First Entry July 1st 2015
After working in Public Ed here in Texas and within the non-profit sector from California to Washington DC these past 15 years; one cannot erase the questions and experiences coming from families facing a special need. To clarify 'special need', I'm referring to the challenges families are addressing due to a diagnosis in a child, teen or young adult which affects their emotional, physical and intellectual ability. I'm not one to say disability friends; for too often that is all we see...a disability. We must remember first and foremost that these are beautiful, loving, happy, creative Americans with families that see and value their beauty on a daily bases. This is not a project meant to highlight the "burden" of a diagnosis, but rather a project that wants to help CELEBRATE the lives of both families and individuals facing this reality.
This is also a project that wants to find out answers. Here in TX we've seen drastic changes in Public Ed. Whether it be classroom sizes, the pace of scope and sequence, the unbalanced staffing ratios, funding cuts etc; such challenges seem to consistently increase with each new year. Thus the structure of our proactive approach to Education is becoming less and less from my experience.
Now put that in the context of Special Education (SPED). Keep in mind SPED encompasses students in need of additional academic, emotional and at times physical accommodations for the least restrictive opportunity of their education. Thus it's clear with that explanation the level of need for these wonderful students in SPED is daunting when such cuts are happening.
I want to find out is it just TX? Are we a state that is no longer prioritizing it's Education, specifically it’s Special Education programming? I don't know friends. I’m looking for answers but all I see is political red tape when best addressing State Educational needs.
I do know and see that Teachers, Specialists, LSSPs, TAs and Districts are working their tails off in trying to meet these challenges. I know of Admin voicing their concerns to their State Reps and Lobbying groups at the State Capital. I know of PTO organizations donating thousands and thousands of dollars to meet the gap. I know of families bending over backwards 24/7 in providing the very best education for their children. These things I have seen. But what I'm not seeing is a change in our fundamental approach and policy to Special Education in America at both the State and Federal levels. Honestly I hope I'm wrong. I hope the answers are there but I'm just not reading the right articles or privy to all the info. But damn I want to find out!
Lastly this project is about networking families, students, teachers, administrators and legislature. Many times one can become very isolated when working with an amazing kiddo that is also facing a 24 hour care scenario. That spans from complete physical dependency to appropriate, safe social interactions, to communication, to work opportunities etc. Until one literally walks in the shoes of a parent or family member which is the primary care giver, you can never truly TRULY understand the emotional, financial and physical challenges they face. Though I work some 50 hours a week within a classroom setting it is nothing compared to their work load.
We must prioritize, I must prioritize reaching out and putting ourselves out there for children and their families, simply because it is the right thing to do. We can help that process. I think we sincerely can.
Okay well that's the focus right now. This was a lot to write but for a first time blogger HA it felt good.
All the best and we'll see ya on the road friends. Sincerely- Konrad/PPJ