Mayra Ramirez scored an A in driver's education this year, but sitting through the 10-week class felt like a bad joke to the Curie Metropolitan High School sophomore.
Ramirez is blind. She knows she's never going to drive. She can think of a lot of things she'd rather be studying than rules of the road, but she didn't have a choice.
Chicago Public Schools requires all sophomores to take the class and pass a written road-rules exam--a graduation requirement that affects about 30 blind and visually impaired students in specialized programs at Curie and Payton College Preparatory High.
"In other classes, you don't really feel different because you can do the work other people do," said Ramirez, 16. "But in driver's ed, it does give us the feeling we're different. In a way, it brought me down, because it reminds me of something I can't do."
State law requires that all districts offer driver's education, but does not mandate it as a graduation requirement. For the hundreds of high schools that do, there should be some exemption option for disabled students who cannot drive, a state education official said.
"It defies logic to require blind students to take this course ... and waste their academic time," said Meta Minton, spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of Education.
Chicago's public schools have no such exemption. That is something the Curie and Payton students are pushing to change, through an advocacy program at the Blind Service Association.
Another fine example of taxpayer dollars at work in government schools. Perhaps this should be added to list of 101 reasons to homeschool your kids.