Why Catholic Schools Are Called to Serve Kids with Special Educational Needs | Giftie Etcetera: Why Catholic Schools Are Called to Serve Kids with Special Educational Needs

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Why Catholic Schools Are Called to Serve Kids with Special Educational Needs

My kids attend Catholic school.

In so many ways, it is an incredible experience.

They learn about being kind and loving. Academically, they are challenged. They met others who have so much in common with us and make lifelong connections.

But, for years, they missed out on meeting any kids with significant special needs.

Catholic, Catholic school, special needs

This year, that changed. Our school (and some other Catholic schools in Baton Rouge, Louisiana) are accepting students with special challenges, like autism or dyslexia.

As a mom of an epilepsy kid, I could barely be more excited. Every kid deserves the caliber of education that my kids receive.

(Yes, public school kids do, too, which is why I always vote yes for education funding.)

The Loki won't be alone in having special challenges (though, as a medical challenge, his needs are a little different than academically-challenged or socially-challenged kids.)

But as a mom of a slightly above average, completely "normal" kid (down to his hair, which he prefers to have cut "as boring as possible, please"), I am jumping up and down and singing praises for the school and its students!

My "normal" kid (Ander) was missing out - on helping others, on understanding human struggles and successes, on being empathetic - and now he gets a chance to see kids who aren't just like him. He has the opportunity to become compassionate!

Compassion for others is part of the reason we selected a religious school and it was a part that was missing for a long time. So bravo to the Baton Rouge Diocese for educating all children.

I hope that the Church will decide to go even further and stop charging a surcharge for kids with special needs.

I am willing to put my money where my mouth is and pay a bit more for my own tuition and do more fundraising to get the program costs covered, but I think the value - both to the kids in the program and to my own kid - make it worth bringing costs of the program down for the parents of these special kids.

Do your local private schools accept children with challenges? Do they charge extra?


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Debbie said...

I am not sure how it goes here. I know that in Brazil they had a project to eliminate schools for children with special needs and let than go to "normal" ones.
My only concerned is: are the professionals qualified to support this new public? I used to be a teacher before coming to Belgium and I have to be sincere with myself: I don't think that back then I would be prepared for such a change.
Thanks a lot for sharing it on #TipTuesday.

Danielle @ A Sprinkle of Joy said...

I used to teach at a Catholic school in Michigan. We had special need students attend, and as far as I know we didn't charge extra. However, depending on how severe the disability was, we sometimes suggested public school. Not because we didn't want them at our school, but because we don't have the same resources as a public school. Public schools have so much more they can do to help students who are struggling.

VodkaSoyLatte said...

My kids go to a highly competitive, secular private school (where they also learn about being kind and loving... A parochial education is hardly the prerequisite for kindness). Special needs kids are accepted provided they test into the the school. Resources are provided at no extra cost to the families and often scholarships are available.

Giftie Etcetera said...

I did not say that a "parochial education...is a prerequisite for kindness." If you read it that way, you are mistaken about my intent.

Instead, I was noting that they learn kindness without having students with exception needs in their classrooms, but I wanted more. In fact, I wanted something that they would have gotten in most secular schools - an experience of compassion and interaction with some very special kids.

Unknown said...

I WISH we had private Catholic schools here. We have such a tiny Catholic population that there aren't any at all. :( Our kiddo will be attending a Presbyterian preschool instead, and beyond preschool, our options are only public school, an evangelical private school or homeschooling. I'm leaning toward the latter.

I had no idea that schools charge extra for students with special needs.