Thanks for pointing out that looking into your child’s eyes and witnessing the tension and anguish was, in the end, what touched you the most. We will surely consider it since I want to find a child education center for my 5-year old daughter. She is too playful, and it is important for me to ensure that she would be given enough attention while I am away. Thanks for sharing this.
My Child’s Education and Readiness
As an active-duty officer, I care about my children’s education. My children’s education plays a significant role in my duty location and my continued service. Many active duty service members have this same issue. This article addresses the stress of being an active-duty officer when the education system fails your child and you are forced to take legal action against the school to ensure your child receives the education he or she deserves. It becomes a readiness issue.
It is not just PCS season when you feel the stress of your child’s education. When you see your child struggling and the school is not following the law, this is where the stress really begins to build within the family and on yourself.
My wife and I knew the school was not properly educating our child. When we confronted the school, they started to purposely misstate the law, and delay and deny special education services. We could not go to a meeting without first hearing the question, “When are you going to move?” We were tired of the lies and the delay tactics.
It is heartbreaking to know a school was using my military service to help delay services for my child.
We filed due process against the school district.
In abstract, you would think that presenting educators and administrators detailed graphs showing objectively that your child is actively falling through the cracks, and showing these same individuals the law and the medical diagnosis of your child would be enough to receive proper services. This is not enough: and that causes even more stress.
My wife and I previously meet in person with the school officials and later over Zoom meetings. The stress that builds before, during, and after these meetings is unfathomable. When you realize that these educators and administrators do not want to help or assist your child, it is agonizing. It can consume you. Work becomes harder to focus, you’re not sleeping, as now you need to be ready for a figurative war with the school.
The Stress of Fighting Schools Impacts Readiness
Throughout due process, that stress builds. The stress builds between you and your spouse. This process also will put stress on your child, if he/she is old enough to understand what is going on. The level of anxiety within the family was terrible. In our case, frustrations with the school grew, as did the stress on my wife and I. We saw the stress materialize in our child as well.
For me, the stress was worse. We were in this situation because of my job. My job is the one that moves my family every couple of years. My job is why we have this education problem. The school district was more than willing to pass the learning issues my child was having on to another school district. This school district didn’t feel responsible for my child, banking on the next school to do what this one was not willing to do.
That stress affects my performance in the workplace, it affects my concentration at work. I was TDY, spending any downtime I had working on the graphs, charts and research. My readiness to do my job was severely impacted by my child’s (lack of) education. Furthermore, as a leader in the Army, it made me think of how many other children were in schools like this one, purposefully not following the law and waiting for the child to PCS.
In the end, what affected me the most, was looking into my child’s eyes and seeing the stress and hurt. My child trusted and looked up to her teachers and administrators. These same people who told her she needed help, were the same ones who went into the IEP meetings and said she was fine. To watch my child’s heart break with the realization that these trusted educators were neither trusted nor interested in educating her is a sight that no parent should see.
The Stress Impacts Our Children
I never expected that educators would tell my child in class that she needed help, and in IEP meetings say the opposite. This caused my child to cry. The innocence of a child who trusts adults was shattered. I felt responsible for this. If this school district had not been waiting for us to move, they would not have treated my child this way. I saw the frustration of a child denied the most basic of human rights, a right to a proper education. That impact the process had on my child is what motivated us to start and end the due process.
The education of my child is a readiness issue. My first thought upon a PCS move location or where to live deals with my child’s education. It is not just my readiness at issue. The entire Army’s readiness is impacted by the lack of education. There are locations where I will not serve or locations that will cause me to live an hour or more drive away from an installation.
I sacrifice for my country, and I will sacrifice for my family.
About the Author
Our author has requested to write this post anonymously, as he did not want his statements to be used against him or his child.
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