It Really Is About the Child

Published on December 13, 2009 by Jennifer Laviano

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I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email this week, informing me that my blog was listed in the Top 50 Blogs for Special Education Teachers.  I’m sure you can figure out why I was pleased…but perhaps you’re wondering why I was so surprised.

To start with, my blog is fairly new, so I was incredibly honored to have my blog selected under the category of Special Education Law alongside veterans in the field, like Wrightslaw.  But even more than that, I really didn’t think that my blog would be a natural recommendation for special education teachers to read, since, well…let’s face it, I often have some not so nice things to say about some special educators.

Sure, I try very hard to emphasize how important it is to remember that most of the professionals who choose to work with children with disabilities are doing the right thing, and I regularly remind parents to keep perspective, that there is good on both sides of the fence, and that many teachers are put into very difficult positions by administrators.  However, I think it’s fair to say that, given my position as an attorney who represents children with special needs, I typically volley more criticism than praise at special education teachers.

Yet, when I shared my surprise with colleagues, I got some really enlightening comments…especially from special education teachers who read my blog regularly.  One such teacher indicated that he views my posts as examples of “what not to do,” and another told me that she feels empowered by the information which she gets.  What I learned was that many special educators consider my perspective valuable, even when they disagree with it.  Most know that there are “bad apples” among them…just as any professional who is honest would acknowledge about their profession, and they understand that while parents and educators can disagree, it really is about the child.

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But none of this compared to thrill of the communication I had from one teacher who read my post about the teacher who recently won a legal battle with her school district for retaliating against her when she complained about how children with disabilities were treated.   She told me that reading that she has the right to be free from discrimination by her bosses if she advocates for her students has allowed her to feel like she can possibly speak up at IEP meetings.

All of this put me in a pretty hopeful and positive mood, which is a far cry from my initial thought about why my blog had been selected, which was precisely this:  “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

It turns out knowledge is power, for adults as well as kids!  And that, my friends, is its own reward.

3 Responses to It Really Is About the Child

  1. Daunna Minnich
    December 13th, 2009 | 11:38 pm

    You deserve a spot in the Top 50! I eagerly await each new posting because you always say something worth thinking about — or laughing about or shaking your head at.

    There’s something special, and very unlawyerly, about the way you use your medium. Most professional writers think of themselves as wordsmiths who craft a message through words. You go beyond words and use your format — with illustrations, varying fonts and type effects, and spacing — in such a way that the reader is riding a wave and taking in the message effortlessly, and enjoying every moment of the ride.

    Thanks so much for your blog!

  2. Kyla Matton
    December 14th, 2009 | 12:19 am

    Congratulations Jen! How wonderful to learn you’re helping in so many diverse ways. I’ve often felt special ed staff were being bullied by administrators, or expected to do impossible jobs without the necessary support. It’s good to know they feel empowered by reading your blog.

  3. Rochelle Dolim
    December 14th, 2009 | 1:56 am

    Congratulations, indeed.

    However, I just found out that our original ‘bad apple’ is now assistant to the state compliance officer. Guess who did the actual investigation in the most recent complaint … got things factually wrong and took 3X the amount she has to complete their portion of the process. She’s the one who took my daughters from grade level Honor Roll students to educational invalids in less than a month … 6 years ago.

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