Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
At Wrightslaw, our goals are to help you gain the information and skills you need navigate the confusing world of special education.
How to get an appropriate education and avoid due process; encouraging
parents to be adversarial; teachers and low expectations; advice about
law school; advice about moving; objections to Boot Camp as "militant";
Wrightslaw books; Scratch n' Dent Sale; Wrightslaw programs in Sacramento
& Grand Rapids.
1. Message from the Editor
We get thousands
of questions from readers. Some of those questions come up again and again
- and from time to time, we answer them in the newsletter. Here is our
latest crop of questions, along with our answers.
2. Success Story: How We Got an Appropriate Education and Avoided Due Process
I wanted to let you know about the difference you are making in the lives of disabled children. After struggling with our school district for over a year to provide services to my disabled child without success, I knew I had to educate myself on the law.
First, I read Wrightslaw: Special Education Law so I would know the "facts". Then, I got MAD at the school district when I realized that the "facts" told me they were not following federal law.
Then, I read From Emotions to Advocacy and quit being mad and starting planning my strategies. IT WORKED - my child was placed on an IEP and I was SO HAPPY - at first.
Then, I attended one of your training seminars and not only LEARNED how to use a bell curve but also UNDERSTOOD the significance of the bell curve.
This eye opener was SO PROFOUND that I broke into tears when I realized that my disabled child wasn't really making any progress at all - in fact, she had REGRESSED during a two year period in which the school stated she was making "adequate progress."
Within 10 days of your seminar, I filed for due process. I was prepared because you told me to BE PREPARED in your articles and books and I listened and followed your advice.
The good news is, we never had to go through due process because the school district was NOW willing to come to the IEP table to resolve this matter.
Had I not had the knowledge to present the facts to the school district, they would never have come to the IEP table. Because you educated me, my daughter now has "a free and APPROPRIATE education."
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
3. Why Do You Encourage Parents to Be Adversarial?
Why do advocate sites like yours encourage parents to create adversarial relationships with schools rather than cooperative ones?
answers: If you came to one of our advocacy
training programs, you would learn that we advise parents to build
strong relationships with school personnel. We advise parents to use their
emotions as a source of energy, and not get bogged down in anger, blame
or recriminations. (See the Success Story above)
Is special education law a lucrative business for attorneys?
Pam answers: No, representing parents in special education litigation is not especially lucrative. As you know, most parents are financially strapped. They are often fighting battles on many fronts - with insurance companies, health care providers, government programs - and schools.
school districts is more lucrative because school attorney fees are paid
by tax dollars and insurance companies. Again, I invite you to attend
a Wrightslaw legal
& advocacy program.
4. Why Do You Say Public School Teachers Have Low Expectations?
I am a special education teacher in a public school. I am concerned about your statement that we do not have high expectations. My expectations are not any different than if I worked in a private school.
Pete answers: In my professional experiences with special ed teachers and administrators in public school systems, I have found that most have low expectations for children with disabilities. They testify that a child has not made progress because:
"Mr. Wright, you need to understand that Johnny has a learning disability, that's why he has not learned how to read."
5. Do You Have Advice About Law School?
I am interested in law school but am having difficulty finding a school that focuses on education law or special education law. Can you help?
answers: Find a law school that has a good trial advocacy program.
Become a good trial lawyer first.
6. Do You Have Advice About Moving?
My son is in kindergarten and receiving great special ed services. We are moving because of my husband's job. How can I find out how different states compare?
answers: During consultations with parents and attorneys around
the country, I've found that special ed problems are nearly always the
same, even when one state is supposedly "better" than another.
I've found that differences in quality within states is very high, just
as it is in schools within the same jurisdiction. The real issue is whether
or not a school . . . read
rest of Pete's answer
7. "Boot Camp" is Militant and Adversarial
The term "boot camp" is a a very militant image. Your image is already tainted as adversarial toward public schools. Tsk, tsk...
Tsk, tsk? "Boot Camp" is a "very militant image"?
Before you make assumptions, you should attend a Boot
Camp or advocacy training program.
By the end
of the second day, they (and we) were exhausted. I wrote an
article about that weekend, Advocacy
Training or Advocacy Boot Camp?
Most of my family are teachers. My grandmother taught school on an Indian reservation in the early 1900s. My mother is a retired public school teacher. My sister is a public school teacher. I know what teaching involves.
While I am
sympathetic to teachers, I get annoyed with teachers who complain that
their lives are so hard. I cannot think of any other field where members
take off for 2-3 months in the summer, with pay, and have long breaks
during the year, with pay. Maybe it's time to count one's blessings.
8. What People Are Saying About Wrightslaw Books
Special Education Law, Standard Edition - $29.95
must have book for anyone who works in Special Education. Margaret
J. Kay, Ed.D. Psychologist
No Child Left Behind with NCLB CD ROM - $29.95
& Exam Copies
Copies - Teachers in colleges
and universities around the country use Wrightslaw books in their
education, special education and special education law courses. Learn
9. Join Pete & Pam Wright for an Advocacy Training Program: CA, MI
a marvelous conference! I often leave sped presentations angry and/or
guilty because of all the things that have been done or not done. This
time I left encouraged, inspired and armed!"
10. Subscription & Contact Info
Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education
legal and advocacy issues, cases, and tactics and strategies. Subscribers
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