Fight Song

I saw this yesterday on a Facebook page.  A very brave person!  And you will hear all about her fight very soon.

Delaware Special Needs Parents Need To Unite Statewide Now! We can’t let the Rodels, Markells & DOE Screw Us Over

Gateway.  Priority Schools.  Smarter Balanced.  Standards Based IEPs.  Common Core.  Personalized Learning.  Rodel.  Vision.  Relay Graduate School.  Teach For America.  Governor Markell.

These are the ways Governor Markell, under the long-term strategic plans of Rodel, using the DOE as his shadow puppets, has systematically and methodically destroyed education as we know it in our state.  Some of us know this, and others are still living in the haze.

Sometimes, to move forward, you have to look back.  Last night, I journeyed back to last April.  My family’s situation with my son’s former charter school was starting to end and we were laboriously working on an IEP for my son at his new public elementary school.  But it felt like it wasn’t enough.  I started to research what led to all this.  I contacted a blogger named Kilroy, and we had many sidebar chats.  One day, I emailed him and advised him I figured it all out: Rodel ran education in this state.  They didn’t care what you or I thought, they had their vision, and to hell with anyone that got in their way.

We have allowed this to happen.  Because we haven’t spoken as one voice.  It’s hard being a special needs parent.  We all know this.  If it isn’t impacting my child, then we just don’t make the time to help.  Well guess what, everything is impacting your child now.  I’m sure a few weeks ago all the parents at Gateway thought they were secure.  I’m sure last summer some of the parents at the Priority schools thought their children were in good hands.  We have a standardized test coming up next Spring that a lot of our kids are rigorously  prepped for every day.  This test is so bad the company that made it doesn’t even know how to set proficiency levels.  Our teachers are being held at bay, getting screwed over left and right, held with a gun to their head every day with the threat of lower pay and the future of their already low-paying job on the line.   None of our schools are safe anymore.  Our educators aren’t safe.  And our children aren’t safe.

When I was chatting with Kilroy, he told me this state needs a unified special needs parent group.  Like a PTA for special needs parents.  As pieces, we can make some noise, ruffle some feathers, but at the end of the day nothing changes.  As a whole, a large unified group, representing 13.5% of children in this state, we can make a difference.  When one of our schools is threatened, we stand up.  When one of our kids is being mistreated, we stand up.  When legislation is introduced that can impact our kids, we stand up.  This is the only way we can make true and lasting change in Delaware.

We can NOT be a part of a government group.  Not PIC.  Not GACEC.  Not the DOE.  Not the Delaware PTA.  Or a PTO.  Once you are in the matrix, you don’t leave.  Don’t get me wrong, some individuals have made great changes to the system by being in these groups.  Some have gone on to become legislators.  That’s a good thing.  However, for the services and supports we need now, we need each other.  We can no longer rely on a Governor who really doesn’t care about what our kids need.  Gateway has proven that numbers on a piece of paper are more important than our children’s needs.

I would like to see this group start in January 2015.  Or sooner.  We can all go to the public comment meeting for Gateway on December 10th at the Delaware DOE.  They need our support.  We can protest the priority schools.  Because the state DOE has said nothing about the needs of those special needs children.  It hasn’t even been a part of the conversation.

Please leave comment and let’s start planning together.  This isn’t impossible.  It only takes a few people to unite and start spreading the word.  Reading this and agreeing is not enough.  Many of us have had our differences.  So we talk about them, we hash them out.  Maybe you think your kid is doing fine and everything is alright.  Great, let’s talk and see if that’s really the case.  We cannot live in a bubble anymore.  Because if you think for one minute all of this Common Core and standardized testing is going to lead to a greater future for your child, you are very wrong.

