The Public School Story
My story begins with a very eager student and a school system that was looking hard to place a label on him. I'm not sure if this is just my experience, but I found that being a single parent automatically raised the eyebrows of administrators in my son's two public schools. Perhaps it was because it was small town America; perhaps it was because I've been going it completely alone on the parenting path from the beginning. Whatever it was, my son became a target.
Before the schools realized I was parenting solo, I got compliments, "He's sits so still;" "He listens well;" "He seems attentive." Shortly after parent teacher conferences when I had to explain, "No, the other person contributing to the DNA of my child will not be in attendance," things began to change for us.
The "attentive" child suddenly had something wrong with him - I was told this was because he was "high risk" because, after all, I was a single parent. When I pointed out that I was also a graduate student, with a graduate student assistantship who rarely went out and worked two jobs while attending school full-time as an undergraduate, this didn't faze them.
They began testing for learning disabilities. Never mind that my child was pulled out of class because he disagreed with a teacher's political views in one instance, argued that religion wasn't supposed to be in public school, and was able to do math at a higher level than other kids. They were convinced there was something wrong.
When we switched schools for second grade I thought, "Things are getting better" after the IEP meeting where I was told "I don't understand this diagnosis. There's nothing wrong with your child." However, my son would come home and tell me of more reasons he was pulled from class. When I asked the teachers why they were continuing this even though they'd determined he did not have a learning disability, they told me that it was because he seemed to do better when pulled from class.