The mother of a disabled boy in a morphine-induced coma is being forced to prove to the state that her son is dying so he isn't required take a mandatory standardized education test.
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Andrea Rediske's 11-year-old son Ethan, who suffered brain damage at birth resulting in cerebral palsy and blindness, had to take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test last year. His mother doesn't want him to have to do it again, because he can't
With assistance, the FCAT took Ethan six hours over the course of two weeks to complete last year, Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell reported at the time.
"He's blind. And they're showing him pictures of a giraffe, a monkey and an elephant — and asking him which one is the monkey," Orange County School Board member Rick Roach said, as quoted by the Sentinel. "I'm watching all this and just about to lose my mind."
Though state lawmakers last year began to consider the issue of disabled students forced to take standardized tests, legislation to make getting a waiver easier was not passed. The Washington Post reported that Rediske is now having to prove that her son still cannot take the test to keep a waiver he was issued.
The Post published an email Rediske sent Tuesday to Roach and Maxwell (emphasis added):
I’m writing to appeal for your advocacy on our behalf. Ethan is dying. He has been in hospice care for the past month. We are in the last days of his life. His loving and dedicated teacher, Jennifer Rose has been visiting him every day, bringing some love, peace, and light into these last days. How do we know that he knows that she is there? Because he opens his eyes and gives her a little smile. He is content and comforted after she leaves.
Jennifer is the greatest example of what a dedicated teacher should be. About a week ago, Jennifer hesitantly told me that the district required a medical update for continuation of the med waiver for the adapted FCAT. Apparently, my communication through her that he was in hospice wasn’t enough: they required a letter from the hospice company to say that he was dying. Every day that she comes to visit, she is required to do paperwork to document his “progress.” Seriously? Why is Ethan Rediske not meeting his 6th-grade hospital homebound curriculum requirements? BECAUSE HE IS IN A MORPHINE COMA. We expect him to go any day. He is tenaciously clinging to life.
This madness has got to stop. Please help us.
The Post pointed out that Ethan isn't the first disabled student in the state forced to take the test. A boy born with a brain stem but without a brain had to do so as well last year.
At the time when her son was being forced to take the test in 2013, Rediske told Tampa's Bay News 9 that she doesn't think her son should have to take a state assessment at all, but if it's required, his teacher should be allowed to create a test for him.
“They’re asking him questions about the way a peach tastes, and he’s fed through a tube in his stomach, and he will never taste a peach. They ask him about shoes and staplers and alarm clocks and school buses. Ethan doesn’t interact with any of those things,” the mother told the news station.