Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Blubbering Advocate

I just can't quit this blogging thing. I get very far afield but I always come back to the thought that writing about something will help me sort through it. So here goes.

As many of you know, my son Julian has various developmental delays that make life very interesting at best and downright exasperating at worst. Take getting out of the house these past two mornings for school - two hours from start to finish. But we face the prospect of tomorrow renewed with a game plan of strict enforcement that will make all the difference in the world...or so we tell ourselves because we do need somewhere to hang our hopes.

Today there was a "speak out" in our fine borough of Queens sponsored by two different advocacy groups to give a voice to those who don't seem to fit into the "90% of parents who are happy with the quality of education that our children are receiving in NYC." The number is grossly inflated and, to borrow a Mark Twain quote used by one parent in the meeting, is "lies, more lies and statistics."

A parent I know with a very compelling story advocating inclusion for our special needs kids told me about the speak out. I don't know what I expected from a speak out, but it's a good bet that you'd be given the opportunity to well, speak out. A couple of parents read their stories before the meeting and then the floor was opened up to discussion. Damn my lack of forethought to not have written anything up myself as I am infinitely more eloquent in print than in public speaking unprepared. Oh and there's that little phobia about public speaking to begin with that I may have neglected to mention previously. My heart pounded in my chest with each parent that shared as I too have a story to get out there and it is Julian's story and he can't tell it for himself. I needed to be his advocate as I am daily in emails, conversations, and conferences with his school administrators and teachers.

I raised my hand, possibly half heartedly but sure enough they pointed my way. Then I started speaking which in my head was to be eloquent and compelling but in reality was anything but. I began to cry. All of those stored up emotions about doing the right thing for your child being put on the line and I cried, but I continued through my tears and spoke. Spoke about Julian being in a self-contained class and the pitfalls inherent in such a setting. Spoke about the various school staff who come into contact with this special segment of the population who have no clue as to the intricacies of working with them - or anyone for that matter, as individuals with individual needs. Spoke about exclusion by school administrators or teachers (depending upon whom you believe) from grade activities. And then I finished. Dried my eyes. Listened to the feedback from my sharing.

Of course, by now I had regained my composure and could have told his story to anyone who would listen. But you know, that day may just come when I can stand in a forum and deliver a speech on behalf of Julian without a quaver in my voice or a tear on my cheek. Of course, the day may sooner come when I can witness Julian do that for himself. Either way - look out NYC. We're here, we're staying and we needs some changes made.

On a sidenote, if you are interested in just how Sarah Palin plans to fight for special education in our society, read this guest post by an attorney advocate on a wonderful gem of a blog, Your Mama's Mad Tedious: Diary of a Special Ed Teacher.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Saturday Spin...

...any time now.

Ah, there it is. The video wasn't uploading. Too tired to write much.

"Money leads to power, power to corruption..." lyrics from the song which I dedicate to all those fine CEO's whose actions have caused a bit of trouble, you may have heard. Oh and "occupying spaces that were clearly meant for others..." was written for Ms. Sarah Palin, who really should stop winking at the camera - now.

Not much to tell, the artist is Gary Louris who was formerly a singer/songwriter with the Jayhawks, who The Village Voice called "the only country-rock band that matters" back around 1992. I know this because I won a Les Paul video for calling in to a radio station with that information. I believe they were voted best Country/Rock Band by the Village Voice that year and that was the answer to the radio trivia. How quaint. The Les Paul video was sold in a garage sale or is in the garage awaiting another one - sale that is, which if the creek don't rise may happen this weekend.
Anyway, not much of a proper Saturday Spin, but enjoy. I have been busy with the holidays (Rosh Hashanah was this past week and Yom Kippur is this coming Thursday). I'm supposed to be introspective right now, but instead I find myself obsessing. I better get that straightened out before Thursday.
Have a great weekend all.