The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
June 23, 2004

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ISSN: 1538-3202
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In this Issue

Message from the Editor

How We Got an Appropriate Education & Avoided Due Process

Why Do You Encourage Parents to Be Adversarial?

Why Do You Say Teachers Have Low Expectations?

Advice About Law School?

Advice for Families Who Are Moving

Boot Camp Militant?

What People Are Saying About Wrightslaw Books

Scratch n' Dent Sale

Wrightslaw Programs: Sacramento & Grand Rapids, MI (July, 2004)

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At Wrightslaw, our goals are to help you gain the information and skills you need navigate the confusing world of special education.

Highlights: 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.

Cool Quote: "Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them." - Lady Bird Johnson

Wrightslaw is ranked #1 in education law, special education law and special education advocacy. (2004 Alexa rankings)

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.

But first, we want to share a "Success Story."

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.

How We Got an Appropriate Education & Avoided Due Process

Read more Success Stories

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?

Pam 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)

BUT conflict is a normal component of all human relationships. We urge parents and school personnel to learn how to negotiate and use strategies to resolve conflict.

Because our advocacy approach is not "in your face," many school districts encourage their staff and parents to attend our programs, allow us to do training programs in schools, and even pay for our books and our speaking fees.

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.

Representing 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.

Learn about advocacy.

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."

In my personal experiences with special ed teachers and administrators, I have found . . . read rest of Pete's answer.

Read more FAQs

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?

Pete answers: Find a law school that has a good trial advocacy program. Become a good trial lawyer first.

Get involved in all types of litigation - criminal defense, personal injury, domestic relations, medical malpractice and civil rights.
This will help you learn the skills you need to handle a spec ed case.

Special ed cases are a mixture of a divorce custody alimony child support fight, merged with a medical malpractice wrongful death case - intense emotions, feelings of betrayal, and battles between expert witnesses.

Read articles in the Law Library

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?

Pete 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

More Frequently Asked Questions

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...

Pam answers: Tsk, tsk? "Boot Camp" is a "very militant image"? Before you make assumptions, you should attend a Boot Camp or advocacy training program.

We coined the term "Boot Camp" after a two day program in Colorado. The Friday program was in Colorado Springs, the Saturday program was in Denver. Most Colorado Springs people planned to attend the Friday program and skip the second day because they didn't want to drive to Denver at night. At the end of the first day, most changed their minds and made the trip.

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?

As to your statement that our image is "tainted as adversarial toward public school." I disagree with that as well. (See my answer to Why Do You Encourage Parents to Be Adversarial above.)

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.

Pete adds: Unlike other professions and trades (i.e., doctors, lawyers, plumbers, electricians, barbers), there are no universally established minimum standards of practice or standards of care for which, if broken, educators can be held liable in tort law. Until minimum standards are established, education will not be a true profession. (See Why Education Experts Resist Effective Practices (and What It Would Take to Make Education More Like Medicine) by Douglas Carnine)

8. What People Are Saying About Wrightslaw Books

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, Standard Edition - $29.95

Makes you feel you have an attorney at the IEP table with you!" - Janie Bowman, Olympia, WA

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, Deluxe Edition with Legal Companion CD-ROM - $39.95

A must have book for anyone who works in Special Education.” Margaret J. Kay, Ed.D. Psychologist

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy - The Special Education Survival Guide - $19.95 - $10 Off

"If I were asked to choose just one book to help me learn advocacy skills, this is it!" - Support for Families of Children with Disabilities

"A superb reference . . . very highly recommended reading for all parents of children in need of adapted or special education services ... " Midwest Book Review

Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind with NCLB CD ROM - $29.95

Does an amazing job of making this law understandable and accessible to lay folk, like me.” — Sandra Rief, master teacher and author of How to Reach and Teach ADD/ADHD Children

Internet Orders l Mail, Fax, Phone Orders l Discounts l

Discounts & Exam Copies

Interested in Starting a FETA Group?
The Advocacy Challenge Discount is a 50% discount on bulk purchases of Wrightslaw books.

Exam Copies - Teachers in colleges and universities around the country use Wrightslaw books in their education, special education and special education law courses. Learn more

Scratch-n-Dent Sale: Special Ed Law, From Emotions to Advocacy and No Child Left Behind - $9.95 each - Limited quantities available. Order Now

9. Join Pete & Pam Wright for an Advocacy Training Program: CA, MI

"What 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!"

Join Pete and Pam Wright for a one-day Advocacy Seminar in Michigan or two-day Boot Camp in California. These programs focus on four areas: special education law, rights and responsibilities; tests and measurements to measure progress & regression; SMART IEPs; and an introduction to tactics & strategies for effective advocacy.

July 17-18: Boot Camp, Sacramento, CA- 1st Boot Camp on West Coast!

Sponsored by Families for Early Autism Treatment (FEAT). Download information flyer & registration form.

July 21, 2004: Advocacy Training Program, Grand Rapids, MI.

Sponsored by The Williams Syndrome Association. Download Registration Form

Fall 2004: Programs are scheduled in Indianapolis, IN; Hartford, CT; Virginia Beach, VA. Full schedule

"Your Boot Camp was the most useful CLE I've ever attended. CLEs are notoriously boring and unpleasant. Your program was neither and I learned a lot, even as an experienced practitioner in the field." - Rob Mead, KU Wheat Law Library

If you are interested in bringing Pete and Pam Wright to your community, please read our FAQs about Seminars. (We are scheduling programs for 2005-2006.)

10. 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.

Law Library Seminars & Training
Advocacy Yellow Pages for Kids
No Child Left Behind Free Newsletter
IDEA Reauthorization Newsletter Archives

Contact Info

Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043
Website: https://www.wrightslaw.com
Email: newsletter@wrightslaw.com

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