Sunday, February 26, 2006
Finding Answers to Education
I have never been a foster care parent except in a couple of emergency situations, maybe five kids total, which is nothing compared to the foster care moms who've parented several hundred children. I so admire y'all.
This issue, of foster children, is ever so important to me since nearly all of my children were foster children for usually a time of several years each.
Foster kids are often orphans of the living. As usual this is not my original thought, but the title of an eye-opening book. Every single event in my children's foster care time has had a lasting impact on their behavior and world view. I subscribe to a periodical, Fostering Families Today, and am now reading about s study on the educational experience of foster children.
It is such a big duh, to me, as it only reaffirms our worst personal educational experiences. A couple of things such as, "children in out-of-home care who are in sixth to eighth grade are three times more likely to be classified as eligible for special ed than the general populations." No kidding?
"Mid-year disruption has an adverse effect on children's academics, peer relationships, and my ultimately increase the chances of not finishing high school." You think???
Quotes are from the article, sarcasm from my big mouth.
I know this simply from my 25 years in the public school system.
But big whoop if I know it, what can I do about it?
I don't know.
I initially thought, several decades ago, that someone with a teaching certificate, and an education degree, could make up for those gaps but I'm finding that not to be the case.
This article goes on to further depress my once-burgeoning abilities to teach as it gives more dismal statistics regarding the number of moves on a child.
I know this.
I have 15 children over the age of 18, and of those children, 5 did not make it through the high school graduation ceremony on time and with their school. We had to find alternative high school situations which shocked the snot out of middle class me.
I remember sputtering, "how hard can high school be?" when I saw failing grades, zeros, comments about no initiative and missing assignments.
"Do the work, just pass," I'd stress to no avail as I naively expected children with the emotional IQ of a toddler to handle general course loads.
If my blog does nothing else other than show adoptive parents how much long-term damage the system, and of course birth parents, have done to these children, then I feel I have succeeded in some way in urging others to keep trying different avenues.
Right now I have 7 kids, ages 14-17, and half of them will graduate "normally" and the others will need alternatives that I am already seeking out.
Then my last 17 kids, many of whom have had longer time with me, will struggle to finish. The kids who came to me younger are no less disadvantaged, I've just had more time to chose for them to repeat a grade, to get outside tutoring, and to spend time explaining vague concepts to them such as verb tenses and math facts. In their world, they have a hard enough time grasping concepts like 'forever family'...academics are a totally distant goal compared to, let's say, survival.
My children also were not born from college grads but simply from parents who were marginal member of society, often homeless, sometimes drug-addicted and always uneducated.
Kids who move in with me at age 11, 12 and 13 are so academically handicapped as to be nearly paralyzed.
I have one daughter, Deysi, who was 12 when she arrived in 1988 from Honduras, speaking no English, yet she has a college degree now in sociology. She was never in the foster care system, she was a victim of extreme poverty. There's a difference.
Another son, Jesse, was 12, in 1995 and had spent years in the system. He was labeled special ed but he tested out mid high school. School was still such a challenge that I had to find an alternative. Life itself was such a challenge to Joe that school sent him off the ledge. After Youth Challenge, in which both boys also earned some college credit, I had graduates.
I am just as proud of them both as I am of Yolie with a Master's Degree in Social Work.
Nothing is easy for a former foster child including education, trust, safety and/or believing they can live a life that could doesn't provoke the too familiar sense of fear.
With Joey, Vanessa and Fabian I will continue to seek out all the available help for their educational needs. I have become a huge fan of our armed forces. This from a child of the sixties during the Vietnam War era. I've since learned that four years in the service is more than equivalent, in our world, to a college degree for my children as they gain discipline, education, skills and experience that is priceless.
My kids know that my minimal, non-negotiable, expectation for them includes a high school diploma, a job and productive living skills. I'll help them get there, I'll dog them until they do, and I'll be their best encourager throughout.
Then I'll act like they all got their brains from me, if I still have any left by then.