Of “pushy parents” and harried educators

Recently, on discussing issues having to do with my 5 year old with some friends with gifted kids the same age, one of them replied “You have to advocate for your child. The system isn’t set up for individuals, but for the average student. You have to push.”

After I stopped laughing (as I certainly do advocate), we discussed it further, and I realized that while I, as an educator myself, do request accommodation of my child’s needs, it’s always with a smile, a certain amount of chattiness, and a view that we need to collaborate for the benefit of my child, their student.

What my friend was saying was that when friendly requests aren’t effective, and you seem to be judged as a “pushy parent”, anyway, no matter what you do or say, it’s time to simply advocate and make a positive vibe secondary.

I haven’t gotten there yet. I’ve been on the other foot, with parents coming to me, and it’s so unpleasant that I wouldn’t want to inflict it on other educators.

But then I think to myself — all those years struggling in school until I was finally identified. What if my own mother had understood gifted identification issues and advocated for me early? My friend had a point. Why allow your child — who cannot advocate for him or herself — to continue to struggle with the wrong educational fit when you can try to effect change?

And my friend has gotten good results by insisting on her child’s right to a tailored education that meets his needs, and not much caring if she’s liked by the school. Is she correct? Is it about process or outcome?

Anyone want to share their experiences with this type of thing?

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