Mrs. Trump said quite a lot during her speech during this year’s Republican National Convention. You’d have to live under a rock to have missed the comparison between her words and the FLOTUS’ 2008 Democratic National Convention speech…because it’s been literally everywhere since the live streaming Monday night. Outside of the circus that I believe the RNC was this year, and my own personal thoughts and opinions on politics in general…I really only focused in on one statement she made during her time on stage.
We must do our best to ensure that every child can live in comfort and security, with the best possible education.
The best possible education resounded in my mind for the rest of that night, and (clearly) is still with me. Words are so important, and how we use them is even more important. I remember back in 2012 when I peeked behind the primary education curtain, trying to determine if it was where my puzzle piece fit. I began to learn terms like learning disability, accommodations, psychological education, emotionally disturbed, and FAPE. FAPE. I remember vividly, scribbling this down IDEA 2004 and IRA 1973 during my first IEP meeting for a 6th grader. I later googled, what the heck is FAPE ? The U.S Department of Ed and the Office for Civil Rights enforce (I really dislike the word enforce) creates and monitors a standard for public schools who receive federal funds pertaining to what is support expectations for students with disabilities.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, specifically sec. 504 and Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act 2004, specifically sec. 300.101, were written to protect the rights of students with disabilities as they engage in activities that use federal dollars as a funding source – like go to a public school or university. One of the ways these acts intend to draw a standard is through an acronym – FAPE. FAPE stands for Free Appropriate Public Education and it is something that every student (every student with a disability under these specific acts) is entitled to. Appropriate. I remember my eyes being stuck on that word – what does that even mean? Appropriate? Who determines what is appropriate? How is that measured? As the child of intelligent parents – one of whom is an attorney – I have to question, appropriate? Why did we use this word?
I bring this out, because when Melania said “the best possible education” it shocked me, I didn’t expect those words “the best. YES! Every student deserves THE BEST possible education, THE BEST support services, THE BEST opportunities to advance academically. THE BEST is not a synonym of appropriate. Appropriate is sub-par – appropriate means what is suitable in the circumstance – so given these conditions, we did the best we could. It leaves room for exception, for excuses…for us to fail students.
Many of the schools I have worked in definitely go far and beyond to provide THE BEST for each and every student. I haven’t sat in too many IEP meetings or similar, where the conversation turned to what is appropriate and what is not. But I’ve experienced it, and it is uncomfortable and heartbreaking to be a part of, New Detroit Teacher. If it is determined that XYZ will help a student be successful academically – that is exactly what’s appropriate.