Delaware Special Needs or Minorities Parents: I Need Information #netde @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de

If you have ever applied for a charter school in the state of Delaware, and the application was denied, and you feel it was based on your child being either a student with special needs or a minority, I want to hear from you.  If your child was accepted to a charter school, but you were then told by the charter school they could not accommodate your child’s needs, I want to hear from you.  If your child was ever “counseled out” from a charter school due to behavior issues and your child had special education, and the result was you pulled your child out and sent the child back to the local public school district, I want to hear from you.  If your child took a test for entrance and did well on it, but the application was still denied, I want to hear from you.  If you feel your child was put in a lower bracket of special education at a charter school and you knew there should be more services provided for your child, I want to hear from you.  If your special needs child was suspended more than ten times in a school year, or was expelled, I want to hear from you.  All information is confidential, and I may want to speak with you.  Please leave your name, email and contact number.  Information can be sent to kevino3670@yahoo.com

 

Things To Know About Special Needs Families #netde #eduDE

With the release of the IEP Task Force membership, I’ve been hearing a lot of controversy about the membership.  I have stayed out of it, for the sole reason that many of these members have children with special needs.  They may belong to this group or that group, but we are all the same.  There are certainly people with influence, but I can’t think of any special needs parent who would sell the needs of their child down the river for the sake of another agenda.  To do so would be a mockery of everything this task force is about.  I believe, based on what I am hearing, that this task force will get to the real reasons why special education in our state is struggling so much.  But one thing I will never do is rip on families, no matter what is going on.  I post about a lot of things, but in my heart I am a parent first, and my son needs me.  He may not understand why I write a blog, but every word I write is for him and all the children in Delaware who are struggling with this.  Every investigation, every plea for help, is for all of them.   I would throw myself under a bus for my son if it meant he could have a better life.  That’s all any of us want.  So while this IEP Task Force is in session, please try to understand this.  Let’s face it, as things stand now, Delaware needs help.  Matt Denn has been a huge advocate for children with disabilities, and he is the best choice to lead this group.  Many of these children are unable to speak with their own voice, so that’s where the parents come in.  We can be loud, and forceful, and mad as hell.  But at the same time, if you have our back, you have a friend for life.   And no matter what our political or education beliefs are, we all have an unspoken bond that says we are there for each other because at the end of the day, it’s family first.

Delaware Special Needs Support Groups for Parents

I would like to get a list together of support groups that are out there in Delaware for special needs parents. I can tell you that I go to a group at Calvary in Dover called “Reach Out”. There are several of us there, with children going through various types of disabilities. We haven’t met over the summer, but we will start up again soon. Several parents have concerns about what to do with their child. At “Reach Out”, a grou called Capernaum actually comes in and watches the kids. They are fully trained to deal with special needs kids of all sorts. We meet up on Wednesday nights, from 6:45 until 8:30pm.

I know there are other groups out there. If any of you reading this want to add to the comments, or email me at kevino3670@yahoo.com, please do so. I know there are a lot of parents out there who think they are in this alone, and they aren’t! Please include the following: Name of group, location, when you meet, and if it is disability specific, for example, just autism.

If there are none in your area, you might want to think about starting one. There may be churches or schools that would be willing to give you meeting space. There are so many options out there. Sometimes it just takes one strong person to make it happen! I would be more than happy to get the word out on my end, through here or on Facebook. Thanks to you all!

Facebook Groups for Special Needs Parents: You Are Not Alone #netde #eduDE

There are several different Facebook groups for different disabilities and parent support on Facebook. For the most part, folks are very willing to lend a helping hand when you have questions or just need support. All of us special needs parents know we will have bad days, and sometimes just that one word of encouragement can give you energy to get you through the rest of the day.

Being a parent of a special needs child is no easy task. It can be demanding and frustrating, and it can sap the energy out of you very fast. I would hate to think there is anyone out there going through it alone. You are not alone. There are many people out there willing to help. I’m not going to sit there and tell you they will come to you. You have to seek them out. For my son’s Tourette’s Syndrome, I go to TIC Talk. I don’t always comment, but I’ll just read other’s posts, and find similarities. Sometimes that is enough for me.

One thing to keep in mind if you do go to these groups, and don’t be alarmed, they are usually closed groups and the administrator may ask what your purpose is for joining the group. Just search for a disability, and you will be shocked at how many groups there are out there. One thing I was taught in a support group I go to, is to take care of yourself as well as your child. Because if you can’t be right, how can you expect to be right for your child?

Parents Either Hate Common Core or Love It. Where Most Special Needs Parents Fit. #netde #eduDE

I would say based on feedback through this blog, Facebook, and Twitter, 90% of parents of special needs loathe and despise Common Core. The other 10%, they love it. I have to wonder why they stick up for it like it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

I debated back and forth with one mother on Facebook last week for a long time about the subject. She claimed that Common Core is so much better than what they had before in California. She is also a public school teacher. When I brought up the matter of the standardized tests, she was for them. But she admitted that her children hated them and found them to be very difficult due to so many essays on the test. And she didn’t like the curriculum being forced to adhere to the way the state wanted it. But she felt the theory behind it was good.

