A rare bit of good news. We had an IEP meeting last week at the Department of Education office, and everything went right. Due process wasn’t trampled. Laws weren’t blatantly broken. Best of all, Blitzen’s absurd classification was corrected. She’ll now have better options if she attends public school someday.
Not to state the obvious, but kids in care are disproportionately diagnosed with behavioral, emotionally and learning disabilities and have epically bad educational outcomes.
Carrie and I work in education and have genius relatives with huge expertise in special ed. We have a team of education experts through our agency. We’re persistent, ferocious and well-resourced. Despite that, it took 2.5 years to change a mistake that everyone agreed was egregious and obvious.
Let’s save the big conversations about American education for another time when we’re ready to consider institutional racism, economic violence, adultism, corporate influence, our desire to separate Children Destined for Success from Troubled Kids and the anachronism of 19th century factory-model schools in an information age. But are there little things we can do to support kids in care long before we succeed in reinventing public education?
Blitzen has had many addresses and attended many schools. Her records haven’t moved with her. Can we encourage school stability for kids in care? Can we better share access to records from school to school?
As foster parents, Carrie and I were extremely limited in our ability to access due process and remedy errors, negligence and incompetence. Any time we made requests or appeals, the first response was a variation on “Only the birth parent can request that.” Eventually we’d always get Blitzen’s mom’s signature, but it became a way for the DOE to delay, postpone and avoid action. Can we make it easier for foster parents and social workers to advocate for kids? Does anyone have policy fixes that we should be supporting? (I assume the Annie Casey Foundation has recommendations if I look carefully enough.)