in the morning kindergarten class and Will was in the afternoon class. Nevertheless, Ms. Smith was an excellent teacher for him, and he thrived in that classroom. Other students in our district also benefited from our interference.

After this I interfered in other public matters.  I went on to attend and speak at public comment sessions when the state tried to cut funding for special education. I also served on special education advisory committees in our district and in the county.

Great things can be done when Moms (and Dads) rise up and interfere.

public hearing

Happy Mother’s Day, all.

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