One Person is a Fruitcake, 50 People are a Powerful Organization!

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Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King

Millions of children attend under performing schools. Millions of parents struggle to get appropriate educational services for their children.

What can you do to help these parents and children? What can you do to improve the lives and educational outcomes for children in your community?

To boost your creative thought processes, we’ll tell you what others are doing…

Loni Allen, an educational advocate from California, began a From Emotions to Advocacy group and has trained hundreds of parents.

Jackie Igafo-Te’o and Deborah Canja from Michigan built a dynamic website that is improving the lives of parents and children in the U.S. and Canada. Check out

Not convinced that a few determined people can make a difference? Still wondering what can one person do?

Mom gathers petitions for school takeover.  CA parents force an overhaul of failing school – using a new state law to force the failing school to be taken over by a charter school operator, the first such move in the country.

If you think that you alone cannot do much to improve your school, you are probably right. You’re more likely to get what you want for your child if you work with other parents.

If you are in a school that is not parent-friendly, this is how you might be perceived.

1 person = A fruitcake
2 people = A fruitcake and a friend
3 people = Troublemakers
5 people = “Let’s have a meeting”
10 people = “We’d better listen”
25 people = “Our dear friends”
50 people = A powerful organization”

If you collaborate with other parents and organizations, you can make a difference. There is strength and power in numbers.

Source: 12 Things Parents (and Teachers) Need to Know About and Expect From Your Schools – and Yourself.  (Originally from Parent Leadership Associates)

  1. Necessity is the mother of invention, and I am the mother of 2 kids with learning challenges. I developed a tool that allows them to study effectively & independently. I put it into book form and have been taking it to groups of parents that need help. Getting an overwhelming response.

  2. Five individuals are trying to start a program to help at-risk children and families get their life back on track. We are unsure as to whether we need to be licensed. We have 1 Master Level Clinical Psychology Graduate, (Veteran Affairs Therapist 8 years), 2 Master Level Education Graduates (school tearcher 12 years), 1 Bachelor Level Social Worker Graduate, and 1 Bachelaor Level School Teacher.

    We incorporated the business as non for profit, but is stuck as to how to proceed. We want to start a business using these skills. Please help!

  3. Nancy

    Wrightslaw actually has information on 504. Private schools that do not accept Federal Funds are not required to follow IDEA laws.

    Even in a public school where Federal Funds are accepted, a 504 offers very little, if any, protection for a child’s educational rights.

  4. Does anybody know of a blog or website that addresses whether a private Catholic school is required by law to follow a student’s 504 plan?

  5. One Person is a Fruitcake, 50 People are a Powerful Organization! by Danny C. They seem to be stalling. You need to reconvene an IEP meeting. Take someone with you like an advocate, family member, or a professional. If this does not produce any results and the school continues to stall, request a prior written notice as to why they are not providing the proper supports, etc for him. If all else fails you can hire an attorney and go to due process. We had to do this but it was our last resort.

  6. I am certain that my 14 year old son, Who has an Aspergers diagnosis and an IEP for Vision impairment is being intimidated by his school’s LEA and the collaborative teachers in his reg ed classes. He regularly reports incidents of his special ed status being discussed in presence of his peers, causing increase in OCD and elevated anxiety levels. Signs of Depression caused by his lack of the social training needed to improve his prospects for forming friends and properly interacting socially w/peers are becoming evident. The school system in spite of his Aspergers dx continues to use delaying tactics to put off the Autism IEP eligibility and subsequent accomodations and support he needs to improve his pragmatic speech and social skills vital to gaining the most appropriate education he can attain. We are at the end of our rope,need help!

  7. Thanks for posting the 1 person is a nutcase….I’ve used that for years.

    My fellow editors at The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism wrote a short how-to piece on forming a Special Education PTA (SEPTA)

    There’s also the link at the National PTA

    Not all schools or districts are members of the national PTA, but you can use the resources above to form your own local group.

    Another organization in Northern California is Parents Helping Parents.

    You might want to use this model as well.

  8. Melissa, Many schools have a PTA. Work within that to start a Special Ed PTA. It is recognized by the PTA organization and helps prevent gripe sessions because it includes teachers. It may take a skillful hand at the helm initially, to prevent the us vs. them syndrome. Once that obstacle is crossed, it can become a wonderful forum for exchange of information, brainstorming, creative approaches, etc. Since many schools will sponsor PTA, the district is more open to ideas for improvement that may come. It becomes that win-win that is so empowering for the entire team.

  9. It was important for my wife and me to stay focused and not allow parent support meetings to become a compaint session, no matter how tempting. When we acted like a victim, our results were that of a victim. School staff tells us what can’t be done. Stay focused on what can be done.

    Once we began truely being advocates, the large obstacles became stepping stones to success. Note: success and winning every argument are two diferent things.

    To date, our child is a successful college student. My wife and I have founded a social skills camp that offers one resource that was not availabe for my child in critical developmental years.

    Reading From Emotions to Advocacy was a great investment of time.

  10. Melissa it is frowned upon everywhere! Start attending advocate trainings or PTI trainings offered in your state. It is a great way to network with other parents having the same issues you may be having.

  11. It is tough Melissa. I am in the position of working in special education and having a special needs child. I will tell you when I graduated and began working as a speech pathologist in a neighboring district, well, the sped people suddenly stepped a little more seemed to me anyway. I think the key is knowledge. My son’s school assumed rightly that I now knew the inner workings of the IEP process. I now ask for drafts of everything at least a week in advance. And it hasn’t been a hostile situation at all. I am friends with his speech therapist. It is still hard though. I feel constantly aware of the idea of being branded a trouble maker, so tread carefully. My son’s school had an ‘information’ group (aka advocacy group) and would send home the announcements with homework. Maybe you could try something like that. Good luck!

  12. I live in a state where conflict and speaking up is frowned upon. Our State has only had 3 Due Process hearings in the past 8 years – I was almost the 4th earlier this year.

    How can I rally parents together – I know I’m not the only one frustrated but my problem is finding the other parents. I’ve considered putting up signs, taking out an ad in the paper and even getting a billboard but I don’t want to get sued. It appears my only option is to set up a non-profit organization to try and help. As a mom of 2 special needs kids this seems a bit overwhelming. Any ideas?

    FYI – Support groups – parents are frustrated but don’t want to rock the boat. I’ve filed State Complaints and even Due Process. Things magically resolve with the state complaints and/or all issues not considered. DP resolved 1 week prior to hearing – very sad

  13. “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to him-self. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

    George Bernard Shaw

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