Our Private School Didn't Fight For My Son or Daughter, But Chicago Public Schools Did

Come January 2018, Illinois parents will have the chance to apply for tax credits when they donate to scholarship funds for private schools. But I won’t be one of those parents. I actually moved my three children from a private school to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) because the private school was not willing to accommodate their needs. Private schooling just didn’t fit for any of my kids. I have two children with ADHD, and the private school did not provide additional services. It didn’t fight for either my son or my daughter. During the process, a lot of their rights as students were violated. The school wanted my children to conform to school social norms instead of accommodating their needs. In our experience, the private school was only good for teaching discipline, respect and structure, nothing else. It was a waste of money, and the staff and faculty really didn’t care about any of my kids’ needs. My son was in private school for two years. His condition only got worse, and he wasn’t learning anything. When we made the change, CPS fought for my son to get the services he needed. In six weeks, he had an individualized education program (IEP). My son is in a special-education classroom, not for academics but for behavior and for support because he struggles to pay continuous attention in class. I appreciate that what a special education classroom looks like is very different now from what it was back when I was a student in the district. His classroom is more inclusive. Instructors engage the students in regular classroom settings so that the special-needs children don’t lose social skills and can learn to manage in a larger classroom setting. My son now has a teacher who understands his needs and works with him on his level. As a parent, that’s new and refreshing to see.
An original version of this post appeared on the Chicago Tribune as Letter: My Son Found The Help He Needed At CPS.
La'Kendreia Gibson-Webster is a wife and a mom of three ambitious, smart and talented Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students. She herself is also a product of the CPS school system from elementary through high school. She has a B.S. in Sociology, minoring in Black Studies. Since she has two children with ADHD, she decided to go back to school for Special Education Endorsement and is currently ...

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