It’s time for everyone’s favorite: YOU MAKE THE CALL! You know the game; you read the scenario and write me back with your opinion. I will in turn tally up the results and let you know how everyone voted.
Here is today’s’ question: Should a high school student with a learning disability be held to the same academic standards as a student with no disabilities?
Let me paint you a picture of this true story…
Jacob had dyslexia. He had a learning disability that caused him to struggle in the classroom. It wasn’t that he didn’t want good grades or that he didn’t try hard, as a matter of fact, he put in extra hours studying at home and even more on top of that because he met with a special tutor to get extra help. He had to put in many more hours than the average student at his school just to keep his head above water. He really tried!
After school, he loved sports. He wasn’t the best on the team, nor was he en route for a college scholarship, but he absolutely loved it. He played several sports growing up as a younger child and wanted to play on several of the teams as each season presented that opportunity. He was a good athlete and did well with the sports that he played.
He had lots of friends because of being on a team. You see, sports gave him that sense of accomplishment that he didn’t get in the classroom. He felt embarrassed because of his learning disability. It was his involvement with sports that kept him “above water”. It was sports that gave him confidence and self-assurance, even if he was, in his mind, a “failure” in the classroom.
He connected with his coaches and gave them 100% effort. He had a great attitude, and modeled good sportsmanship.
The bad and insecure feelings that he had about himself from his learning disability waned as soon as he strapped on his cleats and was ready for football practice. He was in his element!
Then came that day when the midterm grades came out, that day that determines whether or not you are academically eligible to participate in afterschool activities; that ugly list, the “black” list.
And whose name do you think was on the top?
Jacob was declared academically ineligible. He was kicked off the football team.
That one area of his life that gave him even a glimmer of hope was taken away. That one area in his life that gave him a sense of “being like the other kids” was snatched away. He wasn’t even eligible to be the water boy.
Sure, he could get back on the team if he brought his grades up. For 4 years that didn’t happen. He spent more hours in the books trying than any other kid. His parents spent thousands of borrowed dollars to get him the special tutoring that he needed.
He just couldn’t make the mark; never to play on the school team again, couldn’t sing in the tour choir, couldn’t tryout for the school play. He was issued a pass to go to school and then go home immediately. He had a pass to go home and spend the rest of the afternoon in his room.
But, hey, those are the rules! If you make an exception here, where do you draw the line? School officials would then lay prey to endless excuses and hardship stories. They would then be asked to take objectivity out and their opinion now was to be part of the equation, which we all know can cause big time problems.
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” Is there not a clearer picture than this for an exception?
Being on a team was his big opportunity for having friends and being involved and being “normal”. It was his hope for the future. How can you take that away?
It wasn’t the extra time spent on after school activities that caused his bad grades. It was his disability. Staying home didn’t help at all. He never became eligible. Come on! You can’t take that one thing away that we can give him as hope. He wasn’t a problem, just the opposite; he was a joy to have on the team.
My call: Change the rules and figure out an exception clause.
Ok, now you make the call; what do you think?
1. Should we stick to the rules and eliminate the controversies of individual special rulings, which could cause problems and even lead to potential lawsuits?
2. Should we find an exception to the rule and give the opportunity to these kids?
You make the call! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.