Historical and Current Roles of Families and Parents The central theme of this essay is empowerment and the roles that parents, schools and professionals take on in the quest for the best educational decisions for those children with disabilities and those children that are gifted and talented. It is important to understand the historical development of family-professional relationships to fully comprehend the significance how far we ” ve come and how far we still need to go. In Chapter One, the authors discuss the eight major roles that families and parents have experienced over time. These roles range from the eugenics movement (1880-1930) which pointed to the parents as the sole cause of a child’s disability to today’s view which states that parents can be the cause of some genetic disabilities as well as those disabilities that are caused by drug use or alcohol abuse, but are not to blame for most developmental disabilities. In any case, blaming parents for their child’s disability causes a barrier that impedes progress when we should be expending energy finding ways to support families.
Professionals should avoid placing blame on parents and instead, concentrate on empathy and caring and providing support. Once parents began to organize because of a lack of professional response to their children’s emotional and educational needs, progress has been made in terms of public awareness of disabilities and educational reforms. Professionals no longer expect that parents will assume a passive role in the decision-making process for their children, as has been the case in the past. Instead, the authors advocate that an environment should be established where collaboration between parents and professionals create a bond of trust that benefits everyone involved.
Meanwhile, Chinese parents, like the mother in Amy Tan’s article, have too much expectation to their children’s future career and give them painful stress. Certainly, this kind of parents mentioned above cannot form a benign relationship with their children, especially adolescents in the rebellious period. The point is the relationship between parents and children in Chinese family is conflicting ...
To create such an environment, it is important for professionals to recognize the important role that parents provide for their children in terms of teaching them, as advocates in the political process, as educational decision-makers and as collaborators. Collaboration refers to the relationship between families and professionals whereby resources are shared and decisions are made jointly, with the child’s best interests in mind. Recent trends in the collaborative process include input from families, students, classmates, teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals and other related service providers. In this way, appropriate decisions can be made that are the result of information gathered from a variety of sources. These educational decisions will be much more likely to be successful when everyone works together for a common goal- that of providing the best educational environment for a particular child. Chapter 2 SCHOOLS AS SYSTEMS: THE CONTEXT FOR FAMILY-PROFESSIONAL COLLABORATION Chapter two describes the general education reform movement that has resulted in enhanced curriculum for all students.
There has been a separate reform movement in special education that has also resulted in restructuring student placement and service delivery systems for these students. Most recently, the two reform movements are beginning to converge. The general education reform was started when a national commission report, A Nation at Risk, recommended educational improvements because U. S. students did not compare favorably in testing results with their counterparts in Japan and Germany. This has resulted in local school districts taking more direct responsibility for decision-making that would affect all students and has included a stronger parent role in advocating for change.
In the profession of teaching, there are many popular topics of discussion with regards to creating the optimum learning environment for students. Each of these topics has a multitude of literature research to defend several different perspectives. Aside from the obvious complications, new perspectives are still being introduced which are arguably more effective than the past information which has ...
Along with this type of school reform, there has been a focus on schools providing comprehensive services for students and families that face multiple hurdles so that families can have their needs met for social, mental and public health services and coordinated in a single point of entry- the school. The special education reform movement established a free, appropriate public education for all in P. L. 94-142 (renamed in 1990 to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA).
This public law was needed because of the distinct difference between the education of individuals with and without disabilities. Many students with disabilities were educated in separate classes and schools and were excluded in many aspects of education.
IDEA mandates that all schools will receive state and federal monies to assist them in the education of students with disabilities. To receive this money, schools must abide by six principles of education for these students. They are: zero reject, nondiscriminatory evaluation, appropriate education, least restrictive environment, due process and parent participation. The result of IDEA was to provide a partnership between families and educators in the educational decision-making process. The authors expressed concern because this aspect still is the exception to the norm. A second phase of special education reform focuses on more inclusive placements for students with disabilities and more meaningful curriculum.
