The Weird Wonky Elephant
Let’s talk about the elephant that arrived in the mail a few months ago.
I got a letter from Aidan’s school congratulating him for making High Honors, one of three students to do so. I laughed a little and asked his teacher about it.
Aidan has an IEP (individual education plan) which basically means that he has very specific goals and just has to show that he’s making progress with them. He’s not graded in the same way as other students.
Aidan does, however, take chorus. Chorus has been an important part of my life and believe it or not I got a little protective of the chorus class when Aidan was signed up for it. It’s an academic class with an emphasis on listening. Aidan vocalizes when he wants to and while he sometimes matches the tonality of the speaker, he never matches pitch. He could be a real distraction. But he was welcome in the class. The teacher was glad to have him and made sure he had instruments to play when appropriate.
So when it came time to give him a grade, he got an A. Now this is where other parents jump in and complain about grades having no meaning if Aidan can get an A or turn a blind eye because it’s just chorus. While this really isn’t a post about the truth of chorus being an academic class (I’ve always believed math teachers should be the first in line to save the jobs of music teachers), that grade absolutely matters. And I will agree that by academic standards Aidan didn’t truly deserve an A.
And this is where it gets messy. Because of some red tape gobbly gook that I’m not privy too, Aidan had to receive a letter grade for that class and giving him an A was probably as logical as giving him an F.
And that is how he made High Honors, with one academic grade.
So I posted it on Facebook and we celebrated. It was nice to have everyone join in.
In some sense though, it was a bit like pouring salt on the wound, a reminder that Aidan is on his own path. He really can’t earn the same A. One more milestone for his peers that he just can’t have. Aidan’s working for something different entirely. He’s working to expand his vocabulary, to get stronger and be able to walk more, to have more skills that will allow him to be more independent. There are no high honors for that. I could post his IEP but your eyes would glaze over and the declarations of “partially meets” this goal would not sound very celebratory.
But we celebrate anyway. He’s working hard, making progress, and learning. Disability World is full of Both/Ands. I’m both sad that his High Honors were basically an administrative error and proud that he has come so far.
So tell me, who or what are you celebrating today?