Friday, February 4, 2011

A Typical Exchange

African Proverb:  "you're either part of the solution or part of the problem."

Does anything in this satirical video sound familiar to you?

If so, you're not alone. There are often times when I've voiced the concerns I have for my child the administrators and teachers in my school district will discount it. We make jokes over things we feel powerless to change like our politicians in government. Comedians use the pains and ills of society for fodder often in their work. Laughing keeps us from crying.

A couple of months ago, I received a note from my child's general education teacher where she mentioned that she and the special education teacher have M.A.'s. Really? I certainly hope that minimally they possess adequate credentials. There are many things going on; too many to mention here at once, however, my reply was, I have a PhD on life! Sarcastic? Perhaps. But this is the result of parental frustration when we're working without end to get our child's appropriate educational needs met in the public school system.

My son is only 9 years old.  Unfortunately, I know that I have my work cut out for me negotiating in and navigating my way through the special education system.  And sadly, we can't expect the schools to simply identify the problem and do the right thing. That will not work in many cases. However, at the same time, schools must take parental concerns seriously without argument.  For instance, if I say, my child isn't demonstrating the same level of work at home as he allegedly is able to do at school, it is my opinion the school needs to pay attention and do an assessment.   And, if we provide a privately obtained evaluation by a reputable professional or agency, the district needs to pay attention to it.  Not to simply take the evaluation under consideration.  The district should be required to take a closer look and work toward the recommendations outlined to meet the individual educational needs of the child.  Parents shouldn't have to brace themselves for an argument like the scenario in the video. It is an all too common exchange between parents and school personnel.   And, if that isn't bad enough, when we push to be heard, the other rhetoric thrown at us is "budget cuts".  I know but I'm still a tax payer and there are laws on the books to protect the rights of children with special educational needs.

The bottom line is that schools and parents need to collaborate in a cooperative manner in service to the student.  The student should be in the upper most part of every one's minds on the CSE team.  The team approach should be to identify the problems and take steps to correct it.  The concept is simple and it should be an achievable goal.  As for budgetary reasons, special education is funded through state and tax dollars.  Federal and state laws are clear on providing a free and appropriate education for children with special needs who have an IEP.  My child has a disability that impacts his learning and how he learns.  In effect, the district must work toward meeting the individual, educational needs of my child and children with special needs.  As long as the laws are clear in this regard, it is the duty of school districts to follow it.

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