Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advocacy, not anger

So, joy of joy, it’s time for another annual plan meeting. You’d think that the meetings for a kid with a lower level disability would be easier than those for a kid with a higher level. Honestly, I think it’s not as much a reflection of the child, as a reflection of the school. There are schools that feel that educating kids with IEP’s and 504’s is a legal obligation – something they have to do. As you might expect, this attitude leads to meetings where much is said but little happens afterwards. In contrast, there are schools that really see the value in educating kids that think differently. Schools that see these kids as an addition. It seems like this attitude spills over into valuing all types of diversity – racial, economic, gender, fast learners, slow learners, etc.

So this morning’s meeting is at a school where I'm not sure that everybody is on board about the value of kids that think differently. Already there are bad feelings about “special treatment” and that somehow a documented, diagnosed learning disability is more a matter of “not trying.” Not from the entire team, but from at least a few teachers. I’m all for holding kids responsible for their actions, but where is the responsibility on the other side? If the school has a plan for a student, shouldn’t they (down to the level of individual teachers) be responsible for reading and following the plan? If a student needs to learn through consequences, then should there be consequences for the school? Doubtful.

Hopefully this vent on my blog will allow me to go into this meeting as a peacemaking advocate for my child. To get what’s needed and what’s constructive and what’s legally called for. Take a deep breath, visualize good outcomes and… ready to go.

Post Script - All went well and I am left with a feeling that even if individual teachers have issues with special needs students, this is not a school-wide problem.

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