Curious Social Development

My daughter is the “Mothering Type”. You know the kind. She still loves dolls beyond her friends, and loves pets, and she took the babysitting class as soon as possible so she could be around small children. She is always the person in the class the helps and socializes with the high needs kids in her classroom too. One day while I was volunteering at her school, a very nice mom of a high need autistic child was in her class, to discuss what she needed the students in this class to know. She discussed her child’s sensitivity to sound, high stimulation, and the need for calmness. During this discussion the students in the class discovered that this student had a sibling. A student inquired about this sibling and who’s class (teacher) he/she was in….

The mother responded that her other child went to a private school in town because she wanted that child to have the best education possible. I sat there stunned for a moment. This mother has the right to send her child wherever she believes they fit best. She has the right and the honor to elect where to send her child for an education but I was stunned. There sat my daughter rubbing this child’s back to calm them down from the stress of the conversation, and I am thinking “Is my child a part of a social experiment? Did I send her to this public school to socialize poor behaving children and high needs children and see what happens?” Remember when parents of high need students fought hard to intergrate their children into normal classrooms? Remember when parents were mad they had to pay to send their special need students to private schools? Are we reversing this trend in the opposite direction?
I know several parents with dual children in the district. One functioning at a high level and one with special needs. This was my first thought of the public school being a place to put your special needs child and not your high functioning child. What an interesting development. Obviously this Mom loves her children and wants the best for both of them, but I somehow came away from that interaction with a new outlook. Public education is now the place to put your special education child and then you pay to put you high functioning child somewhere else. Didn’t we just reverse this trend in the 80’s so that special needs would be intergrated? If all parents felt this way we would have a real problem. One day the public school may be nothing but high need students. I find this a curious development.
My husband is a psychiatrist, with two very psychotic sisters. We are very knowledgeable in the world of mental health. The mental health institutes were abolished and legislation passed to develop local mental health clinics to care for these patients so they would no longer live in those unhealthy mental health institutes. The problem is no federal funds followed and the local mental health clinics were never developed. Now you can find homeless and imprisoned mentally ill across the nation. I find a similar situation with the high need students. A federal mandate to intergrate high need students followed by a substandard of funding. It is as though we are repeating ourselves with societies highest need citizens. I suppose I felt a sense of “well it is O. K. to send my high needs child to public schools but if I want my high functioning child to make it in the world I need to send them to a private school”. Or maybe I felt a twing of “yuck, public school is for the needy but not for the smart.” I don’t know and I know I am being unfair to this mom but it made be think about how I sometimes think my children are a part of a social experiment…..and I am unsure if the experiment is for the better or worse for my children. Either way it is an unusual and noteworthy development.