“Enough! I’ve had it! That’s it! I’m leaving! Your questions are humiliating and insulting. They take away a person’s pride. They make me feel like I am less than human. You have this bizarre idea that I’m obsessed with eating candy according to its color. And you’re armed with a binder of information about me that you won’t share with me or my mother. Every year, you ask the same questions, as if I might’ve forgotten how to tie my shoelaces or that Phoenix is the capital of Arizona. Then you have me do the same stupid tests of connecting dots, adding numbers and fitting together simple puzzles. You know the answers, and you know I know the answers. Yet, you put me through this humiliation and then assign me back to the same do-nothing classroom, where there isn’t a qualified special ed teacher, and where you know I’ll learn little or nothing. I am outraged at your refusal to help me—injured, violated and enraged at the low standard of your commitment.
Last year, you agreed that I needed more advanced education. But did I get it? You said you’d hire a tutor for me, because my classroom teacher couldn’t provide the educational assistance I needed. Did I get a tutor? No, I did not get a tutor. I got a teacher who stayed for three minutes to make sure I had something to study, and then left me alone in that classroom for a year. I’m the one who’s been sitting in an empty classroom for two hours every afternoon, for the past year, by myself, memorizing vocabulary words. I’m the one who’s been teaching myself. I’m the one who’s been trying to figure out how to educate myself.
You sit there putting on an attitude, and always going back to the same questions, looking for evidence to label me retarded. You don’t want to build a bridge between where I am now and where I’ll need to be, when I become an adult. You want to make me out to be worse off than I am! You want to write off my life.”
Karen paused, and Mama stood to speak.
Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.