This is taking place through the Regular Education Initiative (REI) and the current emphasis on inclusion. Inclusion reform believes in providing placement for an individual based on the student’s strengths and abilities. The attempt at merging special and regular education has been a difficult one, and the authors say that more attempt must be made to include parents in the partnership between special and regular education. When speaking about parent involvement in special education, provisions were made in the IDEA for parents to collaborate with professionals to develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) from birth to age 3 that documents the family’s resources, priorities, and concerns related to their child’s development. When a child turns 3 and until they are 6, early intervention services begin in the form of early childhood special education.
ESTABLISHING GOALS AND OBJECTIVES When we talk about the purposes of education we may be referring to purposes at one or more of the following levels: nation, state, school district, school, and subject? Grade, unit plan, or lesson plan. Although there is no perfect agreement, most educators use the terms goals and objective to distinguish among levels of purpose with goals being broader and ...
After the age of 6, the student receives special education services. The child is provided with an IEP or Individualized Education Program which details the services that a child is to receive under law. Parents are encouraged to participate in the development of the IEP, but participation varies widely. Still, schools need to do more to encourage active participation of parents by providing more communication to parents and more opportunities for decision making for them.
Another reform that is attempting to bring together special and general education is referred to as united systems reform. This system is one outcome of the enactment of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act of 1995. With this act, emphasis is placed on improving and assessing student outcomes based on standards, and encouraging site-based management for restructuring of schools. Higher expectations, however, do not ensure that attitudes towards children with disabilities will change. Many changes still need to occur with the increased expectations. Through the site-based management aspect of this act, schools are encouraged to meet the standards through involvement of all stakeholders including professionals, students, families and community citizens.
However, the authors point out that advocacy for students is still a continuing need in the converging of special and general education. The authors stress that it is imperative for collaboration to occur between families and professionals to increase opportunity for student success. School systems need to be flexible in their approach to providing opportunities in order for these partnerships to occur. As a professional dealing with the school system and the family, I need to be aware of the challenges I will face in creating opportunities for collaboration. Chapter 3 Empowerment The authors define empowerment as the ability to get one wants and one needs. Empowerment differs from individual to individual and from situation to situation.
With sacrificing family resources to educate a girl child and a potential future leader still a big societal challenge, any effort to see the education of a girl is a huge boon. So when millions of dollars are poured into the effort, the impact cannot be overemphasised. The Campaign for Female Education (Camfed), introduced some few years back, has seen remarkable change of fortunes to many a ...
The goal of special educators should be to provide collective empowerment of ourselves and others involved in a student’s education. This comes into play for educators when securing related services for students and communicating with related service providers to ensure success for students. Also, it is important for professionals to develop techniques that to help families feel empowered in the education of their child. When considering empowerment, the authors have charted a model that illustrates the concept. In the model, they have included the family resources that consist of motivation and knowledge / skills, professional resources that consist of motivation and knowledge / skills, the foundation that signifies the combined collaborative effort of family and professionals called collaborating for empowerment and education context resources that include opportunities for partnerships and obligations for reliable alliances. When all of these interact, empowerment is the result.
In this chapter the authors introduce a third aspect of the empowerment model- that of education context resources. Along with the other two parts of the empowerment model, that of family resources and professional resources, education context resources adds another dimension of support that is necessary for all parts to be able to function effectively. Education support is necessary because it can make the difference for both professionals and family members to function effectively. Without education context resources, families can becomes overwhelmed by the system and professionals can be stymied in their efforts to provide support for learning and development for students and families. Efforts must be made by all members, especially families, professionals and schools to collaborate in providing the best educational environment for each individual.
Schools need to recognize the importance of family members in the educational decision-making process and make every effort to include them in order to best serve the child. When this collaborative effort happens, the result is empowerment of everyone involved. Chapter 4 Building Reliable Alliances The eight obligations of reliable alliances that are discussed in this chapter are: knowing yourself, knowing families, honoring cultural diversity, affirming and building on family strengths, promoting family choices, affirming great expectations, communicating positively and warranting trust and respect. The first obligation, knowing yourself, is important because the better you know yourself the better you can understand and appreciate the abilities, personalities and behaviors of others.
... information is shared with professionals and support is put in place for the child / family. We take part ... to be shared to comply with legal obligations if a child is thought to be at risk – ... barrier to learning and leave children feeling isolated and vulnerable. Resources have been adapted and ICT ... Smile (something many people forget when nervous), make eye contact, nod and use facial expressions, ...
