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From Emotions to Advocacy
The Special Education Survival Guide by Pam and Pete Wright

Table of Contents

Introduction (in pdf)
From Emotions to Advocacy
 Why Advocate?
 What You Will Learn
What This Book is Not About
How This Book is Organized
Companion Website
A Note to Parents of Section 504 Children
A Note to Special Educators
Are You Ready?

Section One. Getting Started
Chapter 1. Learning About Advocacy
Why Advocate?
Different Types of Advocates
  Lay Advocates
  Educational Advocates
  School Personnel
What Advocates Do
  Gather Information
  Learn the Rules of the Game
  Plan and Prepare
  Keep Written Records
  Ask Questions, Listen to Answers
  Identify Problems
  Propose Solutions
The Parent's Journey From Emotions to Advocacy
In Summation

Chapter 2. Creating Your Master Plan
Special Education Master Plans
Planning for Efficiency
Elements of a Master Plan
 Vision Statement
 Mission Statement
Planning for the Future
Laura and Steve: Planning
Writing Your Master Plan
 Gathering Information
 Working with an Independent Evaluator or Educational Consultant
 Qualities of a Consultant
Strategies: Finding a Consultant
Strategies: Learning From Other Parents
In Summation

Chapter 3. The Parent as Project Manager
Contractors and Project Managers
The Special Education Project Manager
 Learns New Information
 Masters New Skills
 Builds Relationships
 Takes Care of Self and Family
Tips: Taking Care of Yourself
In Summation

Section Two. Advocacy 101
Chapter 4. Learning the Rules of the Game
The Rules
Understanding the School
 School Bureaucracy Rules
 Special Education Rules
 Gatekeeper Rules
 "We Can't Make Exceptions"
 "One-Size-Fits All" (OSFA) Programs
Individualized Programs
Learning About Your School District
 Learning About School Climate
 Learning About School Teams
Rules of the Game
In Summation

Chapter 5. Obstacles to Success
Obstacles to Advocacy
 Inaccurate Information
School Obstacles
 School Culture
 Beliefs, Perceptions, & Attitudes
 5,000 Evaluations: Same Conclusion
 How Principals View Children with Learning Problems
 Belief: Parents are the Problem
 Belief: We are the Experts
Obstacles in the System
Parent Obstacles
 Anxiety and Intimidation
 Pity and Over-protectiveness
Dealing with Difficult People
 Behavior as Communication
 Pit Bulls and Bullies
 Strategies: Dealing with Pit bulls and Bullies
 Know-it-Alls and Experts
 Strategies: Dealing with Know-it-Alls
 Conflict Avoiders
 Strategies: Dealing with Conflict Avoiders
 Wet Blankets
 Strategies: Dealing with Wet Blankets
 Strategies: Dealing with Complainers
Warning: Common Emotional Traps
Your Relationship with the School
In Summation

Chapter 6. Resolving Parent-School Conflict
The Nature of Parent-School Conflict
 Beliefs, Perceptions and Interests
 When Interests Conflict
 Real Issues: Expense and Control
 Expense of Individualized Programs
 Loss of Control
Strategies to Deal with Common Parent-School Problems
 Different Views of the Child
 Lack of Information
 Lack of Options
 Hidden Issues
 Feeling Devalued
 Poor Communication and Intimidation
 Loss of Trust
Tips to Resolve Problems
Negotiate to Resolve Problems
Never Underestimate the Importance of "Face"
In Summation

Chapter 7. Emergency, Crisis, Help!
Help! Events That Trigger Crises
Crisis Management, Step-by-Step
Short-Term Solutions
 Control Your Emotions
 Remove Your Child from the Middle
Long Term Planning
 Begin a Program of Self-Study
 Join a Support Group
 Learn About Legal Rights and Responsibilities
 Learn About Special Education
 Get Advocacy Information From Your State
 Request Your Child's Records
 Get a Comprehensive Evaluation
Examine Your Beliefs
In Summation

Section Three. The Parent as Expert
Chapter 8. Evaluations and Your Child's Disability
Get a Comprehensive Evaluation
Finding Evaluators
Understanding Test Results
Limitations of School Evaluations
 Learn About the Disability
 Learn from Organizations
 Learn from the Treatment Team
 Learn from School Personnel
Effective Educational Practices
In Summation

Chapter 9. The File: Do It Right!
Document Management System
 Gather Information About Your Child
 Make a Master Provider List
 Request Your Child's Records
 Request Your Child's Educational Records
Organizing the Master File
 Step 1: Date All Documents
 Step 2: File All Documents in a Three-Ring Notebook
 Step 3: Read the Master File for the "Big Picture"
Create Your List of Documents
In Summation

