On the web, in newspapers, in churches, pretty much everywhere...it is quite popular to say how much one hates the public school system. In many ways, it is flawed. Archaic. Useless. I'm not denying it.
Yet today, I realized how much public school has saved my son, Bucket.
He started public school at the tender age of 3, due to his disability. When he started special education preschool, he was completely non-verbal. Violent. There were no words, just screaming, shrieking in agony, pointing and throwing items. He was so frustrated that he bit his own arms until they bled, knocked his head on the floor on purpose, and was not even close to being potty trained.
His preschool teacher helped us turn it all around. She was firm, consistent, and loving. To this day, I consider her a friend, even though we don't see each other anymore. I'm sure if she saw Bucket today, she would be shocked and surprised. Many of the children she has in her classroom are considered failures at the young age of 3. They may never speak, never be independent, never have a job, never marry, never be "socially acceptable." Bucket was one of the few who seemed to come out of his shell, learn songs, words, rules and games.
Today, I had to go to his new school and sign paperwork stating that he no longer qualified for speech therapy services. In seven years, we went from a terrified, mute 3 year old to a confident eloquent 10 year old. They showed me his past paperwork. In the blink of an eye, I was transported back to a time when my little Bucket was so violent that he broke two of my ribs during a temper tantrum (yes, he did, I'm not kidding) and chipped my front tooth when he head butted me, to the sweet boy I have now.
And I cried, looking at my son's records and realizing that he's really not even the same child . I couldn't have done it without public school. I had no idea how to teach a child to speak. I didn't know how to get through the clouded veil of autism. I was a devastated, tired, sleep deprived and ANGRY mom. I didn't know what was wrong with my son. I just knew that I didn't know how to fix it. Public school helped us. Forever. And I'm entirely grateful.