“As a parent I advocate strongly for my child and I will continue to fight, but I feel like I am drowning and trying desperately to elevate my child above the rising waters. I’m left with the question of how do we fight for a system change for all children when we are all fighting individual battles for our children?”
I think every parent advocate would agree, the fight for our child’s education is soul consuming. We experience mental anguish and pain, humiliation, rage, sorrow, guilt, despondency, shame, cruelty, heartlessness. We shed ego in favor of begging for our child’s education. We joke about drinking. We experience depression. We experience PTSD.
And this is nothing compared to what our children can and do experience, that we fight so hard to shelter them from, but ultimately cannot spare them.
There’s a movie line bouncing around in my head right now, “Well, please don’t sugarcoat it on my account!” (Don’t ask what movie because I cannot remember, and it is going to drive me nuts until I do.)
But, if you’re reading this then this journey is something you already know a lot about because you’re living it. I’m not saying anything you don’t already know or feel, and in that vein….
We also experience joy, sighs of relief, wonder, satisfaction, elation. We celebrate all victories, no matter how small. We love and love deeply.
And, we forge friendships as we find our tribe.
One of my greatest joys in this journey have been the people who have come into my life. I honestly do not think I ever would have met these people without dyslexia.
But knowing this is the individual front, emotionally speaking because I didn’t even touch on all of the books, lectures, conferences, webinars, scholarly articles, etc. that must be consumed, and consumed quickly, to make one a successful advocate, how does one also fight the system?
The answer to the question is that they are two separate fights.
On the individual battlefield, no matter how savvy of an advocate you may be, victory may be elusive. Your individual battle will come down to how far you are willing to go, plain and simple. This means are you willing to pursue and pay for due process? Home school? Private school? Are those options even open to you?
In the state of Texas, to pursue due process under 504 costs between $25,000 & $50,000. School districts are going to use taxpayer money to fight you as long as necessary, but can you fight indefinitely? What if you win and the school appeals the decision, taking it to another level, a higher court? Can you keep fighting? What are your odds of winning due process? Who is paying the decision makers? Are they truly impartial? What is the parent / school ratio of decisions? In Maryland, the Davis family went public about their fight and the fact that parents lose well over 90% of the time.
Dyslexia is a learning challenge that only the upper middle class and higher can afford to fight at an individual level, and how on Earth is that fair when dyslexia affects every segment of the population equally? As we all know, dyslexia exists in every language, in every race, in both genders.
The individual front is personal, and only you know how far you can go. Regardless, one fight alone cannot and will not change the system. That distinction, however ugly, needs to be clear.
And, the education system is banking on it.
This is the ultimate David versus Goliath confrontation. This is the average citizen taking on big pharma. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? Not at all.
Do you remember that scene in Avengers: Infinity War when Iron Man and Dr. Strange and others were stranded on Thanos’ home planet and Dr. Strange looked into the 14,000,605 futures to find the way to defeat Thanos, and there was only one?
Well, I cannot look into the future to see all of the possible permutations for how to change education, but I am confident of what it will take, and why each of us must find the strength to fight more than their own child’s battle, and in saying that, you should already see the truth of what the solution is.
The voice of the people, risen together, can and will change education.
The voice of the people, risen together, has been the greatest catalyst of change in our society. In Russia, several subsequent uprisings of the people, felled a dynasty and brought about the Russian Revolution. In the US, women gained the right to vote because they were not afraid to stand together, despite the abuse, both physical and mental, that was heaped on them. They kept marching until they won the vote. Greatest of all, the Civil Rights movement, led by men like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ended segregation and the atrocities that segregation had wrought.
This is a case of each person must take action. We cannot rely on others to stand up for us, we must all stand up together. We cannot simply donate money to a cause but reach out to those in power and demand change.
These words are easy to say, but if we are to save our children, this is what we truly need. Yes, good things happen here and there, but TO CHANGE EDUCATION, TRULY CHANGE IT, more must happen, more people must be involved, more voices must be raised, more hands clasped, united in the determination that this must change for the sake of all of our children.
The time has come to stop commenting on social media posts calling out the shameful tactics and practices of education and do more. From somewhere deep, in our already exhausted selves who taste defeat more often than we want to admit, who hold our children while they cry over homework and failed tests, who may be threatening suicide, we have to find a way to still raise our voices, and that voice must call for change.
Change is never easy, and the change that people united together have brought about, was for major injustices. Well, this is a major injustice. This is a civil rights issue. This is about our children, and the future that they face without an education. This is about the generations lost already. This is about the prisoners who are dyslexic and illiterate, failed by the system and left to figure it out on their own. This is about EVERY FAMILY, regardless of socio-economic status, regardless of race or gender, to have the right to determine their own fate, to shape their own American dream, on their terms. This is about self-determination.
This is about our children, and their future.
The life we value for ourselves, the life we dream for our children, is dependent on all of us demanding better, and to not stop demanding until we change the entire system.
The future depends on us all.
2 comments on “Demanding Change”
Ashley, Very well written article. In some districts working with the school board & upper administrators can produce some changes. I understand that parents in Highland Park ISD are doing this. Right now how districts decide to spend the new Dyslexia allotment is crucial for future changes. At the state & district level the reading academies, reading advisory committee, & training elementary about reading could make a bid difference in some schools. TEA says it will modify the complaint process, which could be of some help to parents, & students. A few states have passed laws that put the “burden of proof” on the district even if the parent files for the hearing. Thanks for all you do to help parents.
We need to unite. We need to look at other marginalized groups (SOGI)
and assess and evaluate how they got traction. Dyslexia was discovered over 100 years ago and yet the “powers at be” do not know how to identify it early nor how to ameliorate its effects. We need to obliterate the shame that prevents a united voice to generate systemic change.
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