Monthly Archives: May 2020

The Strength of Education

Strength comes in different forms. A person who displays and utilizes physical attributes is considered to be strong. Someone who demonstrates calmness in times of stress or trouble could be thought of as emotionally strong. An individual exhibiting an above-average intellectual capacity could be classified as mentally strong. Educational strength, though not as widely acknowledged, is a life-changer capable of helping anyone who develops it.

Quality education produces the kind of strength life can be built upon. Its foundation is reinforced with the fortitude of knowledge, its pillars erected from the support of wisdom, and its structure solidified with the cement of confidence. Without it, the winds of chance and circumstance can blow through one’s existence like a hurricane in a treehouse.

Reading today’s reports on the challenges facing public schools would leave readers shaking their heads and thinking, why bother? Poverty, classroom size, family issues, technological inadequacy, bullying – physically and online, student attitudes, student health – obesity at epidemic levels, parental under-involvement or over-involvement, funding… when taken together, it’s no wonder such a bleak and negative picture presents itself.

Education is the Bedrock of Our Future

The truth is, we have to care because our future depends on it. The power of education is enduring, and it forms a bedrock for understanding and addressing the critical issues facing our country and the world in the 21st-century. Contrary to pessimistic headlines emanating from critics of public education, success stories are rampant in schools struggling to overcome the ever-present challenges and obstacles to daily learning.

Education, particularly in our public school system, has received a bad, and some would say unfair, rap. Accentuating the negative is, unfortunately, what makes news headlines far more frequently than positive stories which occur daily in classrooms across the country. Teachers labor intensively every day to build academically strong students who will be able to apply that strength throughout life.

Students from all walks of life are being provided quality education that will make a profound difference in their lives, and in their communities. Learning the three R’s and discovering their connection and meaning to the world outside school walls, is creating the kind of strength only literacy can provide.

Educational Strength Gives Birth to New Ideas

Educational strength gives birth to ideas and options crucial for dealing with some of the most serious issues facing the United States, and the entire planet. Discovering sustainable solutions to address present and future concerns, can only be accomplished through ongoing public education development, and a dedicated commitment to interactive instruction, engaged learning and quality graduates.

More than ever, societal issues are impacting our students and their search for a meaningful and productive life. Poverty continues to be a major contributor to academic failure. Among children under the age of 18 in the United States, 41 percent are classified low-income and nearly 19 percent – one in five – are considered poor and living in poverty.

Statistics like these represent sobering, and in many cases, insurmountable factors in the near-term, for achieving the kind of scholastic success needed to permanently reverse the continuous trend of ‘disadvantaged disengagement‘ in our schools. However, through education we find knowledge, and through knowledge comes hope. Hope for the future, and hope for a better life. We find strength.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” – Maya Angelou

5 Qualities of a Good Special Education Advocate

Are you the parent of a child with autism that is having a dispute with school personnel, and would like some help? Are you the parent of a child with a learning disability, or another type of disability, that could use an advocate to help you in getting an appropriate education for your child? This article will give you 5 qualities that make a good special education advocate

An advocate is a person that has received special training, that helps parents navigate the special education system. In some cases the advocate is a parent of a child themselves, but this is not always the case. Before you hire an advocate check on their experience, and also make sure that the advocate is familiar with your child’s disability, so that they are able to advocate effectively

Qualities:

1 A good advocate must be familiar with the federal and state education laws that apply to special education, and be willing to use them, when needed. This is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), State rules for special education (how they will comply with IDEA), and No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The advocate does not have to memorize the laws, but should have a basic knowledge of what is in them. The advocate must also be willing to bring up the laws, at IEP meetings, if this will benefit the child.

2. A good advocate should not make false promises to parents. If an advocate tells you. that they will get the services that you want for your child, be leery! Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in special education, and advocates should not promise things that they may not be able to get. An experienced advocate who knows the law and your school district, should have a sense about what can be accomplished.

3. A good advocate should be passionate about your child, and the educational services that they need. Advocacy sometimes takes a lot of time. If the person helping you is not passionate about your child, they may not be willing to help you for the length of time that it takes to get your child an appropriate education.