Chapter 10. Tests and Measurements 101
Measuring Growth: Rules, Yardsticks, and Other Tools
Measuring Educational Change: Test Scores
Learning About Evaluations
Overcoming Fears
Learning What Tests Measure
Statistics 101
 You Use Statistics to Measure and Describe Relationships
 You Use Statistics to Make Decisions
 You Use Statistics to Measure Change
 You Use Statistics to Compare
The Bell Curve: A Powerful Tool
 You Can Make Comparisons
 You Can Measure Effectiveness
 You Can Measure Progress
 You Can Compare Scores
 You Can Compare One Child to Many
 You Can Compare Groups
Learning How Test Scores Are Reported
 Learning About Raw Scores
 Learning About Scale Scores
 Learning About Composite Scores
 Learning About Subtest Scatter
In Summation

Chapter 11. Tests and Measurements 102
Learning About Composite Scores
When Apparent Progress Means Actual Regression
Using Pre- and Post-Testing to Measure Progress
Norm-Referenced and Criterion-Referenced Tests
 Learning About Standard Deviations
 Learning About Standard Scores
 Learning About Subtest Scores
Test Categories and Descriptions
 Intellectual or Cognitive Tests
 Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-III)
 Stanford-Binet, Fourth Edition (SB:IV)
 Educational Achievement Tests
 Screening Tests
 Comprehensive Achievement Tests
 Single-Subject Tests
 Personality Tests
 Behavior Rating Scales
 Speech and Language Tests
 Neuropsychological Tests
Charting Test Scores
Creating Progress and Regression Charts
Using Test Scores in Your Child's IEPs
Your Homework Assignment
In Summation

Chapter 12. SMART IEPs
Learning About SMART IEPs
 Action Words
 Realistic and Relevant
Smart IEP Goals and Objectives
Present Levels of Performance
Definitions: Goals, Objectives and Benchmarks
Legal Definitions: Goals, Objectives and Benchmarks
Appropriate Goals and Objectives
  Acquiring Basic Skills
 Measuring and Monitoring the Child's Progress
 Advising the Parent About Child's Progress
 Reviewing and Revising the Child's IEP
Learning to Write SMART Goals and Objectives
The SMART Weight Loss Program
 Present Levels
 Measurable Goals and Objectives
 Revising Your Goals and Objectives
 Using Objective Data
 Making Decisions
 Measuring Progress
Mike Trains for the Fitness Test
Kevin Learns to Type
Megan Learns to Read
Non-Goals: Attitude Statements
Strategies: How to Deal with Attitude Goals
Non-Goals: States of Being
Homework Assignment #1: You Learn to Write Goals
Homework Assignment #2: You Learn to Write SMART IEP Goals and Objectives
In Summation

Section Four. Special Education Law
Chapter 13. IDEA - Overview and Legislative Intent
Legislative Intent
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997
In Summation

Chapter 14. IDEA - Section 1400: Findings and Purposes
20 U.S.C. § 1400 Congressional Findings and Purpose
Wrightslaw Discussion of Findings and Purposes
In Summation

Chapter 15. IDEA - Section 1401: Definitions
20 U.S.C. § 1401 Definitions
Wrightslaw Discussion of Definitions
 Eligibility for Special Education
 Special Education
 Related services
 Supplemental aids and services
 Specific learning disability
 Assistive technology
 Transition services
 Free appropriate public education (FAPE)
In Summation

Chapter 16. IDEA - Section 1412: Child Find, LRE, ESY, Child Find, Private Placement, Assessments
20 U.S.C. § 1412 - State Eligibility
Wrightslaw Discussion of Child Find, Least Restrictive Environment, Private Placements, State and District Assessments
 Extended School Year
 Child Find
 Least Restrictive Environment
 Testing and Evaluation Materials
 High Stakes Testing
In Summation

Chapter 17. IDEA - Section 1414: Evaluations, Eligibility, IEPs and Placement
20 U.S.C. § 1414(a) Evaluations and Reevaluations.
Wrightslaw Discussion of Evaluations and Eligibility
20 U.S.C. § 1414(d) Individualized Education Programs.
Wrightslaw Discussion of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Placement
 Definition of the IEP
 Required Components of the IEP
 Transition Planning in Your Child's IEP
 Members of Your Child's IEP Team
 Behavior Issues in Your Child's IEP
 Reviewing and Revising Your Child's IEP
 Making Decisions About Your Child's Placement
 Parent Input in the IEP
In Summation

Chapter 18. IDEA - Section 1415: Procedural Safeguards, Due Process, Discipline, etc.
20 U.S.C. § 1415 - Procedural Safeguards
Wrightslaw Discussion of Prior Written Notice and Procedural Safeguards Notice
 Examine Records
 Prior Written Notice
 Complaint Resolution: Mediation, Due Process Hearings, Appeals to Court
20 U.S.C. § 1415(e), (f), (g), (h), and (i) - Mediation, Due Process Hearings, Appeals to Court
Wrightslaw Discussion of Mediation, Due Process Hearings, Appeals to Court, Attorneys' Fees
 Preparing for Mediation
 Statute of Limitations
 Due Process Hearings
 Hearing Officers and Administrative Law Judges
 "Stay Put"
 Attorneys' fees
 Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
 Successful Outcomes
20 U.S.C. § 1415(k) Placement in Alternative Educational Setting
Wrightslaw Discussion of Discipline
 Suspensions for up to 10 days
 Suspensions for more than 10 days
 Behavioral Intervention Plan
 School Must Provide FAPE
 Put Your Concerns in Writing
 Medications and Controlled Substances
20 U.S.C. § 1415 (m) Transfer of Parental Rights at Age of Majority.
Wrightslaw Discussion of Age of Majority

