How the Public School System Failed my Family

In the beginning of the spring my family made our first move in about 8 years. For me moving and changing schools was just how my family worked. I have changed schools and bounced back from mom and dad since the start. I had grown accustomed to the changes and was always good at making friends. My younger brother (the middle child) only moved from one district to another where a list of learning disabilities made my mother decided to keep him in one place. So, we moved and we stayed in one small living complex for 8 years. This meant my youngest brother never had to switch schools from elementary through middle school.

This was probably for the best because he had always struggled academically and even slightly socially. So, when we moved and he only had a year and a half left of middle school, which in our town was spilt into two districts, it meant he would need to move schools. For most kids this is not that big of a deal. We live in a town that only hit city population levels about 10 years ago, and in most cases if you were involved in any social activities or sports it meant no matter which school you went to you would know somebody. This was not the case for my youngest brother. He had dappled in a string of sports, but even then the only friends he had ever made were from the south side of the city, and his new school was on the north side.

As I write this I can begin to see how this all slightly sounds like a movie, but trust me it is very real, and because of this my youngest brother is on the verge of having to repeat the 7th grade.

He was nervous for the move and a new school, which makes sense. My mom drove him on his first day and they went in together and met his principle and his student guide who was meant to bring him around for the first day (we later found out this did not happen). He came home and was tired and barely wanted to talk. We all told him it was just new kid jitters, I was a pro at them, but the entire situation seemed a little bit off from what was considered normal.

After a month nothing got better, and everything got worse. Every week he was missing the bus and because there was nobody to drive him this meat every week he also missed a day of school. We soon found out he had barely made any friends and was eating lunch alone. Then soon he came home crying. He was miserable and he was failing every class.

In his old school he had been doing fine, nothing amazing but fine. Here though he had become an ‘F’ student. This was what things were like in the days before he was put on an IEP or individual education plan. After he had done well for about two years they school decided he had no real reason to keep the IEP. He did fine without the IEP until the school change.

Now, after about 3 moths we had a list of things to bring to the school board to attempt to get him back into his previous school; grades, doctor notes and a plee from my brother himself. They said we could move his school, but transportation was on us, which is hard when your job starts at the same time as your son’s school day.

Now my brother has apparently been skipping class all day long to go sit in the bathroom. What is most surprising about this it that nobody in the school noticed he was gone until the end of the day, and they didn’t call to inform my mother until the following day. Most often schools will choose to “get rid” of the kids who required any form of IEP because this costs the school money. When my brother was removed from the IEP he began to fall apart, and this processes was just accelerated by the move to a new school.

We are now in the extensive processes of trying to figure out if we can manage to get him back and forth to his old school everyday. We are fighting to get him back onto an IEP, but everywhere we turn they tell us that he is fine and if he just applied himself he would be doing that much better. There is the issue of him not even knowing where to start with the piles of homework he is coming home with.

All we want if for somebody in the school system to understand that he may be a special case, and he needs help. Public schools should not shut a child out or turn away his problems by getting rid of him. That is what happened in our case. Not one person wanted to “deal” with him so when they had the chance they moved his school, to one three times the size with a group of kids he had never interacted with before. This is how the public school system failed my family.

Why I Decided to Give Up Meat.

The idea to live my life meat free stemmed from a multitude of things. There was the slight displeasure I would feel every time I put a piece of meat to my tongue, the fact that being an environmental science major meant I spent most of my time with those who choose to avoid meat, and how I knew I would begin to feel when I cut it out of my life.

At first I decided I would end my mostly carnivorous lifestyle silently, I told my closest friend and she agreed that it was a great idea, and that we could do it together. This was a huge step for me. I had tried multiple times to give it up all on my own, with no prevail. I had been young and unaware that the processes would take more then simply cutting it all out entirely.

Week one was difficult and I almost caved at the sight of the fried chicken my school was serving for dinner the second day. What got my through was that I knew I wasn’t alone. I had someone who had also never ventured to our universities vegan station before. I picked for the first week keeping a rather close friendship with french fries, but before I knew it tofu found its way onto my plate as well as an array of vegetables that had before never been of much interest.

The it came time for a visit home, and the inevitable talk with my household of die hard meat eaters. My mom knew as soon as it left my lips that I was serious. Most of the other times I had told her that I was becoming vegetarian with no reason. This time though I had a list of reasons why this would be better for me. I gave her a list of things that I was now eating and she started shopping. At first she would get frustrated with me because it was hard to decide what I would eat, but one mother daughter shopping trip later she could replaced almost everything my family would eat through a week with a healthy vegetarian option.

I am now about 3 months into the entire processes, and so far not only do I feel better about myself, but there are a multitude of health benefits. I would never try to change anyone by telling them meat is awful, because to make such a drastic lifestyle change you need to be all in it yourself. If you feel pressured then it will never happen for you.

I had wanted to give up meat for years, and now that I think about it I was already on my way for a long time. I had avoided every meat product except chicken, and cringed at even the mention of red meat. I would never expect someone to read this and think being vegetarian is easy, because there are times when all I want is my moms chicken wings, but then I remember why I am doing this. Meat is the main reason for global warming and uses an excessive amount of water. These facts may not change anyone else, but for me, a die hard tree hugger, this was heart wrenching news.

Making a change is never easy, but if you decided on your own to do it, and find a veggie loving friend, then it can really simply be a lifestyle shift rather then a change.