Then there was the father from Maryland, also a public school teacher, who thought it was excellent. He felt it helps the kids to improve and do better. He also said that allegations that resistance to common core is “political motivated fear mongering” and that I was “seeing conspiracies where there are none.” I guess half the population must be crazy and we are all seeing things. His child attends a charter school in Maryland that has revitalized the community around it. Glad one of them can do that.

These were both parents with children with special needs. But like I’ve said, they were by far the minority of how parents feel about this federal intrusion into the rights and laws that were created for our children. This debate will go on for a long time until it’s gone. Hopefully, that will be soon if what I’m hearing is correct. But if not, the debate continues.

Being A Dad to a Special Needs Child: Who Is Jon’s Loving Father? #netde #eduDE @kilroys_delaware @ed_in_de

When my son was born, I knew he was special. He had a long journey ahead of him, full of wonder and hope. We lived in California when he was born, but after a few months, we moved back east to be closer to family and friends. He was a very loving, playful child. As he got older, and started talking, he would always tell us he loved us.

As the years went by, I quickly realized my son would struggle a good deal of his formative years. I thought this was a cruel twist of fate for the longest time, and I blamed God. It took me a long time to realize God put my son in this place. My wife and I were put in his life for a reason as well, to advocate for him to the best of our ability. This wasn’t something I ever thought I had inside me. A child with Tourette’s Syndrome, ADHD, OCD, Sensory Processing Disorder, and a bit of ODD at times is a challenge. I won’t deny that. But I’m learning to see through the disorder and see him in my mind as the vulnerable child who needs his Mom and Dad more than anything else in this world.

Once I realized I had to advocate for my son, I thought that was it. But I soon realized God wanted more from me. He wanted me to advocate for more than my son. Sometimes the ideas that pop into my head for stories are things I have never even thought of. It’s like one door opens to an idea, only to find myself travelling through a whole house of words. My wife complains my stories are too long sometimes. And I agree with her. I’ve tried to keep them a bit shorter. But when I am doing a long story, like my investigative series on the DOE in Delaware, I find so much stuff out.

My name is Kevin Ohlandt, and I am proud to be a special needs father, a husband, and an advocate for any special needs child in need. And what we need is change. Change in our education system, as well as special education. Say no to high-risk testing special needs parents. Opt-out if you have the courage, not for yourself, but for your child. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it will be hard to put it back in. That genie is Pearson or Smarter Balanced Testing. Don’t let our government change IDEA and IEPs so much that they do not benefit the individual child. These are my goals, and we all need to get together and say this out loud. Join my Facebook group, EDPAST, so we can become so large they can’t ignore us. Thank you for all you have done for my son already. I couldn’t have done this without the trailblazers who are already out there.

Breaking News: EDPAST Creation! Special needs parents, join now on Facebook! Reblog! Retweet! Spreak this link! #netde #eduDE #usa

I have just created a group on Facebook called EDPAST.  This stands for Exceptional Disabled Parents Against Standardized Testing.  Our ideas are very simple.  We are against any type of high-risk testing that causes our special needs children more undue stress and struggles.  We believe every parent of a special needs child can and will opt-out our children from these types of tests.  We are against Common Core as it teaches children at the same pace and violates IDEA and the spirit of an IEP.  There is no individual in Common Core.  Please join now to become the biggest special needs parents group in the country so we can make a true impact for our children.  The larger we become, the more potential there will be for true change.  Just go on Facebook and request to join.  We need all of you to be a part of something the government can’t just ignore.

Special Education In America: Where is it going? Spread this link all over! Reblog!

I firmly believe our federal government wants to eventually usurp IDEA and IEPs for special needs children. They want the “common” goal to be increased standardized test scores for these students. This is a very strong opinion, but here’s why I believe this.

The volley started on June 24th. This was the day OSEP announced Delaware, California, Texas and Washington D.C. needed federal intervention for special education. Their criteria for these states was based on compliance, NAEP testing, and students with disabilities drop-out rates. But let’s not fool ourselves for one minute this had anything to do with compliance. It’s all about Common Core and test scores. Common Core is the complete opposite of an IEP. The I in IEP stands for “INDIVIDUALIZED”, not a sameness for all special needs students.

