The Advocate's Teeth-
This past week, I wrote an article about my school district, and their reluctance to jump on the 'we'll pay for all day K' bandwagon. I have been asked if I think 'All Day K' is necessary.
Here is what I think:
I now reside within a state that eliminated it's Early Intervention Program, and cut several other programs that in the past, would have supported children and families with special needs kids.
I benefited from these very programs 12 years ago, when my son missed all his developmental milestones, and was identified as a special needs child. To say that a parent in that moment needs help is an extreme understatement.
Within a week, the Arizona Early Intervention Program had us enrolled in their program, and we were in an Early Head Start program within two weeks. I didn't care what was going on anywhere if it didn't relate directly to helping my child get the help he needed.
Within that Early Head Start Program, I met an extraordinary teacher named Roberta who worked with my son and I, on a daily basis. She did as much for me as she did for my son. She taught me how to see day to day success, and to focus on the things we could do right now. She taught me the value of truly taking everything one day and a time, one goal at a time, and to 'Keep on Keepin' on'.
With Roberta's gentle coaching, I became involved with the regional Early Head Start Council as a parent representative. I was chosen to represent our EHS program at the most amazing conference in Colorado that paired doctors, therapists, and administrators with parents of special needs kids so that this group of people, who were all trying to achieve the same goal, could help one another more effectively.
I met some of the most inspiring people at that conference, and I came home with even sharper advocate skills. I volunteered my services for Early Head Start as a way to pay back the help they had given my son and I, but in reality, there was no way to put a dollar value on what that program had given me.
With great reluctance, when my son 'aged out' of the EHS program, we were moved into the Gilbert Unified School District Amanacer program. I cut my new advocate teeth on anyone who tried to cross me, or who even slightly 'got in the way of progress'. I was highly strung, and I think I made a name for myself at the district office. Did I do the right thing? OH YOU BETCHA!! Was I the most popular parent? OH HELL NO!!
So, when the talk of budget cuts, and cutting the Early Intervention Program comes up, I think of all the people who are not just losing the hours of therapy for their kids, they are losing the opportunity to be lifted up from the absolute bottom, to be shown that the beautiful child they had loved all along, was still right there. They are missing the opportunity to be taught how to become holy terror advocates, ready and willing to maim any unfortunate soul who tries to deny rights to their child. This decision to save a few dollars at the expense of families in extreme need, is going to not only produce children with greater needs from school districts, but also parents who lack the knowledge that they have sharp powerful teeth, and the manual that comes with them.
When talk of spending state funding on additional Kindergarten class time, instead of maintaining programs that are/were so valuable in so many more ways than one, the answer is no.
No I don't.