Thursday, September 30, 2010

If I Had My Druthers ...

A bit of a personal missive this evening (I know - most of them are lately) - some of my readers will know that I have two children with special needs.  Two teenage children, to be exact.  My oldest daughter has a laundry list of labels and diagnoses - mentally challenged, PPD, speech/language disorder ... none of which accurately describe her - and my youngest has a learning disability.

As I walked out of my oldest daughter's IPP meeting today and into the bright sunshine, it struck me that many days it really doesn't seem to matter how much or how well you think you know the law or which government entity is responsible for this or that - creating something meaningful and functional for our children seems nearly an impossibility.  The key words here are, of course, meaningful and functional.

It I had my druthers, Nova Scotia's Canada's education law would be very similar to that in the US.  We would have legislation similar to IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) - which, admittedly, would be somewhat difficult given that IDEA is a federal law whereas, in Canada, education is a provincial responsibility - which actually had some teeth in it, which actually gave parents meaningful rights and a process to challenge a school or school board's actions (or inaction). 

Yes, that's what we would have as opposed to the current namby pamby wishy washy excuse we have for legislation - legislation which uses much of the language in IDEA (such as guaranteeing our children an "appropriate education") but lacks both the process and the teeth to back it up.

I have definitely discovered that high school is a whole new ball game when it comes to IPPs.  From everything from the way they are created to the way they are reviewed and implemented, it is, quite simply, different.  And much harder, from a parent's point of view (or at least from my point of view) to meaningfully participate, to offer meaningful input that is actually included in the IPP and to get information as to how well the goals, once they are finally created, are (or are not) being met (and no, I don't mean the pathetic excuse for "reporting" that is passed off as report cards).

Although it took a long time for IDEA (as it exists today) to emerge, it also took a lot of parental involvement and advocacy.  And I can't help but think that's the only thing that is going to move Canada's educational systems for children with special needs forward.

In the meantime, I suppose we will all just keep putting one foot in front of another.  And keep hoping that somehow, through it all, we can manage to actually obtain an appropriate education for our children.

There's only one problem with that, of course.

Hope isn't actually a strategy.

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