Friday, April 29, 2011

Useful Advocacy Tool For Iphone, Ipad Users

"Humanism believes that the individual attains the good life by harmoniously combining personal satisfactions and continuous self-development with significant work and other activities that contribute to the welfare of the community."   ~  Corliss Lamont ~

In navigating the public school special education system. parents often find themselves up against huge barriers working through the heavily laden bureaucracy.  More often than not, parents are left feeling confused and helpless as they attempt to come to grips with their child's disability and an appropriate education as defined by state and federal laws.  School districts by and large often add to the stress level by not working in cooperation with parents to appropriately educating children with special needs as defined by law.

It is no surprise to me that a thoughtful educator has come up with an app with parents in mind.  In response to the countless parents running into brick walls with school districts, the use of new technology in the iPhone and iPad devices help parents have useful  resources within easy reach. The latest technology gives parents a tool readily available at their finger tips with an app created by Syracuse University School of Education professor Alan Foley. It is called the iAdvocate and it's free through iTunes. Basically, the application provides strategic information and resources to engage and empower parents by helping them be aware of their legal rights in getting a free and appropriate education for their children.

Foley who is the associate professor in the Department of Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation (IDDE) hopes the app will serve to enable parents to work in a collaborative effort with school professionals toward positive resolutions in educating children.  In essence, Foley hopes the use of the app will help to improve services and access for children by providing needed support for parents.

I use a Blackberry and have no immediate plan to switch to the iPhone.  I hope an app will be made for it in the near future.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Child Is Not The Poster Child For Autism...

... he is however, a child on the autism spectrum.

My school district refuses to acknowledge my son is a child on the spectrum. The school psychologist disputes the findings in the evaluation I obtained through the NYU Child Study Center, NYC. She states, my son doesn't show the social aspect for him to truly have "autism" as it's defined under Autism DSM 299.0. She has only an MA and challenges the findings conducted by experts with Ph.D's in the field of autism spectrum disorders.

To meet the challenges of appropriately educating my son, it requires more resources they do not presently have but will not say it's the reason. However, it doesn't change the fact that my child is in need as the children are in the video.

We have a significant problem in the U.S. school system that fails to not make available these resources for every child in need. The laws state we must provide but the requirements to meet the challange are elusive in many school districts. What does it say about our public education that a parent must be fortunate enough to win a lottery with odds stacked against them so their child can have the appropriate education he needs and deserves.

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011



Resolution:  : the act or process of resolving: as a : the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones b : the act of answering : solving c : the act of determining

I have a resolution meeting in response to the due process complaint.  It is the step taken by the school district after a parent files for due process.  The definition stated above is there because I want to be absolutely clear of it’s meaning.  That might seem a bit curious to some but I have good reasons for needing this confirmation.  There are a number of large issues on the table and a resolution meeting by it’s expressed intention is to have both parties on opposing sides work out their differences.  Although I’m trying to remain open minded and optimistic it is a challenge.  And, the reason for the flagging optimism is simply because the CSE Chair has gone out of their way to make it extra challenging for me to resolve the concerns I have regarding my son’s education.

It was only yesterday that I learned the school psychologist reneged on her offer to provide the report from the recent Connors 3 and Brief my husband and I so dutifully completed and returned in an expedient manner.  Originally, the SP gave me the choice of either A)  go over the report in person on the day and prior to the resolution meeting, or B)  she would send it to me.   I opted for ‘B’ only to be disappointed that we would not receive the report prior to the meeting.   It is like the Peanuts character, Lucy pulling the football out from Charlie Brown just as he is about to kick it.  Charlie would always fall flat on his back.  Do I need to say how dysfunctional it is.  Adults who are responsible for educating children create obstacles for parents which directly and adversely impacts the education of the child.  Just consider it as this is what I have been up against.  Unfortunately, these prevailing attitudes and the game playing at the expense of children are an all too common thread.  The objective for the school district is to win while the (parent) child loses.  In reality, I’m not trying to win.  I am seeking an appropriate education for my child and ultimately if I’m not successful because the school district refuses to assist in the effort, it is my child who loses – not me!

We are trying to work out solutions and in partnership with the district regarding a child who has learning challenges associated with his disability.  However, that requires cooperation and collaboration which has been in short supply from the school district as the example expressed above.  Do I have to tell you how tired I feel.  And, the disillusionment by this whole entire system who’s “intended” purpose is to protect children with special needs.  To add in is a little known piece about not being allowed to record the meeting.  I have looked at the NYS special education part 200 regulations but unable to find anywhere in it that recording of resolution meetings is expressly prohibited.  If you find it, please shine a light on it.

A large part of the aforementioned challenges is a lack of accountability and absolute limits imposed on school districts.  There is little to no oversight and by virtue of the way the system is set up, school districts have way too much leeway to circumvent it.  They will  intentionally drag proceedings out because there are no time limits set to resolve conflicting opinions.  And, the timeframes stated in some instances in the law are shrugged off by school districts.  There is no established standard of best practices only laws on the books that require minimally for parents to have a background in paralegal studies.    It is not an exaggeration when I say we need experience in research.  That is not a luxury many parents can afford for so many reasons.  As a result, way too many children will ultimately fall through the cracks because their caregivers didn’t have the resolve to change it because the task to do so is daunting.  And, because the system the way it’s designed is a wide path with a narrow door.

As I reflect back on what has brought me to this point and with every obstacle thrown my way, I approach the upcoming resolution meeting with a certain amount of trepidation; as another exercise in wasting precious time my child cannot afford.   I hope this outlook is wrong.  I hope for my son’s sake the willingness by the school district to work out our issues are sincere and will be the driving force.


“I am persuaded, that if any attempt is made to improve the education of the poor, and such an unmanly spirit should guide the resolution of a society or committee for that purpose, it would render the design abortive.”  ~ Joseph Lancaster ~