For Brandon: How One Family’s Struggle Can Help Us Imagine an Education System That Does Better by Exceptional Children

Travis Pillow, via a kind Deb Britt email:

Twenty-five years ago CRPE was founded on the idea of the school as the locus of change. Today we are reexamining our old assumptions in light of new technical possibilities, changes in the economy, and a recognition that even the most effective schools may need to develop new approaches to better serve students whose needs warrant more individualized learning pathways or supports. This post is part of a series on what the school or learning system of the next 25 years might look like.

Beginning in third grade, Brandon Berman got kicked out of school or pulled out by his mother almost every year. Autism, a rare form of muscular dystrophy, and a range of other complications that triggered seizures and required him to eat through a feeding tube made him a difficult fit for the public school system in Volusia County, Florida.

Ironically, each time another frustrated team of educators said their best efforts didn’t seem to be working, and his mother threw up her hands and pulled him out of school, he started making actual progress. Donna Berman took time away from her job as a nurse to teach him at home, full-time. The school district’s hospital/homebound program provided four hours of instruction per week with a certified teacher. With one-on-one attention, Donna started seeing signs of real progress. Brandon started learning to read. His instructor set up a mock grocery store in the family’s pantry where Brandon learned to compute change, making some headway in math.