As an advocate for students with learning disabilities – and as a child of the civil rights movements of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s – I can envision an “Occupy LD” campaign that involves a well-organized “Million Moms March” on Washington, D.C. And like the protests of my childhood, the march would bring together people from various “camps” – all of whom want to see our children’s needs acknowledged and addressed. Parents would march side by side with teachers and school principals who desperately want to provide help for students with LD but find their hands tied by school district bureaucrats and budget misappropriations. Don’t believe it? As an advocate who represents many such educators, I can tell you they exist and they care deeply.
The rallying cry of the Million Moms March would be clear and powerful: “We know what teaching techniques work for our kids with LD. Their school districts know what works. Let’s deliver no less than that to our children!”
Once we have the attention of legislators and other decision-makers, we’ll insist that they:
- Give special education teachers instruction and certification in the teaching techniques that are proven effective for students with LD. These teachers want, need, and deserve it!
- Allow us to train our legislators on the legal rights of students with LD under IDEA. Ignorance of the law is no excuse; incompetence is indefensible.
Just imagine: A million well-behaved moms and their supporters, marching to make their voices heard. I picture them carrying signs and wearing banners that proclaim:
- If it works for my child, then it works for all children!
- If kids don’t learn to read the way you teach, then learn to teach the way they learn!
- A million moms can’t be wrong! If you think they are then you tell them!
- If we had a million moms in Congress we would not have this problem!
With the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), whether in whole or in part, with the U.S. Department of Education’s waiver program eroding IDEA, and with the soon-to-happen reauthorization of IDEA itself, we need to let Congress and our state legislators know that we want our students with disabilities to be counted and included in the group known as “All Children.” Form your local parents support groups now and be prepared to march on Washington, D.C. Power to the Mothers! (raised fist)
Michael J. Kaczor is an Independent Master Advocate for Children with disAbilities. He has been actively advocating for the last 15 years not only for his son, but also for many other students in a number of school districts and states.