I was reading about a man named Nehemiah who was grief stricken by the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem being in ruins. He was so grief stricken that his captive King asked him "Why are you so down cast?"
The king was so moved by his servant's anguish he allowed him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple with the kings financial backing. However, that wasn't the end of the story. Nehemiah, with a small remnant of individuals had to remove all the rubbish. This was no small feat. They not only had to clean-up the devastation and ruins, there were marauders who were trying to kill them and individuals who wanted to stop the rebuilding of the Temple.
Why, do I share this story? Every day the workers and volunteers at Cornerstone go out to defend the rights of children with disabilities to receive an appropriate education. However, every day we have to clean out the rubbish first.
The rubbish for us is false perceptions of children with disabilities, not using research-based strategies, the acceptance of mediocracy by schools, not communicating with parents, not providing the services or accommodations on the IEP, and having to deal with staff members being offended because you ask questions about your child's education.
Lately, I have had to go to several meetings for the same students because of the lack of preparation by school staff. There appears to be no accountability for school staff to come to the IEP meetings with data that demonstrates a student's present levels. When you question the staff member about the data that was supposed to be collected based on the IEP or a District Requirement they look at you with contempt and say you are being unreasonable. I have been yelled at and told that I am being disrespectful to the teachers because I ask for the data or question when I see they didn't finish an assessment they are using to demonstrate the student's progress. The last thing I want to do is call out a teacher or a school.
My husband and I started Cornerstone SEA because we wanted to get parents, schools, and the community together to help students with disabilities. We want to help the schools as much as help the students. I want to help the school staff to better serve the student and to celebrate with the student their accomplishments. It seems as though they spend more time trying to save face or cover their tracks.
We don't have time for countless meetings. Our children are behind and we only have a short time to get them ready for the outside world. As parents, we don't have just one academic year with our children, for us it’s a lifetime endeavor.
We have to ensure they have the Tools, Opportunities, Skills, and Supports they need to get a job, function in society, follow their calling, etc. We have to look beyond the school house.
Let's clean the rubbish. Let's forget ourselves and focus on the student. Let's make an effective individual education plan, to ensure our student has the Tools, Opportunities, Skills and Supports they need to succeed not only this year but for life.