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Crossing the Chasm, Part 1

One of the reasons I’ve been successful in the negotiations I’ve done in my career is because I can see both sides, yet what I’ve experienced in the educational world for the last 3.5 years, negotiating for my son’s right to an education, is that the negotiation strategies that the business world operates by, seem to be nonexistent in this arena.

But, why?

The premise of negotiation is that two sides have a desire that may or may not be opposing, and they sit down to talk through various possible means by which to discover mutual alignment.

And, in this instance, it’s a simple equation really.  There’s a building which educates children and there’s a family with a child that needs to be educated.  At its core, the logistics of this seem so simple, yet we know in practice that it’s not.

We know that over the last 40 years, education has excluded parents and removed parental rights from the equation.  We know that education has shifted away from actual education to more fad theories with no evidence that make big promises on the governmental desire of “job and career readiness” even though I’m of the camp that those characteristics cannot be measured on a graph.  We know that to enable this, publishing companies evolved from publishing houses to consulting companies more intent on selling products and having their consultants hired by districts than in actual valuable and scientifically proven educational products.  We know to enable this they also took over the university systems and changed the programs by persuading the professors to follow their line of thinking.  This institutionally altered the training our teachers received and continue to receive, ill equipping them for their jobs.  We also know that the end product of this was that education turned into big business.  Complicate this further by the evolution of data and how data mining is now a part of the job and career readiness push degrading the life of a child to nothing more than a plot on a graph and a series of informational statistics to be manipulated.

The reasoning for all of the above are not going to be explored here.

What we know is that over the last 40 years, the fad methodologies, whose foundations lie in the Whole Language theory, and an alleged compromise branded as Balanced Literacy, took over reading instruction in this country and pushed out any semblance of the science of reading that did exist.

Again, the reasoning for this is not going to be explored here.  To explore these ideas further please read Wolf, Seidenberg, Kilpatrick, Moats, Eden, Torgesen, Borkowsky, Stone and others considered leaders and voices for change within the #ScienceOfReading circles.

What the outcome of the above has created is a generation of teachers sitting in our classrooms who do not know what the science of reading is, school administrators ill equipped to make curriculum decisions because they too are victims of their corrupted university educations, and generation after generation of children victimized as a result of this reality.

It’s really no wonder then that part of this silent coup that occurred in the educational establishment removed parents from the equation.  We were made unworthy, less than, other.  Our voices were rendered meaningless, pandered to in insulting ways, devalued, laughed at.  We pay consequences for speaking up and fighting for our children including things like notes in our children’s files stating clearly we have Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, or are banned from campuses, or equally as bullied as the children we fight to defend.  It is a game of manipulation and intimidation with retaliation as the modus operandi.

So the reality is the chasm that separates parents from the school teams from whom we sit across in 504 / IEP meetings, is almost indescribably wide, and feels as far apart as the Earth and the Moon.

Earth to the moon

I wish I was being prosaic.

I’ve sat in too many meetings, know too much about the science of reading, have spoken to too many district officials, have bell curves to prove regression, and have been the “victim” of bullying tactics meant to beat me into submission.

Too smart for everyone in the room, I’ve always known what was happening.  I laughed throughout the ARD where they did all they could to paint me into a corner and force my signature, but I have always known exactly what was happening and why.

I see through the lies and the political smiles.  I see through the manipulations.  I see through the bullies.

In all those I encounter I see a plethora of things including ineptitude, fear, desire, talent, intelligence, stupidity and frustration.

In every meeting I see the Kool-Aid on the table, and I refuse to imbibe.


And they don’t want me to cross the chasm, they don’t want anyone to cross the chasm.  That is the land where no parent is to go, we are just supposed to pitch our children back and forth across the expanse and pray they don’t break when they land.

So how do we cross the chasm?  If we are there to ask an establishment that willfully chooses to not care about the education of our children, how do we reach across and achieve that end?

Tyrolean Traverse 1

That is the question that I pondered for fourteen days, without realizing that it was the question that I was really asking of myself as I prepared my strategy.

I had managed to procrastinate “true preparation” until the night before.  Despite the fact that it was truly the all-consuming thought that wouldn’t let me sleep, work, or communicate with anyone, I believed that I was procrastinating.  I organized the last two semester’s worth of paper, scanned in reports and evaluations dating back to preschool, made my two bursting binders burst some more as I shoved all of that paper inside.  I cleaned out my office again, discarding four bags worth of containers and papers.  I filed a year’s worth of filing to make work space available on top of my desk.  I shifted things from one side to the other, moved rugs, boxes, etc.  Then I even spent time moving files from multiple sources to the cloud, all to avoid actually re-reading my special education law book and preparing for yet another ARD.

And by the way, this is ARD number three, meeting number four, this semester alone.  We have a new full individual evaluation, and two more evaluations pending.  We have tabled every meeting, either unable to finish in the short allotment of time they have allocated, or because I have refused to agree.

But, why was I procrastinating?

Because I was angry and sad to my core.  Why?  Well, here is a sample, one the proposed goals:

Goal: Comprehension, Grades 5 & 6

By the end of the March 2020 grading period, given direct instruction on analyzing details and plot elements on grade level text and the use and purpose of a graphic organizer, with no prompts child will answer questions analyzing plot elements and use textual evidence to make an inference scoring a 70% or higher on assessments and assignments in 50% of opportunities.

By the end of the May 2020…scoring a 70% or higher on assessments and assignments in 60% of opportunities.

By the end of the September 2020…scoring a 70% or higher on assessments and assignments in 65% of opportunities.

By the end of the November 2020…scoring a 70% or higher on assessments and assignments in 70% of opportunities.

Me: Why are we only setting the benchmark at 70%?
Team: Well, he’s only scoring at 34% now so this is a reasonable goal.
Me: But it’s barely a D, not even a D, that’s an F.
Team: But, again he’s only scoring at 34% now.

(Insert eye roll here.)

Continued in Crossing the Chasm, Part 2,


One comment on “Crossing the Chasm, Part 1

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