4. A good advocate must be willing to stand up to special education personnel, when they disagree with them, or when the school personnel tell a lie. If the advocate you pick, has every quality, but is not willing to stand up to school personnel, he or she will not be an effective advocate for your child.

5. A good advocate is detail oriented, and makes sure that any services promised by special education personnel, are put in writing. A good advocate will read the IEP before they leave the meeting, and bring up any changes that should be made. Sometimes the little details are what makes for success!

By keeping in mind these 5 qualities, you will be better equipped to finding an advocate that will be able to help you, get an appropriate education for your child.

What Is the Relationship Between My Education and Oppression Today?

The expression of education and oppression in today’s modern society can be traced to the very premise upon which the institutions of education are predicated. Theologian Cardinal Newman’s views[1] on education shed light on this meaning, “This implies that its object is, on the one hand, intellectual not moral; and on the other, that is the diffusion and extension of knowledge rather than the advancement (p. 122)”. Here we find the very idea of my own journey into higher education specifically in the context of my Catholic faith. The numerous sources described various situations were ideological choices of purpose are bestowed upon the students. In one case the affluent student must continue the rise of his family honor and in the next case the poor student seeks “liberation” (p. 124).

My own story is one of seeking liberation from a “historically oppressed minority” (p. 126). Choosing this type of Catholic education at Creighton resonates with me. The correlation of stagnancy and ignorance to lack of education seem very real as I am sure is does to the Native Americans in Pine Ridge and Rosebud Lakota (p. 133). Creighton University has taught me that through upright character and the art of Christian living (pp. 128-129) that action follows faith. Theologian Michael J. Buckley, S.J. captured this idea with, “a new orientation towards social action and efficacy and a conjunction between literary education and moral and religious formation” (p. 128).

In today’s world of mammon allowing for access to education, I would not have chosen this path if not for my inherent knowledge that my whole person will be evaluated in the context of my community. The pathway forward out of oppression for me is to serve the greater good. This includes my family and the community of like-minded people working for God’s glory. It is this type of education even in this online format that makes the end goal of being a “better human being” (p. 130) possible.

Lack of Education Contributes to Crime

As more and more low-income families move into neighborhoods that once catered to the middle or upper class, one must be on the lookout for his own personal safety and report any criminal activity going on in their surroundings. Crime is everywhere in these neighborhoods where kids find too much time on their hands after school hours or after the school year lets out.

What also contributes to the crime rate in such places? Is it just the lack of money for low income families? Sometimes, crime can be attributed to the lack of education on the part of the perpetrator or their families.

It is a statistical fact that the crime rate is inversely proportional to the education level of the culprit. Kids who grow up in families that do not stress the importance of getting an education are more likely to be living out on the streets, doing drugs, joining gangs, or ending up in prison.

Sometimes parents who raise such kids were raised in similar conditions when they were youngsters. Nothing has changed. An education should be foremost on parents’ minds when rearing their kids. In fact, an education is the key out of poverty. As the old saying goes, “The way out of the gutter is with a book and not a basketball.”

Kids who do not have a good education in school are more likely to have difficulty with finding jobs, getting into college, or staying out of trouble with the law. Many times they have family issues that are attributed to the loss of a parent at a young age due to a death or an incarceration.

Kids from single-parent homes run that risk of growing up as an “at-risk” child. This is due to the fact that the parent must work to provide food and shelter for the child, and the absence of the other parent fails to provide leadership and guidance for a growing mind. A parent who is incarcerated will definitely not be around to guide the child to getting good grades in school.

What kind of message does an incarcerated parent send to a child? Is it okay to be dumb and stupid and end up in prison like their daddy? Like father, like son. Right? Is it okay to skip school and join a gang like their daddy once did?

The truth of the matter is that kids who drop out of school will face hardship in their lives as they grow older. Lack of education on their part means lack of money to support a family. Lack of money translates into robbing a bank or convenience store.

We hear in the news every day a robbery that occurs in our city or elsewhere. Or perhaps a shooting on the part of the perpetrator that caused an innocent life come to an abrupt halt.

