Some of my best advocacy results were in my own school system.
- I know the personalities.
- I know the programs.
- I know the policies and procedures.
- I know the problems.
- I know the strengths.
- I know the gatekeepers.
- I know the administrators and many of the educators.
However, as my youngest daughter always says, “It doesn’t matter who you know; what matters is who knows you.”
What about retaliation?….
Fear of Retaliation
I understand fully that some folks may be uncomfortable about advocating in the same school or school system that their children attend. However, my experience is that my child never suffered from retaliation because of my advocacy efforts within her school system.
I believe the reason is that the folks –
- knew me
- knew that I knew the law
- knew that I knew my rights
- knew that I was not afraid to challenge any efforts to retaliate against my child.
They knew that I was a very good and successful advocate for my own child and for others.
In short, they were afraid of what I might do if there was any hint of retaliation towards my child.
My Goal: Popularity or an Appropriate Education?
Was I popular? Did I win any awards for best parent? Of course not. That was not my goal. My goal was to make sure my child would be ready for “further education, employment, and independent living.”
Did I achieve my goal? You decide.
- My child is now an adult. She is a nurse and works in the Information Technology department of a large local medical facility.
- She has a national certification for the electronic medical records software she supports.
- She is happily married, living with her husband and two beautiful children less than a mile from where she grew up in a house they designed and built.
- She is a multi-year class champion as a sports car driver.
I am proud of her success as an adult. She exemplifies what a child with a severe disability can achieve when provided with an appropriate education that fully prepared her for “further education, employment, and independent living.”
Do I now care whether the local school administrators and teachers liked my advocacy work in their school system? Of course not. She is worth every enemy I made.
Conflict of Interest?
I see no “conflicts” of interest by advocating in my own school system. I have a stake in keeping my foot in the door, even though my daughter graduated several years ago. These interests include:
- Being a taxpayer. My dollars fund the schools.
- Being a stakeholder. I am interested in being a watchdog for other special needs children. These children are my future.
I do not believe that advocating in your own school system is a conflict of interest. It may be uncomfortable – for you and for those employed at school. But, my way is not the only way. As long as we continue being advocates, it matters little which way we choose to do so.