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What Is an Educational Advocate, And Why Are They so Important for the Education of Our Youth?

My passion is to reach out to families who have children with mild to moderate special needs. It is these, often hidden children that get easily overlooked by teachers and school systems as children that are just not “trying hard enough”.

That phrase alone, sends me and I suspect many parents into an upset. Research has shown over and over that children in these mild to moderate ranges are often seen as “trouble makers”, “attention seekers”, “rowdy”, and worse.

It is easy to see a child in a wheelchair or one who is hard of hearing and recognize they have a disability, but learning disabled children look “like everyone else” is much harder for many people. More often than not these children are in the average to exceptionally bright range of performance. So naturally, they could do “it” if they wanted to, and they just “tried harder”, right? Wrong!!

In 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed to make sure that all Americans were given access to education and employment with accommodations as needed. Within that law was the 504 accommodations under which many children now receive some services.

1974 saw the passage of 94-142 the original IDEA. Children under this law were to receive full Individual Education Plans (IEP). And more recently, the passage and amendments to No Child Left Behind has made big changes. Filled with good intentions it has, in reality, left too many children behind and made adversaries of parents and schoolteachers and administrators.

It created the standard for end of year testing, which stifled creativity for both teachers and students. If it isn’t going to be on the test, why teach it? Instead of raising standards it has lowered them across the board. Children who dare to dream outside the box are unfortunately often labeled “bothersome”. Einstein was Dyslexic (as a reminder that genius is not in a box).

Parents go into school meetings ill prepared for the language and the intent of the meetings. I have met parents leave meetings frustrated, angry and hurt. This sets up a terrible situation of parents against school with neither side listening to each other.

Parents need a professional who will advocate for their child, be able to talk to the school administrators, reach conclusions that enhance the child’s educational situation, and enable the administrators to feel like a part of the process. This delicate balance is the role of the Educational Advocate who can unemotionally seek services as a knowledgeable and objective contributor to the Special Needs Team.

It is both my honor and my pleasure to help children, their parents and the school reach conclusions in a peaceful professional atmosphere.

What do you do to accommodate all students? 

Susan wrote this post in conjunction with Susan Herrera, Alignable’s in-house content coach. Susan works exclusively with Premium and Premium+ users to brainstorm, create, and edit content featuring their expertise to drive inbound traffic.