The feds have already said if these states don’t get it together, they could be at risk of losing federal funding for special education. And what happens then? With no funding, they wouldn’t have to grant special ed. Which is the overall plan. They announced a $50 million dollar data center to help special needs children increase their test scores on the same day. But if all states eventually lost their $11.5 billion dollars in special education funding, what would that mean? The IEP will be gone!

I think they know special needs students will tank and fail the upcoming tests coming out next year: Pearson and Smarter Balanced. As a result, they will have their reason for getting rid of many special education teachers as well as regular teachers. They will use this as justification for getting rid of IDEA and IEPs as they are currently written. It will still exist, but new legislation will be introduced to make everything about increasing test scores for our disabled children. And guess which states will be the pilots for this federal intrusion into the heart of education for special needs students? Delaware, California, Texas and Washington D.C.

This has been planned for a long time. It will change everything. As a result, inclusion will become a thing of the past. Without the current accommodations in place for these children, chaos will reign in classrooms for a very brief period of time. Teachers and administrators will throw their hands up, and then what happens to these children? I fear the worst, and I’m frightened to even write down that thought, so I won’t.

The only way to stop this is for parents to get together NOW. Not later. Not into the school year. It will be too late then. The media will be focused on the upcoming elections, and which side will reign supreme. Then we get into the presidential race, and so on. This is our key moment parents, and if we waste this chance, it will be gone. I am only one person, and I can’t change all of this by myself. I need your help. Our children need our help. Some of us may not like what our children have now, but it won’t matter when it is all gone.

We All Have Special Needs

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, special needs children say it from the heart.

Dreaming With Your Feet

I am at a convention called BlogHer. There are 4,000 bloggers here with me. I feel very small and I have so much to learn.

One of this morning’s keynote speakers, Shannon Des Roches Rosa of the blog Squidalicious, spoke about how connecting with a community of bloggers and with her own readers helped her come to terms with her son’s autism diagnosis. Another keynote speaker, Jenny Lawson – The Bloggess and author of the book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, spoke about the response she received when she shared with them that she has a mental health diagnosis. Her readers responded with thousands of comments that shared the refrain, “I thought I was alone.” She has emails from people who told her they were on the verge of suicide and read her blog post, and the comments left by the community of people who also have a mental…

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Alone? Frightened? Worried?

Emma sounds like a great daughter. It’s amazing how much our special needs children teach us as opposed to us teaching them. I truly believe God has a special plan for these children.

Emma's Hope Book

“No one knows how to help us.”  This was what I once said to my husband.  It was many years ago.  So many, I no longer remember the year.  Along with that realization was this one – “We are in this alone.”  And while, at the time, that thought terrified me, it was the beginning of finding another way.  It was the moment when I realized all these people we were looking to for guidance, didn’t know what was best for our daughter, even when they believed they did.

In the beginning we were told how fortunate we were, our daughter was “mild” we were told and if we followed their advice – an aggressive implementation of ABA, Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy – she would be in a regular classroom by the time she entered kindergarten.  She was still two years old when she was diagnosed and we knew nothing about…

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The Secret about Parents of Kids with Special Needs

All I can say is Wow! This is an awesome article!

Dreaming With Your Feet

Alisa and Anna Chilton Alisa and Anna

I follow a lot of blogs. One of my favorites is Special Needs Mom, by a gifted writer named Suzanne Perryman. She posted an entry on April 14, 2013, that pops back up in newsfeeds occassionally and during the past week, I’ve noticed that several of the moms of students in my program have reposted it. Click here to read the post.

As I re-read this post, I realized that I know a secret about parents of kids with special needs, a secret they won’t tell you because they probably don’t even realize it …

The secret is that parents whose kids have special needs are brave.

What else do you call a person who has faced their worst fear and emerged changed for the better? In the past seven years, I’ve met hundreds of parents and I’ve only encountered one who was bitter, a…

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Upgrades On Exceptional Delaware

Hello everyone, I’ve started making some changes to the look of Exceptional Delaware. I want this to be a relaxing place where parents or interested parties can come, and sit back and read. My stories or articles may not always be relaxing, but I want people to be comfortable here.

