For My Son
The following is a letter I sent to my Governor, Rick Scott, of Florida. Over the past few days, Governor Scott was on a suppossed 'listening tour for education' across Florida. Not only did Governor Scott not listen, he ignored all who were not pre-screened to speak and held closed door 'meetings' with the pre-selected speakers....
Dear Governor Scott,
I was excited to hear that you would be taking part in a “listening tour” acrossFlorida, listening to teachers, parents and students speak about their thoughts, experiences and ideas regarding the education system we have in place. I patiently waited for the dates and stops to be released. I wanted to speak to you as a mother who has a first hand, real world opinion on the state of education inFlorida, more specifically,Palm Beach County.
I was disturbed (that is not the word I want to use) to find out that the reality of your “listening tour” was closed doors, pre-selected speakers and a one sided perception of the education system, you as Governor, oversee. Since I was not offered or given a chance and/or opportunity to speak with you Governor Scott, I have decided to share with others what you have chosen to ignore.
I have five children enrolled in the Palm Beach County School System. The children are spread among three schools in northern part of the county-two in middle school, two in third grade and one in kindergarten. Four of the children are thriving in the school system. One is not. He, Governor Scott, is the child you refused to acknowledge, the second you decided to add a closed door policy to your “listening tour”. He, Governor Scott, is the child I will now speak to you about. You decided to ignore the reality. I, Governor Scott, am bringing it to your attention.
My son is a brilliantly smart, caring, third grade student who loves baseball and dreams of becoming a police officer. He, Governor Scott, has a learning disability. I cannot tell you the specific type of disability he has because the State ofFloridaand the Palm Beach County School System have still (after four years of my pleading, begging and letter writing) have not fully tested him. Governor Scott, my son is now in third grade. Since kindergarten I have been after our district to get him the testing he needs to help him succeed and thrive as a student in the State ofFlorida. Sir, my son cannot write a complete sentence. He cannot read a paragraph on his own. My son is in third grade. How, can you as Governor, explain to me why and how this has happened?
I have done EVERYTHING I can do as a mother to help my son. I have researched learning techniques to help him. I have sat for hours helping my son complete his homework. I have sat and read the education laws and rights thatFloridahas in place for each student attending a public school. Governor Scott, I have shed more tears and spent more nights awake, than you have in your entire life. My son deserves the same education as the gifted kid. He deserves the chance to thrive, excel and succeed in school. My son deserves to graduate high school with honors and go to college and become a police officer, a physicist or President of theUnited States. My son has a right to have the same opportunities as any other student in this state.
Yet he does not.
Last year, after almost losing hope, I wrote two heartfelt but sternly worded letters to our Superintendent, our School Board members, the news media. The letters covered my son’s struggles, the wall of regulation and paperwork that stood between him receiving help and the reality of what was occurring, which is nothing. The Superintendent and a few other members from the school district contacted me. Meetings were set up. I was promised that by the end of the nine weeks of this school year, the testing would finally be completed. We will see if that occurs. The problem I have Governor Scott is this: I have been fighting for my son for four years now. My son has lost four years of education. The fact that my son is now sitting in a third grade classroom, unable to read a paragraph, let alone a chapter book, unable to read questions on a test, unable to write a sentence, is something you as Governor should be ashamed of. My son has no self confidence. He is embarrassed by his disability. I think it is a disgrace, lack of care and a complete failure that our state has no accountability, recourse or tolerance toward those students, like my son, who do not fit into the mold of thriving or gifted. The fact that my son has fallen through the cracks ofFlorida’s education system is both sad and infuriating.
Governor Scott, you promised us, as citizens of the state that you govern, a listening tour. You, Governor Scott, did not listen. You chose, picked and edited the state of our education to what you saw needed to be seen and heard. You, Governor Scott, ignored the real issues, the real reality, the real truth, and I am appalled. I am angry. I am sad that you ignored my son, and all the other students in your state that are in the same situation as he is. You, Governor Scott need a reality check as to what the truth is. You, Governor Scott, need to open your eyes and ears and really listen to what we normal people are going through. You, Governor Scott, need to step up and govern this state.
My son deserves that much from you.
If, Governor Scott, you are as serious about education and our students as you portray yourself to be, than meet with me, a stay at home mother, who lives her life for her kids, who has something to say, who is willing to speak up and face you. I am no longer willing to sit back quietly, watching her son slip further into the cracks that you are willing to overlook.
I look forward to hearing from you.