Time for Someone Else to Drive

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Today, I had the pleasure (and angst) of speaking with a gentleman who wanted a bit of insight before he and his wife met with their 6th grade daughter’s school about her lacking academic progress and special education service provision. During our conversation, the gentleman vented his frustration about the faculty feet-dragging and COVID limitations interfering with his child’s learning. His daughter is behind significantly and needs specific support to achieve academically. There is an IEP in place, however, those agreed-upon supports are not being provided. I shared with him a few strategies and talking points to use to hopefully net positive outcomes. 

The reality is this gentleman and his wife will have to assume full responsibility for ensuring their daughter (and two sons) are learning. Though not educators in the professional sense, they will need to explore options and resources available to them to make sure their kids are learning. Many parents are in the exact same situation. Failed education services and COVID restrictions have hindered academic achievement for two years now. To continue to wait for the system to step up and do their part is gambling with one’s child’s education.

Historically, the public education system in the United States has not taken responsibility for providing a Free and Appropriate Public Education for all children as required. At least six decades of the system’s own data reveals that it has largely shirked that responsibility. Yet, families still wait, believing, hoping, the system will teach their children. Statistically, about 70% of the families trusting the system to educate their children will at some point discover they gambled with their children’s learning and lost.

This is not an indictment of the dedicated educators giving their all to America’s children every day. This is, however, an indictment of a persistently failing system whose leadership will not remedy the dysfunction hindering achievement. I encourage families to proactively approach education administrators with their concerns about their children’s learning. The presence of a pandemic does not relieve public education leadership from ensuring children are achieving. This is especially true of students who receive special education services. Even though parents may not be professional educators, most are well-able to ensure their children learn. In the most literal sense, their children’s futures are in their hands.

Dr. Teresa Sanders
Dr. Sanders is an international bestselling author, education researcher and student and family advocate in the education setting. Dr. Sanders has presented at international education conferences and is the founder of Safari Small Schools, an innovative micro school in Canton, Texas. Dr. Sanders created Safari Small Schools to meet the needs of learners who aren’t thriving in the traditional classroom. Dr. Sanders can be reached at DrSanders@safarismallschools.com.