I’ve added some pictures and I started adding links for parents to find more information about certain topics. This is a work in progress, and it will take several weeks to get them all up there. If you have any links or websites you know of that can help special needs parents, don’t hesitate to let me know. For those who know me, you know how to let me know. If you don’t, please comment or shoot me an email at Exceptionaldelaware14@yahoo.com

Thanks to all of my readers. This blog would not be the success it has been if it weren’t for you. Every time I get a message or a comment from someone indicating this website has helped them in some way, it drives me to do more for them.

Why are special needs parents so damn mad all the time? #netde #eduDe

Because we are! But seriously, we start off as very concerned when we get the reports from the school. Jon isn’t listening. Jon isn’t behaving. Jon can’t keep his hands to himself. But Mom and Dad aren’t seeing this at home, so they think it’s a school thing. Then the teacher starts telling the parents “You might want to get Jon tested for ADHD and get him on some medicine.” Mom and Dad go to the doctor, and he says “Jon is only 6. He’s way too young to go on psychotropic drugs.” Mom and Dad tell the teacher, and the teacher thinks it’s a big mistake.

The next year, Jon’s behavior gets worse, and Mom and Dad are starting to see it at home. But the school won’t give Jon the special education he needs when Mom and Dad get a diagnosis for him. Another year goes by, and Jon’s behavior gets worse. Mom and Dad do put him on medicine because without it he would be in pain. The school still won’t give him special education that he needs.

It gets to a point where it reaches a moment of crisis, and Mom and Dad pull Jon out of the school for homebound instruction, and a few months later, Jon is going to a new school. He gets the special education, eventually, at the new school. But his Mom and Dad had to fight for certain things Jon needs.

This happens all the time. Nobody knows our kids better than we do. We know more about what makes them who they are then the schools. But they frequently don’t want to see that. So instead of the naïve, easily manipulated parents we once were, we become educated on all things special education. We not only become advocates for our kids, we become warriors. Special needs parents are very dedicated to making their child’s life the very best it can be.

We have our rough moments. Many of them in fact. We see the behaviors manifest at home, and sometimes we don’t know what to do. A child can be fine one moment, but something changes, and it becomes a nightmare. Sometimes a child with special needs is incapable of listening to reason. The parent has to choose between a battle of wills, leaving the child alone, or giving in. Sometimes none of these are good options. Eventually the child comes out of their funk, and is very apologetic and remorseful. They aren’t psychotic. They aren’t insane. Sometimes their disability gets the best of them.

We do our best, and sometimes we feel like a failure, especially when things happen that are beyond our control. But we are parents, and we will be until the day we die. We have been created by the schools to fight, and to push, and to be fierce warriors for our children. The schools are often taken aback when Mom and Dad come in with more knowledge than they may have. They shouldn’t be, they created us.

Delaware: Race to The Top damage report in! Special Ed students victimized!

So, Delaware special needs parents, who is in for starting our own EPTA, Exceptional Parent Teacher Association?

Kilroy's Slower Delaware

Delaware ponders how to test special-needs kids Matthew Albright, The News Journal

A stinging report from the U.S. Department of Education saying Delaware “needs intervention” in special education has put the state under pressure to exempt fewer special-needs students from national standardized tests.

While Gov. Jack Markell’s administration says it is pushing to fix the problem, advocates for those students say there’s more to the issue than simply getting the tests right.

Read more here ………………

God help parents of special needs children if Governor Markell’s hand is in the fix.

The time has come for Delaware’s parents of special needs children to breakaway from PTA. These parents needs a stand-alone voice of their own and the power to go with it. The mission of PTA should be advocating what’s right for children and all children not being part of a Common Core Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessment Kool-aid fest. It…

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A Plea To Delaware Parents Of Children With Special Needs And Disabilities #netde #edude

I wrote this a few weeks ago when the House of Representatives passed House Bill 334, which allows for Smarter Balanced Assessments. A lot has happened since then, especially with the Fed report on Delaware needing intervention for special education, but we still need to unify as one voice.

