Thursday, January 27, 2005

Time to tilt at a windmill or two.

(Don Quixote music in background).. well actually it happens to be Alan Parsons Project. I have an eclectic taste in music, from Frank Sinatra to Sarah Vaughn to the Allman brothers to the Foo Fighters. Go figure. (Donning helmet for shelling to follow, I'm sure.)

Ok, the truth in blogging spot commencing - I am Republican. If you disagree, great. Comment to my little blogspot and I'll respond. I might even email you and we could set up some kind of discourse, even if it is only an exercise in debate for debates sake. But try not to flame. Not only is it just plain old tacky, but it lends accuracy to the statement that ours is a country not of people, or even opinions, but sound bites. --- End of disclaimer.

Now that's said... I was reading a dear lady's blog today. Someone whom, although I don't know real well, I have come to appreciate her charming wit, her bright personality, and blatant honesty. One of her children has autism coupled with hearing loss. Mother Mary and Joseph too, that in and of itself is enough in my book to be submitted for sainthood.

But on top of this, she has been given an IEP. (I'm guessing here but I bet that stands for Individual Education Plan). By clicking on the link I provided, you will find out that I looked it up like a good boy. That way I don't get confused as a blathering idiot - rather than the motley fool I really am :)

I noticed that there was a bunch of useful stuff there, and hope that some may be of interest to the aforementioned lady. This is a plan, created I assume by the education system in cahoots with the child's doctors and parents , to try and meet the requirements to facilitate daily living and, hopefully and prayerfully, eventual integration into society and a productive life.

But, alas, it appears that the school system in question is doing as little as possible. Communication between the lady and the teacher of her child is becoming non-existent save for some daily notes. (Read all about it HERE).

What gets me is that she has been told that it will be her responsibility to be an advocate for the child. DUH! It was always (and still is) my belief that the role of PARENT inherently gave you the rights AND RESPONSIBILITIES of advocate. Sometimes, the ability of bureaucracy to state the obvious staggers the imagination.

I was an educator once. A full-fleged member of both the Oregon Education Association and the American Education Association. I taught inmates at one of our local state prisons. Because of that, I was also a member of the Oregon Criminal Justice Association among other such associations.

The list of things challenging the education system as a whole are mind-boggling. Lack of discipline. Lack of parental support. Lack of funding. Lack of interest by the public as a whole. There was a time when the education system was one of the sacred cows that could not be touched, and yet here we are, muddling forth as we always have. Do not for a minute assume that I am against teachers, individually or as a whole. They do a job that, quite frankly, makes my prior paltry dalliance in the education field look pale by comparison. They do it with no money, little help, less support.

Now that that little tidbit is out of the way, however, I need to continue with a thought. The average private school in the Portland Metropolitan area runs just about $4000 for the average student. As of the 2001-2002 school year, the Portland school system spends about $8300 per pupil. Why? No one yet has successfully explained that one to me. There is no difference with the statutory testing requirements, so quite frankly, I am baffled.

Now lets mix in the special needs children like the young man above. I can guarantee that no person, democratic or republican would willingly stand in the way of his getting a fair shake in life. If the private schools can manage just fine on what they get, then why can't the public ones do it? And then, with the surplus left behind, we can tailor special needs systems to augment the difference of specialties that children in these circumstances need.

So there. With that, I now mount my steed, with Sancho Panza right behind, getting ready to tilt at the windmill of the public school system. And to be honest, right now I can't think of anyone more hard-headed to do it, so it might as well be me. Well, maybe tomorrow. Dulcinea is getting pissed I am still typing :)

Until our next.......


Sharon said...

*thunderous applause resounding from the East Coast*

Very eloquent! I am impressed as always by your force of argument and skillful writing. It is wonderful to have you on my side!

Thank you so much for the nod in my direction and I will be doing the same for you today. I seem to have touched on an issue that is facing many, and I am fascinated by the responses thus far.
I think I'll send you an email so as not to "blog on your blog", but thank you again. Thank you.

Suzanne said...

Nicely written. I believe there are some guidelines and programs out there, but it takes people to carry them out. You listed many factors on your post regarding the challenges educators face which i'm sure lead to the demise of their interest or motivation to perform. It's only natural,...and unfortunately ..a very viscious circle.