Today I bring you a guest post from Virginia Cunningham, who has written a wonderful post about advocating for special needs children within the school system.
Take it away, Virginia!
Advocating for Education for Special Needs Children
Any given school district will set itself up to provide the optimal amount of attention and education for the highest number of students possible. This means that a school’s budget will be primarily focused on what it can bring to a collective group of kids, and will give little (if any) attention to the needs of specific individuals within their own school system.
This becomes a problem when you have kids who not only learn differently than other students, but who fall into the category of learning disabled or special needs. These kids do not often benefit from the typical classroom setting and require special, individualized attention from teachers and school staff to be able to learn effectively.
Things get messy when you throw in laws that require school districts and systems to provide specialized education for all children who have a need for it. This means that if there is an individual who isn’t being provided with the right kind of learning atmosphere, their parents, by law, have the right to question the school system and pursue a more amicable situation for their child.
This can happen in the form of simple dialogue between parents and school officials, and it can escalate all the way to litigation.
Often times, a school will capitulate with the parents’ request before it gets to that point, but schools are always trying to walk a fine line between their budget and having to provide education for a mass number of children, both specialized and non-specialized.
Sometimes, a school will simply run out of resources, in which case specialized classroom environments and individual attention will be some of the first things to go.
Due in part to the financial state of our public sector and local governments, school districts all across the United States have been forced to undergo deep and sustained budget cuts. This means that in most cases, schools are having a much more difficult time providing specialized education plans for individuals or small groups of kids, though still being required by law to do so.
This means that the climate is ripe for conflict between schools and parents, with no real identifiable solution.
Advocating as the Parent
If you’re the parent of a special needs child, you’re probably the only buffer between your child and whatever the school system wants to do. If you believe that your child isn’t getting an adequate education, regardless of their disabilities, you have a right to question your school district and, if necessary, get legal help from an attorney.
While you never want it to get to the point where you must hire an attorney to get your child the education he or she deserves, it’s a necessary step to take if the school is refusing to do anything about it.
You pay taxes that fund the school system directly, so there’s no question that you have a say and a right to be involved in what goes on there.
Sure, it takes time and energy, but you’re probably one of the only advocates that your child is going to have in the entire system. It’s simply too big and overreaching to voluntarily give individualized attention to any one child.
That’s going to be up to you as the parent.
Virginia Cunningham is a writer for www.northwestpharmacy.com and mother of three. As a mother of a special needs child herself, she often educates other parents of special needs children about special needs law and inclusion.
My blog has been nominated for the Top 25 Moms With Big Families - 2013 list on Circle of Moms!
If you'd like to vote for me, just click on the image below, then scroll down till you see my blog, then click on the vote button. You can vote once a day till the contest ends on 7/24. If I can keep in the top 25 I can get a cool badge to wear proudly on my blog!
ONLY FIVE MORE DAYS OF VOTING, AND I'M LINGERING NEAR THE BOTTOM OF THE TOP 25!
And don't forget Top Mommy Blogs! You know the drill by now. Just click the juggling chick and you've voted. You can vote every day till like, forever.