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The Right to a 'Fair' Education: Rocking the Boat, series 1 of 4

An exceptional learner is basically any learner who has a special gift, talent, and/ or a disability, thus requiring specialized educational services, as well as related professional services. In local parlance then, in order to receive a fair education, a learner's profile must be understood by his or her Educators, and related service professionals. The degree to which the Educator or professional knows the learner, will, to a great degree, generate educational programs which are more finely customized, and tailored to the learner. This process of knowing the learner is key to a overall successful outcome for both the Educator, professional, learner, and parent.

In the state of Connecticut though, many parents are coming forward with some grievances. I see them on the local news channel more and more. Lawsuits are gearing up, and momentum is really racheting up. Racheting up like a wave that is beginning to break on the shore. These parents are frustrated, they are worried, and they are unhappy. Many parents feel that they have tried and tried different ways to work with public school districts, but they meet up with passive, and not so passive defensive strategies. Schools are known to deflect, dismiss, 'unacknowledge' previously acknowledged agreements, or straight out ignore pleas for more tailored educational programs for the learners.

There are a variety of reasons for their behavior, some of it is what it is, lack of professionalism, yet another part is more complex, blame or fault, within public school Special Education programs is nuanced. The buck does not stop start or stop with each public school district. It starts in Washington D.C. and the historical lack of necessary funding of Special Education. This obviously impacts a school districts ability to bring in top talent, continuously train Special Educators in effective and efficient ways of the best instructional practices and methods, and lastly, move beyond reactionary, defensive positions to cover their legal rear-ends. Not fully funding Special Education budgets on the Federal level directly impacts learners who are in need of specific supports and accommodations. Corners are cut, some issues are overlooked, and discussions begin getting rather political when well-informed parents request tailored services which require money output by schools.

In the next posting of this series, I will discuss how our civic leaders are responding to the rising public din demanding accountability for fair education, how parents are responding to their response, and finally some concepts that can help all move forward to solve this systemic problem. It is shortchanging the ability of generations of learners be as independent as possible. It is wrong to keep the status-quo. The boat needs to be rocked.

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