Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
A new school year is beginning. If you are the parent of a child with special educational needs, it's time for a refresher course in effective advocacy. If you are a teacher or special ed service provider, you may want to fine-tune your advocacy skills on behalf of your students.
Highlights: Pam's recovery continues, Pete's polishes his cooking skills; are Pete and Pam enemies of public schools; four great things about reading in NCLB; advocacy 101 - documents, letters, paper trails; strategies for success - how to get services by asking questions; free shipping on Wrightslaw books; IDEA Update - battle against low expectations continues; attend a Wrightslaw Advocacy Training Program.
Quote of the Week: "To produce great schools worthy of a great nation, we must also change our hearts and our minds. We must let go of the myths and perceptions about who can learn and who can't." - Rod Paige, Secretary, Department of Education
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1. Pam's Recovery Continues, Pete Polishes His Cooking Skills
Pam continues to recover from her recent surgery. Last week, her doctor did xrays so she could see the new 2 1/2 inch screws and rods in her back. Her bone graft looked like wispy cirrus clouds. She wants to thank the folks who sent "Get Well" emails - your messages have helped to keep her spirits up.
In addition to collecting another set of surgical tools (suture removal), Pete is cleaning house, doing laundry, and cooking great meals from scratch - New Orleans style Gumbo (the roux took two hours!), Crab Imperial, Soft-shelled Crabs and Scallops, Cajun-style Steak.
Pam is fighting the temptation to delay her recovery by a few weeks - Pete is a very good cook.
2. Why Do You Tell Parents to Use NCLB to Fight Public Schools? Are You Against Public Schools?
Although Pam's health is improving every day, she got a little cranky when she read this email from Joe:
"Why are you telling parents how to use No Child Left Behind to fight public schools? Are you against public schools? Do you think people should place their children in private schools or teach them at home?"
Pam gives Joe some facts, then tells him a story about her family history.
Pete tells Joe about the deadly power of low expectations and shares his experiences with schools.
3. Four Great Things About Reading in NCLB
In last week's newsletter, we told you about "4 Great Things About Reading in NCLB" - but we forgot to include a link to the article - here it is -
4. Advocacy 101: Documents, Letters & Paper Trails
Good records are essential to effective advocacy. You can use simple low-tech tools to record your contacts with the school: calendars, logs, journals.
Learn how to keep a log of telephone calls, meetings, important conversations, and correspondence in Advocacy 101: Documents, Records and Paper Trails
Write letters to clarify events and what you were told. When you train yourself to write things down, you are taking important steps to protect your child's interests.
If you have a dispute with the school, your logs and letters are independent evidence that support your memory. Documents that support your position will help you resolve disputes early.
Learn more about letter writing, documentation and paper trails at:
5. Strategies for Success: How I Learned to Get Services by Asking Questions
"When I began to advocate for my daughter, I felt insecure so I supported my requests with tons of documents--articles, reports and recommendations from experts, test results, and information about specialized equipment."
"I was surprised when the "powers that be" would not provide the services and supports I requested for my daughter."
" What was I doing wrong? What did I need to do differently?"
If you are battling school personnel to get services for your child, you need to read this article! Learn about perceptions, "Know-it-all Parents", and simple strategies you can use to improve your relationship with school personnel -- and get services for your child.
6. Free Shipping - Save $$
Our publisher is offering FREE SHIPPING on all books - you save at least $4.95 per order.
7 IDEA Update: Battle Against Low Expectations Continues
The Center for Law and Education reports that the Senate bill to reauthorize the IDEA (S. 1248) will undermine NCLB opportunities for students with disabilities. Kathleen Boundy of CLE sent a letter to members of the Senate HELP Committee and described portions of S. 1248 that may prevent IDEA students from receiving benefits under NCLB.
Ms. Boundy expressed concerns about:
1. Eliminating the right to stay-put during appeals; encouraging disciplinary exclusions, drop-outs, and removals of students who will NOT be counted for purposes of AYP
2. Quashing the affirmative duty to provide FAPE to eligible children so that ALL might learn
3. Failing to connect short-term objectives or benchmarks with accountability under NCLB
4. Unequal and low expectations for students with disabilities, and lower standards for special Ed teachers
5. Preserving IDEA protections
Her letter concludes:
"For this Congress to succumb to a backlash fueled by knowledge that 'these kinds of kids' will make schools 'look badly' because they have, in fact, NOT been effectively taught what all students are expected to know - is unconscionable. The endgame is clear ---not to confront evidence of the performance gap between students with and without disabilities but, once again, to disguise the truth because too many schools will be identified as 'under performing.'"
"Are we really committed to ensuring that these students are provided the opportunities to learn what all students learn? Did we ever really expect 'these kinds of kids' to learn? And does ALL really mean 'ALL'?"
our answer is 'yes,' we need to continue to work together to meet
this challenge by preserving the crucial protections of IDEA,
by using NCLB to identify those schools and districts most in
need of providing effective interventions to
"Before it is too late, please correct S. 1248; preserve the rights of students with disabilities under the IDEA as we move forward to Leave No Child Behind."
Download the full text of this letter:
Your Senators are home in August. The senators have local offices so it is easier to visit and stay in touch with them. Please contact your Senators to express your views on these proposed changes to IDEA.
8. Put Wrightslaw Advocacy Training on Your To-do List
Wrightslaw training programs focus on four areas: special education laws, rights & responsibilities; how to use the bell curve to measure progress & regression; SMART IEPs; and tactics & strategies for effective advocacy.
About ten percent of attendees at our conferences come from other states, often traveling hundreds of miles to learn. Just a thought.
9. Subscription & Contact Info
The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal and advocacy issues, cases, and tactics and strategies. Subscribers receive "alerts" about new cases, events, and special offers on Wrightslaw books.