Saturday, July 3, 2010

English Paper #1: Everyone Deserves and Equal Shot

I recently got my first English paper back from my teacher, and since it's safe to post online now (we have to go through a site that scours the web to make sure we didn't plagiarize before we hand it in), I thought I would go ahead and share it with all my readers to let you all know I'm not just skipping out on my blogging duties ;)

Be sure to let me know what you think about it!!

Love and Energies.

P.s. I got a B+ on it with all the end extra credit corrections I handed in-Apparently a B is actually considered an A in this guy's class, so I guess I'm okay with it.

Although I would have liked that A. Lol


The 504 Plan: Everyone Deserves an Equal Shot

When questioned, no matter who it is, the popular assumption about youth is that “high school is the best years of your life.” It’s advertised on the television, and within books and movies, thus traditionally becoming a major deal throughout the generations; a right of passage if you will. Our parents reminisce about back in the day, and the memories they have about their years in high school. Us younger kids who hear the funny and wonderful stories from our parents about their past simply cannot wait to grow up and become freshmen. Our turn at memories and fun await us once we walk through those halls to our first class as high schoolers. My question to you is what about those of us who are already in high school, and are having trouble with our classes, or the required reading, or even the hallways our friends and fellow classmates seem to walk everyday with no problem? Certain people have problems when it comes to school and need a little help to get an equal shot at an education. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was one of those kids who needed that extra help to see me through my four years of school. This is generally where a 504 plan would come into play.

The section of the 504 law, also called the Rehabilitation Act, was passed by congress in 1973, but was not fully put into effect until about 1977 because the people who passed the law did not completely understand its concept. Those four years in between 1973 and 1977 were looked upon as basically granting access to certain buildings, restrooms, and classrooms for those who needed the help, instead of granting access, as well as, helping people with their educational, physical, and emotional needs. Within the last several years, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has helped expand the law by spreading awareness of what it is, what it states and defines, and also what it’s supposed to encompass when it comes to everything an individual might need. Now, the 504 plan should not be confused with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which is a plan that deals with students with specific learning disabilities and educational needs.

To qualify for a 504 plan, an individual has to have a physical or emotional disability that in any way prohibits, or restricts them from participating in any major life activity. A major life activity is defined as something a person must do in life, some of which include, but are not limited to walking, talking, seeing, and breathing. In my case, I was denied the 504 plan, because in the school and the school district’s eyes, I “seemed” perfectly fit to attend school. That was far from the case, however, and because of this detail I was forced to either go to school when I was able bodied, or be put on homebound status (not to be confused with home schooling). This is how my four years of high school went: short periods in school when I was well, and prolonged homebound absences when I was sick or bedridden. Some of my fellow Lyme Disease sufferers, lovingly referred to as “Lymies,” who were unable to participate in school or school related activities were granted the ability to pursue a 504 plan. When questioned, they said it was the best thing that could have happened to them, and their education. Why I did not meet the qualifications is beyond me, but I do know that this plan would have helped me immensely instead of me struggling to get through high school on my own for four, long years.

When a person suspects that they or someone else they know may need help with school or a school related activity, it is helpful to know the steps in applying for a 504 plan. Generally there are four steps in attaining an individualized 504 plan. Step one consists of being referred by someone such as a parent, physician, teacher, or counselor. Sometimes, if the student him or herself suspects something is wrong and feels they need special help, they can often refer themselves. After the initial referral is brought to the attention of the school and all parties involved, there will be a scheduled evaluation. This is step two in the four step process. In most school districts, there are specialized committees that are designed strictly to carry out these four tasks and to make sure students get the right plan for them. In this type of situation, formalized testing is not required. The committee does is looks at the student’s numerous past records: prior grades up until that point, standardized testing scores, disciplinary actions taken, teacher’s reports, medical records, and so on. When satisfied with the outcome, the committee can either do one of two things: deny the referral or approve it and go about setting up a meeting with everyone involved to discuss what must be done and what type of help is needed. Once the evaluation is completed, and you’re granted a 504, a meeting will be held for you to make a plan of what type of help is needed. This is step number three. Those involved in the meeting will most likely be one or both parents, teachers, the principle, counselors and anyone else pertaining to your case. Depending on the degree and specific area of help needed, certain accommodations will be made to make your days in school much more easily manageable. Of course, accommodations range from situation to situation. A few examples of what can be done are different seat assignments for people who have issues seeing the board, the ability to eat in class for those with low blood sugar problems, or even a pass for an elevator (if your school has it) if you can not take the stairs for one reason or another. The last step in the process is to schedule an annual review with everyone who was involved in the initial meeting to see if and how the changes made in the student’s day to day routine have helped. Anything that makes your high school days easier can be incorporated into your individual 504.

I can tell you with certainty that if I had had the 504 plan tailored to my needs, I would have been much better off than not having it. As a result, I suffered through my four years of high school. Due to this, I am never going to have fond memories I can share with my children about high school, because when I look back at the time spent, all I’ll remember is the unrealistic deadlines, the constant fighting, and the discriminatory, mean spirited teachers who fought against me instead of trying to work with me. It is the law that education must be provided to all children ages three to twenty-one at the public’s expense despite their ethnicity, sex, economic, or religious backgrounds; it does not state the quality at which the education should be provided. In the overall scheme of things, the 504 plan helps provide the education children need, as well as help with the quality at which it is provided.

Disclaimer:: This paper is the exclusive property and copywrite of The Eclectic Element.


Angela @ Nine More Months said...

Great paper! I didn't even know there was a program like that. Learn something new every day, right?

I agree though, that not everyone has the great memories of high school that movies and tv shows glamorize.

But you know what? Most people like that peaked in high school and now look back on their "glory days" longingly, and often try to relive them through their own children. I like to think that my life is still heading in an uphill direction, and will continue to do so until I'm gone. :)

Unknown said...

awww I'm sorry you weren't approved. really weird tho,what were they thinking?
Anyway, my 2 cents here is that I don't have good high school memories either :( I was kinda of a nerd, always with perfect grades, studying 300 hours per day and all the other kids hated me. If this is any consolation :)

Lorie Shewbridge said...

Very well written and informative. I think you should be really proud of yourself!!
I never knew either that there was such a thing as a 504 Plan.
It doesn't matter what happened to you in high school, because you are doing so well now and you are gonna show them!! :-)