Chapter 19. Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act
Wrightslaw Discussion of Section 504, ADA and IDEA
 Protection from Discrimination
 Accommodations and Modifications
 Confusion about Benefits and Rights
 Access v. Educational Benefit
 Procedural Safeguards
 Impartial Hearings
 Section 504, ADA, High Stakes Testing, Statewide Assessments
In Summation

Chapter 20. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
 Educational Records
 Right to Inspect and Review Educational Records
 Destruction of Records
 Test Protocols and Answer Booklets
In Summation

Section Five. Tactics and Strategies
Chapter 21. The Rules of Adverse Assumptions
The Rules of Adverse Assumptions
 Assumption 1: There will be a due process hearing.
 Assumption 2: You will initiate the due process hearing.
 Assumption 3: All school personnel will testify against you.
 Assumption 4: The school personnel you thought could be forced to make damaging admissions will not  do so.
 Assumption 5: Your Hearing Officer or Administrative Law Judge is biased against parents of children with  disabilities.
 Assumption 6: You cannot testify at your due process hearing.
To Avoid Conflict, Prepare for Conflict
 Proof and Evidence
 Your Evidence
 Their Evidence
 Your Witnesses
Simple Themes Win Cases
In Summation

Chapter 22. Creating Paper Trails
Why Document?
Logs, Journals and Calendars
 Your Contact Log
 Your Journal
 Your Calendar
How to Use a Problem Report
Handling Telephone Calls
In Summation

Chapter 23. How to Write Good Evidence Letters
Why You Write Letters
 To Request Information
 To Request Action
 To Provide Information or Describe an Event
 To Decline a Request
 To Express Appreciation
Strategies: Writing Good Letters
 Easy Reading
 Getting to the Point
 Speaking to the Recipient
 Being Courteous
 Making It Easy to Follow
 Prompting the Reader to Act
 Ending with Courtesy
 Giving Contact Information
Letter Writing Pitfalls
Using Strategies in Letters
 Remember the Rules of Adverse Assumptions
 Visualize the Stranger
 Make Your Problem Unique
 Edit and Revise
 Make a Good First Impression
 Speak to the Reader
In Summation

Chapter 24. Writing the "Letter to the Stranger"
The Blame Approach
Impact of Angry Letters
The Story-Telling Approach
 Using Persuasive Strategies in Letters
 Avoiding the "Sympathy Factor "
 Making a Good Impression
Writing "Letters to the Stranger"
 To Negotiate
 To Persuade
Do Not Send Certified Letters
Strategies: Hand-Deliver Letters
In Summation

Chapter 25. Preparing for Meetings: Taking Control
You are a Negotiator
Five Rules for Successful Problem Solving
 Rule 1: Know what you want.
 Rule 2. Do not blame or criticize.
 Rule 3. Protect the parent-school relationship.
 Rule 4. Seek win-win solutions to problems.
 Rule 5. Understand the school district's position.
Preparing for School Meetings
 Use the Pre-Meeting Worksheet
 Organize and Review the File
 Use a Parent Agenda
 Handouts and Charts
Image and Presentation
In Summation

Chapter 26. Meeting Strategies: Maintaining Control
School Meeting Anxiety
 Both Parents Attend Meetings
 Do Not Go Alone
 Tape Recording Meetings
Taping Problems
Meeting Dynamics
Common Meeting Problems
 "We Can't Do That"
 "The Law Does Not Allow Us to Do That"
 Dealing with the "Draft IEP"
 When the Meeting Ends Without Resolution
Strategies to Use in Disputes
Use the Problem-Resolution Worksheet
Post-meeting Strategies
 Your Recollections
 Your Thank You Letter
In Summation

Chapter 27. In Summation

Appendix A. Appendix A to 34 C.F.R. Part 300
Appendix B. Your Rights and Responsibilities Under IDEA
Appendix C. Frequently Asked Questions About Special Education, from NICHCY
Appendix D. State Departments of Special Education
Appendix E. Parent Training Information Centers by State
Appendix F. Disabilities Organizations and Information Groups
Appendix G. Legal and Advocacy Resources
Appendix H. Free Publications
Appendix I. Sample Letters to the School
Appendix J. Glossary of Special Education and Legal Terms
Appendix K. Glossary of Assessment Terms


Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy - The Special Education Survival Guide will be published by Harbor House Law Press in the Fall of 2001.

For more information about Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, please visit the FETA Page at Wrightslaw

Subscribers to The Special Ed Advocate newsletter will receive a special pre-publication offer when the book is sent to the printer.

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