Because experience and background differ from person to person, there are naturally differences in the way these people interpret the same information. Cultural differences can also add to the perception problem. It is important for us, as educators, to make ourselves aware of the differences that exist culturally so we can better understand our own beliefs and behaviors. Then, we can make allowances for the differences that exist in other people in terms of their beliefs, values and feelings that result in empathy and understanding. The second area, that of knowing families, is complex because just as each individual is different, so are families. In order to work collaboratively and effectively with families, we must understand these family characteristics and uniqueness.
One way to understand the make-up of families that we are dealing with is to get to know each family member and how they interact with each other in order to carry out the responsibilities of family life. Then, we can make decisions collaboratively in a spirit of trust and teamwork. The third obligation is that of honoring cultural diversity. Race and ethnicity are only a small part of culture.
Culture is a broader vision of what makes up an individual’s group identity and can include such areas as religion, income status, gender, disability status, geographic location and occupation. To make it even more complicated, these variables are changeable over a family’s lifespan. In any case, we need to be sure that every individual we work with is treated with respect by becoming familiar with the traditions and roles of individuals within different cultures. In this way, we can collaborate with understanding when dealing with specific issues with families such as developing IEP’s, conducting evaluations and sharing information.
'Should the decision to keep a person on life support be made by family members only?' This question has major impact on many people's lives, their deaths, and their quality of life. Many other questions can be asked in conjunction with this question. How would you like to be kept on life support? Would you want a doctor to make the decision of 'life or death'? The questions just keep on coming, ...
The fourth obligation is that of affirming and building on family strengths. Quite often, school personnel tend to focus on what is wrong with a family instead of concentrating on what the family is doing right. It is important to recognize the strengths of the family unit in order to be able to collaborate effectively with them. All families have strengths, and it might benefit the professional to sit down prior to discussing issues with a family and list the specific strengths of the families they are dealing with. A focus on family strength would lead to less blame placed on the parents and lead to more trust and confidence on both sides (professional / family).
The fifth obligation is promoting family choices and is considered critical because families need to know that their choices will be heard and considered by professionals.
So often, parents do not feel that they have a say in the educational issues that affect their child because we make the assumption that only the professionals have the right answers. In the past, parents very often were expected to play a passive role, and slowly, this role is changing. In the collaborative model, families and professionals work together in a relationship of trust, caring and respect for one another’s views. The sixth obligation is that of affirming great expectations, which has a great influence on motivation on the part of the family. We know from numerous studies that when a family has high expectations for their child, the child responds with higher academic achievement.
The author says that parents of children with disabilities are no different than those parents of children without disabilities- in fact, parents in the first group tend to have higher educational expectations than parents in the second group. Parents need to feel that there is hope for their child in terms of the future. As professionals, we need to encourage this hope because it is the base on which success can be built. One of the best ways to encourage this hope, the author says, is to share with the family the success of other individuals with similar disabilities, and how they compensate for or even overcome their disabilities. As professionals, we need to look for these opportunities to share hope for the future. The seventh obligation is that of communicating positively between families and professionals.
Communicating effectively takes practice, but everyone can learn to apply communication techniques until they become a natural part of communication style. To be an effective communicator, one must be aware of and accept cultural differences and the role a person’s disability plays in their ability to communicate. Increased sensitivity to these types of issues plays an important role when working with individuals and families. The book gives many examples for facilitating communication that include verbal communication skills (furthering responses, paraphrasing, response to affect (questioning and summarization), nonverbal communication skills (listening and attending), and influencing skills (providing information, support, focusing attention and offering assistance).
Along with these areas, communication can take place as individuals confer or when having a team meeting. Many times, communication skills need to be used when relaying information in crisis or other difficult situations.
To communicate effectively, It is important for a professional to be skilled and practiced in all of these areas. The eighth obligation mentioned in the book is that of warranting trust and respect. This is the most important aspect of all because when trust and respect are in place, collaboration and empowerment are enhanced. Professionals need to be sure that they develop a relationship with families based on mutual trust, respect and acceptance.