I was accused today of being militant for my child's rights in the school system. This was, interestingly, after their rights had been seriously and legally encroached on.
Maybe I am hyper-aggressive for my child's rights. Maybe it's for good reason. "My name is Tiffany, I am a former teacher...it's been 6 years since my last job..." No, just kidding, but sometimes it's as good an excuse as any to see monsters in the shadows.
I was actually an inclusion teacher, to boot. I have seen teachers bump parents into "suggesting" options for their child, that they came in 180 degrees from wanting. I have seen teachers leverage with fear so they don't actually SAY that they don't want a certain kid in certain places, but they were, I assure you, in charge of the direction that a meeting went in. I admit, that I have actually done it myself. I am confident when I say that I never did it without the child's best interest in mind, but I have seen teachers do it for less than noble reasons, too.
Please excuse me if I go in to every single IEP (Individualized Education Plan) IN my fighting stance. I have seen the worst. I have been in the teacher's place. I have been in the parents' place. I have had teachers try to bump me from my plans to insist on the least restrictive environment for my child. I have had fear put to leverage on me. I have almost tabled several meetings. It is my right to stop a meeting when it is not going in the direction that I want...so that I can regroup and come back with proof, with an advocate, or with an advisor.
I have been pleasantly surprised with Elise's new school. I have not had to fight for most of the things that I wanted...that I had to fight for tooth-and-nail for in other settings. I cannot tell you how disconcerting it is to have had things handed to me on a silver platter that I had to throw my weight around for in the past. It is a change I certainly welcome.
Although right now I am having an easy moment, do not think that I have relaxed my vigilance. Do not think that I will ever allow the IDEA to be breached while I am on the lookout. I know that it is a human desire to use the EASY button in life...and I know that educators are equally inclined to use it!
If you are a teacher, please understand that it is not YOU I am fighting. Please know that I respect you. Please understand that YOU handle children's opportunities, and your decisions that you make while you are craving an easy year, will have far-reaching effects on these students' futures.
If you are a parent, I beg you, please keep the paranoia. PLEASE read the million page packet of parental rights you are offered at every meeting. Keep at least one, and READ THE DARN THING FROM FRONT TO BACK AT LEAST ONCE!!!! Please, you are the guardian of your precious child's destiny, do not allow one [lazy, selfish, tired, harried, mean-spirited, people-pleasing...you pick one] person sacrifice future options. I mean it. An open future is the biggest gift that you can give your child, special or typical.
Thanks for listening to me rant, but please understand that this militant, freaky, passionate, paranoid tirade is based in wanting and demanding the best, from all the parties involved. Honest.