Exceptional Delaware 2017

I’ve been doing this blog for less than a week, and I am amazed at how many people have looked at it, and how diverse the audience is.  I am very proud of this.  I’m still new at this, and I have a lot to learn.  When I started this blog journey by telling my son’s special education story from a Delaware Charter school, I promised I had no political agenda.  That has changed.  The only way things can change for these kids is through legislation and hammering the points home to those who need to listen the most.  I am not running for any type of office, but I believe new legislation needs to be passed so children with special needs and disabilities have more rights in the state of Delaware.  I have talked to many parents from different states, and when they hear about the types of things that…

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A Plea To Delaware Parents Of Children With Special Needs And Disabilities #netde #edude

I’ve been doing this blog for less than a week, and I am amazed at how many people have looked at it, and how diverse the audience is.  I am very proud of this.  I’m still new at this, and I have a lot to learn.  When I started this blog journey by telling my son’s special education story from a Delaware Charter school, I promised I had no political agenda.  That has changed.  The only way things can change for these kids is through legislation and hammering the points home to those who need to listen the most.  I am not running for any type of office, but I believe new legislation needs to be passed so children with special needs and disabilities have more rights in the state of Delaware.  I have talked to many parents from different states, and when they hear about the types of things that go on in Delaware in terms of special education, they are shocked.

All special needs parents need to stand united.  We need to stand up to the schools and let them know they are not doing the best they can.  Some teachers do, some special education specialists do, but not nearly enough.  No one knows our children better than we do.  So why must we fight so hard to get our children what they deserve?  Why do we have to go to endless meetings and fight for even the most basic of accommodations?  Is it a funding issue?  Is it that the schools are so arrogant to truly believe they know what is best for OUR children?

Things need to change, and they need to change as soon as possible.  I go to a support group for special needs parents.  Tonight was our last meeting until September, but I know we will all be there to support each other over the summer.  Every town should have one of these groups if they don’t already.  It has helped me, and I know it has helped others.  The biggest thing for these types of groups is confidentiality.  I promised everyone I wouldn’t blog about their experiences!

As parents, we see what our children go through.  We see their daily struggles at school and home.  We know immediately when they need us more than the school.  We know why they do certain things that the schools just don’t seem to understand.  We understand that all their behavior is not intentional.  What we don’t know is why the schools don’t want to get this.

The Delaware Department of Education is having their monthly school board meeting tomorrow in Dover at 1pm in the Townshend Building, across from the new library.  On their agenda is to go over the IDEA Annual Performance Report.  I am very interested to hear what is in this report.  I can guarantee not every single special education matter is in that report.  Many parents who have gone beyond the DOE know this.  The DOE knows this.  So what happens to all of those children who are not accounted for in that report?  According to the DOE website, there are very few due process hearings in Delaware.  Those that don’t go to a due process tend to get resolved through a mediation of some sort.

I spent hours last night going through these reports from the Delaware DOE on their website: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/infosuites/students_family/specialed/cont_improv/default.shtml

The reality is very different than what is depicted in these reports and many of us know this.  The DOE stated in 2010 that all Delaware schools would have a special education audit every three years, broken down into thirds for each year amongst the Delaware schools.  Where are those audit reports?  Why doesn’t the public have access to them?  They have plenty of reports on how the special education students are doing with the “reform” of Delaware schools, whether it is through standardized testing or how they do towards reaching targets for the state performance plan.  Our students are more than just numbers and statistics.  Special education needs to change in this state.  We need to know what is going on in our schools.  The audits are for existing IEPs.  Why aren’t their audits being done on DENIALS?

In 2012, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), a Federal education department, announced they are suspending compliance visits to schools around the country and they are allowing states and school districts to be more accountable for  “positive adult outcomes”.  How is that going to help a 5 year old? A 10 year old?  These are children.  They aren’t going to college or entering the workforce for many years.  This was a huge federal mistake.  This is allowing the schools to be less compliant with special education.

Parents of ADHD, Sensory Processing, Autism, Deaf, Blind, OCD, Tourette’s, and more know this.  But what are we doing about it?  We need to stand as one.  Stand together as a group.  We can’t be heard by ourselves.  Some of us have gone to District House reps or Senators about issues, but nothing ever really changes.  We need to demand change, we need to be loud, we need to be large, and we need to be public.

Our children are the most precious thing we have in our lives.  We all want them to have a better life.  But if the school’s aren’t doing it, then we need to make them change.  The schools and the state government can form all the councils, committees and task forces they want, but at the end of the day we need to be the group that facilitates change.  We need to demand transparency from the schools.  We need to know how many IEPS and 504 plans they have.  It needs to be visible on EACH school’s website.  Not just the DOE website, or hidden away on some Office Of Civil Rights webpage.  I also believe schools should report the number of IEP and 504 denials they have each month.  We owe it to our children to fight for them, to advocate for them.  And the only way we can make the schools change is to force them to be compliant.  We need to do this now more than ever.

