Showing posts with label Rio Grande Valley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rio Grande Valley. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Reading Buddies for students-Parent Mentors for parents

Parent-to-parent mentoring programs in the Rio Grande Valley are helping parents play a more meaningful role in their children's education. Developed by The University of Texas, the programs are based on the concept of parents helping other parents play a proactive role in ensuring that their children get the most out of their education.

Many parents who comment on this blog, have attested to having times when they or another parent they have contact with have been befuddled by what to do when it comes to dealing with matters of their child’s education.

In just the past two months, I have had three (3) parents whose children have Individual Education Plans (IEPs) reach out to me, in hopes of finding answers. When they went to the school, the answers they got were reactionary and in all cases invited more questions that parent didn’t feel equipped to ask.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of parents with students who have IEPs are uninformed as to exactly what the IEP means to their student’s future. In almost all cases, it will mean that their child will be able to graduate with sub-par reading, writing and arithmetic skills. The student begins to see what it means to their future, as they begin to become angry at teachers and suffer from feelings of being less and feel ashamed. As a result, they may begin to act out.

From Peoria Story regarding class size.
For the 2011 school year, 21% of students in District 150 had an IEP, which is actually a legal contract between the parent and the school. IEPs, that teachers through no fault of their own, simply do not have the time to review, implement, or update until required to do so. Consider the size of the class, factor in the number of IEPs and the fact that the teachers don't get a chance to review the IEPs before the class is fully stocked, it's an equation for disruption.

In some school districts, they have Parent Mentors that are specifically for students who have IEPs. The majority of parents in the inner city are not so fortunate as to have a parent who participated in the PTO, or who may be savvy in dealing with schools. As a result, some parents will need to be empowered to advocate. Another parent could do that for them.

Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, Maryland
Parents also need Mentors to help deal with issues of gifted education and other matters of programming. Teaching and accepting parents who advocate for their student will be a learning process for all involved, as schools will need to realize that a parent who advocates for their child should not be viewed as an adversary, but as a part of the team.

There are some parents who understand how to grow a thirsty student, I am fortunate enough to be able to learn from some of them. However, at this juncture, we need to share our knowledge and an organized effort to mentor parents is warranted.

If the District can't/won't implement a Parent Mentor program, at the very least, they should consider an Ombudsman to assist parents.

A Parent Mentor:
  • Listens and provides support to families and educators on an individual basis.
  • Guides families through the special education process, including rights and responsibilities.
  • Provides information and resources to families on such subjects as education laws and community resources.
  • Attends meetings at the request of parents or staff. These meetings include Individual Educational Program (IEP) meetings, Multi-Factored Evaluation Team meetings (MFE), Intervention Assistance Team (IAT) meetings, Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) team meetings, and more.
  • Organizes and conducts information sessions or workshops based on the needs of families and professionals in the community.
  • Helps build collaborative partnerships between families, schools, and community to benefit students with disabilities.
Reasons to call the Parent Mentor can include situations like these:
  • I'm worried about my child moving from one school to the next.
  • I feel alone and wish I could talk to another parent who understands my concerns. 
  • I feel no one is listening to my concerns about my child.
  • I have questions about my child's education, and I forgot to ask them at the school meeting.
  • I'm worried about my child's progress and am not sure what to do.
  • I would like to have someone attend and support me at an IEP meeting or another meeting at school.
  • I'm not sure if I have all the information I need and would like to speak with someone who can provide information in a "parent-friendly" way.