Where Are the Parents?
Publication Date: 2004-02-29
Here's a hard-hitting commentary on Congressional stonewalling on IDEA.
Perhaps this will give Congress some context. Perhaps this will finally enable Congress to understand that any contact whatsoever from the parent of a child with disabilities should never be trivialized or disregarded. Behind each parent?s letter or phone call are thousands of others who are quite literally fighting a constant battle for their family?s survival.
And yet, when those parents do manage to write or call, their extraordinary efforts are often met with the scorn and derision evident in that "Dear Republican Colleague" memo.
It is not unusual for OCLB to receive very, very brief ?Thank You!? notes from parents. The time stamp on these e-mails is typically the wee hours of the morning. That?s when these parents have a few seconds to breathe, to look beyond their immediate, and often crisis, situations at the broader picture, to wish they had more time & energy for advocacy, and to applaud those who are temporarily able to carry the torch.
Ask any parent of a child with disabilities their greatest stressors. Invariably, the answer is not their child, but the systems with which they must deal in order ensure their child?s safety, security, and survival. Why must that also include Congress?
The fire that is OCLB was ignited by that incendiary "Dear Republican Colleague" memo. It is fueled by the fear, the anguish, and the rage of the parents. It will not be doused by empty rhetoric, meaningless compromise, or false partnership.
This fire can only be extinguished by Congress recognizing and acting upon the truth:
* IDEA ?97 does not need to be revised. It needs to be enforced.
* The proposed revisions to IDEA will not result in improved educational outcomes for students with disabilities.
* The reasons given for the proposed revisions to IDEA are not based on solid data, but on unsubstantiated anecdotal evidence.
* The driving factors behind each and every proposed revision are administrative convenience and performance anxiety.
* Children with disabilities are being sold out in the name of compromise.
We, as parents of children with disabilities ourselves, realize that it is extremely difficult to find the time and the energy to go above & beyond the call of an already extraordinarily challenging duty. We appreciate every e-mail, every letter to Congress, and every phone call ? because we know what it cost you.
So, the next time you?re up at 2:00am visiting Our Children Left Behind, let us know how you?re doing ? and how we?re doing. We love to hear from you!
Debi Lewis, today's email@example.com
?2004 Our Children Left Behind.
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