photo- this morning on my cell phone
One of the blogs I follow on a regular basis is by Joeymom. She's a great mom who teaches art history in Virginia (and how could I not like a mom who names her kid Joe?). In one of her recent posts, "The Parent Role at an IEP Meeting", she very humorously recounted how being a parent at an IEP meeting is like being a passenger on a plane.
...However, on an IEP Flight, you as the passenger are also expected to understand how to fly the plane, serve the other passengers, and have full knowledge of how to maintain and even fix mechanical and other problems mid-flight. If an engine falls off, you're expected to know how to safely land the plane, re-attach the engine, and get the whole mess back in the air. The pilot won't set course or work the instruments unless you spefically request that s/he do so, and then often says they don't have the resources for working the controls anyway, and besides, do you really NEED to work all those buttons, levers, and gauges? Can't you see fron the windshield where you are going? When you go to find resources to help, you find a flight simulator; but you soon find it is either for an outdated cockpit, a simplified cockpit, or when you go to actually request the controls be worked properly, you are told that you just had simulator training, the pilot has had real flight time! So you try to sign up for flying lessons. Now you're told that you're still just an amateur. But they still won't work the controls unless you specifically ask them to do so, and say exactly what to do and exactly when. ...
While I found Joeymom's description very amusing, I thought it was not quite right, as the flight crew on a plane are personally invested in having a safe flight for themselves, as well as the passengers. If the plane crashes, they're also out of luck. That's not true with our kids' educations. I suggested that perhaps IEP's are more akin to being forced to work with a contractor who only builds wood houses, except that you have supplied him stucco to work with.
While out on a bike ride this morning, I was thinking of another analogy of what it's like to work with the IEP "team".
Say you are a cyclist, and a new road is being built in your neighborhood. The law says that cyclists are entitled to ride on the roads, but most motorists in their cars are not cyclists, and don't particularly appreciate having cyclists "clogging up" their roads. You have to go to the municipal meeting/department of transportation/whoever is in charge of building the road to convince them of what they need to do to make the new roads friendly and accessable for bicycles.
The problem is, although people on this committee have read about cycling and road construction, none of them is a cyclist, and many of them also feel that you are asking for something extra when you are talking to them regarding things such as bicycle friendly road grates, bicycle lanes, and traffic signal sensors that recognize cyclists.
The people on the committee also let you know that they are the professionals, not you, so you should just leave everything to them. They seem not to be able to comprehend plain language suggestions made by you, and insist that everything be put into the technical language that they are accustomed to using.
The committee tells you that there is only so much money for road construction, and they can't afford to spend so much accomodating cyclists. After all, they are already putting in curb cuts for wheelchairs, why should they also have to spend money accomodating you, too?
And all you keep asking for is a way to get to your destination using your bike.
So, how would you describe an IEP (or whatever your country's equivalent) meeting?