Jay (brian1789) wrote,
Jay
brian1789

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A quiet triumph for my son David

Last Friday, June 1, I watched my son David graduate from Los Altos HS... with his entering class, with a regular-ed diploma. From the 404th ranked high school in the United States, or 75th in California (according to US News and World Report).

His grades were nominally unimpressive, in the middle of the pack below the median. He did not take honors or AP courses. He will be going to a community college next fall, in contrast to his classmates headed for Ivies or UC's.

But... I am very proud of his achievement, and believe he deserves as much credit as the dozen kids with 4.0's. It is not easy to be perfect, admittedly, but these kids started out four years ago at the top of their peers coming from middle school, and simply maintained their relative advantage over their peers for four years. David, on the other hand, has a diagnosis of being high-functioning autistic, and was warehoused in middle school in an overcrowded special education classroom that tried to cover all of grades 6-8 with some severely physically-challenged students.... and with one teacher. David entered LAHS with essentially 5th grade knowledge and skills.

He was far, far behind his mainstream peers. His special-ed counterparts mostly remained in special ed. We pushed to have him placed in mainstream classes, because he was learning little in special ed and he had the intelligence and insight to achieve academically, if we could just persuade the school administration and district to work with him, and us.

I had to be annoying and nagging and a nuisance at times, to the school. And pressure them to try. But they did... and David responded, going from half-time mainstreaming in his freshman year to completely mainstreamed for his last two years. Initially, he took some remedial-level and non-college-track classes, and got some C's and D's in others. But he did not flunk back into special ed, he kept improving, kept going, and his grades eventually rose as he caught up in academic background and prerequisites. His social skills developed. He made mainstream friends. He got a prom date. He pulled himself firmly into the middle of his class.

Which, coming from as far behind as he was four years ago... is a huge achievement.
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