What are kids doing nowadays? How can we prevent our own kids from becoming troubled kids? For one, a parent must be a good role model and stress the importance of a good education. That means the parents must take an active role in their child’s education by monitoring how much television the child is allowed to watch and taking charge of knowing the kinds of friends that his child associates with. Furthermore, this means maintaining communication with his teachers at school and looking over his report card regularly.

A child with poor academic performance may indicate something wrong at school. Perhaps he does not like school due to external influences; i.e. bullying, difficult teachers, taunting by other students, or peer pressure.

It is better to catch the child’s problem as early as possible before it comes to the point that the child is truant from school, or worse, acts out his frustration that is reflected in another Virginia Tech-like massacre.

A child should like his studies and should show interest in his schoolwork. He should be taught that good grades will help him get a good education so that he can get a good paying job and be a productive member of society after he graduates.

Teach your child that involvement in gangs, violence, drugs, and/or extortion will not get him anywhere but prison. Once a person ends up doing life in prison, there IS no second chance. There is no freedom for him. There is no TV, no video games, no music, nothing! Not even a chance to get an education behind bars. If there is school in prison, the education is very limited.

If you are raising a child, question your child as to what is going on in school if he/she displays academic difficulty. Spend some quality time with him/her. Help them with their homework if possible. Remember, you are not just his/her friend, you are their parents. You are the first role model that a child looks toward from infancy. So be a good one and teach him/her what is right by staying in school.

There is a story in Austin, Texas a few years ago. It involved a troubled 17-year-old kid, Manuel Cortez, a high school dropout, who went out with his friends in a stolen car one sunny afternoon, and shot another student, Christopher Briseno, whom he did not even know because Briseno allegedly was teasing the sister of Manuel’s friend. Manuel Cortez is now serving life in prison because he made a stupid decision. Now families of the victim and the perpetrator are suffering two losses from society. All for what? Because Mr. Cortez chose to drop out of school and associate with gangs and/or violence? He chose to give up the possibility of an education so that he can run around gang banging? Or did he not have the proper support and guidance from his parents?

Special Education and the Importance of Collaboration

Collaboration means working with an individual or a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. Its importance is most visible in education. Every day, teachers work together with their peers, school counselors, and other staff for the success of each student. And when it comes to special education, collaboration becomes the single most important thing for a teacher.

A teacher for special education has to collaborate with school administrators, general education teachers, school therapists, psychologists, and parents and guardians. Students with mild disability have now been included in regular classroom teaching, according to the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act. This has led to general and special education teachers working together, often with the help of the best fun educational apps. The role of the educator in a general classroom, involves teaching the curriculum and assessing and evaluating special children. It’s important that a the educator brings in a set of personal skills to enhance student learning. Skills of both the general teacher and the special educator should come together to help a student.

A special educator has to work closely with the school management. It’s a vital part of the job. Working with the management will help the special teacher follow the necessary laws and procedure, work with individualized education plan (IEP), and make sure that special children are accommodated in the appropriate classroom. It’s always important to forge a strong relationship with these people for ensuring the success of a special student.

Working with parents is a major challenge for all special education teachers. It’s important to make strong and regular contact. It’s a nice idea to allow parents come and volunteer in the classroom, so that both the educator and the parent can help the children. A special child can obviously relate more to a parent. If parents explain the use of the best fun educational apps for kids, it’s likely to be more believable to the children.

Working with school therapists and psychologists is another key collaboration of a special educator. A therapist can inform the educator about the limitations of a special child. He/she may even recommend the best fun educational apps for kids so that special children pick up social skills faster. The educator, on his/her part, can update the therapist on how a child is progressing. The therapist is also responsible for diagnosis of a special child.

The work of the school psychologist is also largely similar. They too test children for disabilities and ensure that the IEP is being properly followed.

Collaboration is an important part of a special educator’s job, regardless of which part of school education he/she is involved with. Whether it’s working with the school administration, other teachers, parents, guardians, counselors, or therapists, a special educator has to work as part of a team for the betterment of special children. The needs of a special child are much different from that of a neuro-typical. Besides, each child is different. The best fun educational apps can keep the child engaged besides imparting important social skills.