Smarter Balanced Assessments are, unfortunately, the wave of the future.  But that future is coming up, and before we know it, teachers will be so wound up in preparing students for these tests because their jobs will depend on it.  There is already legislation coming up that could dramatically affect how teachers are measured in the future.  Everything is tied into Common Core and standardized testing now in Delaware. The implementation began in 2012, but it is in full swing this coming fiscal year.  My fear is this will be horrible for children with disabilities.  Schools will have so much pressure to be the best.  Teachers will feel like their job is on the line if their students don’t do well.  On a test done once a year.  The frustration level for the schools and teachers will be at an all-time high.  If students currently on IEPs or 504s are not fully accommodated, they will resort back to what prompted the IEPs and 504s to begin with.  There is already a zero-tolerance culture in our schools on many types of behavior.  Which can be a good thing, but for special needs students, it’s all about the communication.  Teachers will be so stressed out to begin with, how can we hope they will be able to give 100% to our students with special needs?  Child Find will not be a top priority for our educators.  Behavior issues need to be dealt with immediately is something I am hearing more and more from schools and teachers around the state.  Do not let our children get caught in the crossfire between State demands and stressed-out teachers.

We can not let the Delaware DOE, our schools, and our teachers drop the ball on special education.  Our children do not need to suffer more than they already have because of events beyond our control.  If we let this happen, then we are failing as parents.  I won’t have that kind of weight on my shoulders, nor should any of you want that.  It is time, past time, for us to take control and demand change.  It starts now.

Tomorrow, at the Delaware Board of Education meeting, public commenters are given three minutes to speak.  Come out if you can and talk about the changes you want to see.  I can’t guarantee anything will come of it, but if enough people speak, they can’t ignore us forever.  Go to your district House rep or Senator, and let them know what your issues are.  A lot of them are up for reelection in November, so it would be in their best interest to listen to you.  If not, I would have to assume they don’t want your vote.  Reach out to other candidates running for office.  See what their stance is on special education and Common Core.  In November, make an informed decision based on what is best for OUR children and the state of Delaware.  The way things are set up in Dover right now, party lines are being crossed constantly.  It isn’t just Democrats vs Republicans.  Things are being decided on that have NO public vote, and some that the vast majority of the people don’t want.  Make your vote count in November.

I will be writing more about how we can ALL come together on this.  Whether your child goes to a public, charter, vocational, or alternate school, ALL our children count.  Don’t let your child be stuck on the bottom in the race to the top.  Please contact me at Exceptionaldelaware14@yahoo.com if you have any questions, concerns, or want your story to be told.  We are all in this together!

Welcome To Exceptional Delaware!

Hello everyone, and welcome to the latest blog to hit the First State: Exceptional Delaware!

I am a father of a special need’s son, and you can read all about my family’s journey with a Delaware charter school here: https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/?s=a+father%27s+cry+for+his+son

Everything that happened with my son inspired me to want to do more, not just for him, but all the children in Delaware who have some sort of disorder or disability that gives them special education.  I know a lot about Tourette’s Syndrome, ADHD, OCD, ODD, and Sensory Processing Disorder, but I need to learn about things like Autism, Asperger’s  and other disabilities.

This blog will be a mix of news, interviews, spotlights, investigations, and more!  I believe every single parent in America should know their children’s rights when it comes to special education.  I will be doing features on IDEA, IEPs, 504 Plans, Manifestation Determination, FAPE, Child Find and more.  If anyone has anything they would like to see on here, please feel free to comment or shoot me an email, and I will do my best to make it happen.

I have several ideas for potential legislation that will force all public schools in Delaware to become more transparent about the special education they have in their schools.  I will go into great detail on my ideas in future posts.

To get the best and most truthful education news here in Delaware, I highly recommend you check out Kilroy’s Delaware, Kavips, Transparent Christina, theseventhtype, Children & Educators First, and Parents Of Christina.  If you’re looking for the joys of Common Core, Standardized Testing and Race To The Top, you’ve come to the wrong blog.  I can’t stand any of them, and I will go to great lengths to explain why.

Thank you for visiting, and I hope to see you again soon!