Friday, October 5, 2007

Parents of Children with Special Needs

Today, I had a wonderful 2 1/2 hour conversation with some parents of children with special needs. It was a crash course for me in all the challenges of the current system and what needs to be put into place so all children can be encouraged to see themselves as learners and reach their full potential. It is a world I know a little bit about through my own family, but the issues are quite complex.

However, in only 2.5 hours, I heard concrete suggestions of what could be done to stretch the educational dollar further, to meet specific needs of individual children. This is exactly the kind of collaborative approach I believe should be adopted for all educational issues. The expertise is out there. The parents are reasonable, knowledgeable and willing to help schools. The resources can be better allocated. We can think outside the box and find new, innovative approaches.

Of course, funding needs to be increased, but as I've said, over and over again...what can we do until the funding comes? What do we know? What do we need to know? Where can we pool our resources to benefit more children? How can we bridge the gaps and provide more support for families?

I am lucky to have such open discussion with people...and intend to preserve that (tooth and nail) if I'm elected. The comment came out: "It's great to be able to talk to you this way, before you get in, because once you're in the blue building, we won't be able to talk this freely." That's a sad statement and one I intend to disprove.

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