Summer is racing to a foggy ending here in Massachusetts. It seems odd not to be consulting a long list of required paraphernalia for the start of school. But, this year, my daughter is attending a program that is fully funded by private pay residential students and paper, pencils, pens and binders are provided. She will be reading real books, accessing state of the art computers and having the full support and attention of her teachers and clinicians when she needs them. I should be incredibly happy and relieved, and, for my own child, I am. But it also makes me extremely sad when I think of the years we have struggled to find and be able to send her to an appropriate educational program. I can’t help but think about the other children in the public schools who would benefit from the same supportive services and will not receive them whether they have been determined eligible for special education or not. And I feel badly for the families who are struggling to make ends meet and must spend more on school supplies than ever before because our schools cannot provide the basic necessities of the classroom. Education is the foundation of our future. Our children will be the leaders and decision makers who take control of the world. They need and deserve a good education.
As a Special Education Advocate, my job is to help some of our most vulnerable students, like my daughter, succeed. But, more and more of our children are struggling and we are providing them with fewer and fewer supports and opportunities. We can and must find ways to turn our schools around. Let’s start at the beginning. What is a “good” education? What do you want your child to learn at school?