Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy

The Special Education Survival Guide by Pam Wright & Pete Wright

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Learning About "The School"

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two boys smiling Public schools are the education providers for all children.

Schools are bureaucracies. Bureaucracies are created to fulfill missions.

The Mission of Public Schools

The mission of public schools is to provide students with a standardized education. Standardized educational programs are not individualized, nor are they designed to meet the unique needs of the child with a disability.

Schools are modeled after factories. The principal runs the school building, teachers provide the labor, and children are the raw material. Parents are outsiders.

Power flows from the top. Decisions are often based on economics, tradition, and convenience.

Learning About School Teams

IEP meetingYour child’s team is a small part of a large system.

All school districts have a chain of command. Teachers and parents do not have the authority to make decisions that involve a commitment of resources.

If you have an unusual request, your child’s school team may not have the authority to grant your request.

An invisible administrator may be the person who answers your request.

Learning About Your School District

What do you know about your child’s school? What do you know about your school district?

How are parents of children with disabilities perceived by the teachers at your child’s school? How are parents of children with disabilities viewed in your school district?

Who wields power in your school district?

When you have answers to these questions, you will be able to advocate more effectively for your child.

10 Reason Why Schools Say No!

1. The school does not want to change long-standing procedures.

2. The school does not want to make exceptions to existing policies or practices.

3. The school is afraid of setting a precedent.

4. The school does not have the staff to meet the child’s needs.

5. The staff is not trained to meet the child’s needs.

6. The school does not have a program to meet the child’s needs.

7. The school is committed to their one-size-fits all service delivery models.

8. The school believes the services your child needs are too expensive.

9. The school is overwhelmed by the complexity of your child’s needs.

10. The school does not understand the legal requirement to provide your child with an individualized program.


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