Category Archives: Education News

Diversity Pioneers In The History Of Diversity Education

Introduction

Diversity education is becoming a solution for many businesses. In the European Union, it is offered to small and medium-sized businesses to develop their capacity to include people of across states in the union and cultures. Australia’s government utilizes diversity education to end a history of discrimination against Aboriginal and Islander people. Asia finds it useful for increasing productivity in multinational companies, and for addressing the historical challenges of achieving harmony between Muslim and Hindu citizens. South Africa has implemented diversity education to adjust to the removal of the Apartheid system. The United States has offered diversity education for decades, although the rationale for its use has changed over time.

This article is limited to characterizing the history of diversity education in the United States. A history of diversity education in other countries and continents will follow in future issues.

Diversity Training and education in the United States

Many organizations, communities, military sectors, and higher education institutions have been conducting some form of diversity education since the 1960s in the United States. Businesses used diversity training in the late 1980s and throughout the 90s to protect against and settle civil rights suits. Many organizations now assume that diversity education can boost productivity and innovation in an increasingly diverse work environment. The assumptions about the value of diversity training, as a result of its changing functions and uses, have evolved over the decades.

Diversity education basically started as a reaction to the civil rights movement and violent demonstrations by activists determined to send a clear message to Americans of European descent that black people would no longer remain voiceless regarding their treatment as citizens. Social change in order to achieve a more stable society prevailed was the rationale for the education, which primarily focused on training to increase sensitivity towards and awareness of racial differences.

Encounter groups became a popular training method for bringing white and black Americans together for honest and emotional discussions about race relations. The military employed encounter groups in what is perhaps the largest scale diversity education experiment ever conducted (Day, 1983). Many of the facilitators viewed the “encounter” among racial group participating in diversity training as successful when at least one white American admitted that he or she was racist and tearful about racial discrimination and white supremacy.

Employing a black-white pair of facilitators was considered essential for exposing participants to the two race relations perspective and to model cross-racial collaboration. The facilitators were typically men, and the white facilitator was most valued if he could openly show emotions about his own journey in discovering his deep-seated racism.

Facilitators saw their work as a way to achieve equality in a world that had historically oppressed those with less social, political, and economic power. Confronting white Americans who made excuses for, or denied their racism, was common in this diversity training approach. The goal was to increase white American sensitivity to the effects of racial inequity.

White American participants tended to respond to confrontation in sensitivity training in three important ways. One group of whites became more insightful about the barriers to race relations as a result of being put on the hot seat during the encounters. Another group became more resistant to racial harmony as they fought against accepting the facilitators’ label of them as racists. A third group became what the military referred to as “fanatics.” These individuals began advocating against any forms of racial injustice after the training.

H. R. Day’s (1985) research on diversity training in the military indicates that the Defense Department Race Relations Institute reduced the amount of training hours and curtailed the use of the “hot seat” techniques in response to negative evaluations by many participants who completed the training. Diversity training in corporations also began to change as Affirmative Action laws were being curtailed by the federal government.

While gender diversity education began to emerge during the 1970s and 1980s, diversity education in the United States expanded in the 1990s to focus on barriers to inclusion for other identity groups. Ability difference, ethnic, religious, gay, lesbian, and other worldviews began to appear in education and training.

Some diversity pioneers argue that the broader view of diversity has “watered down” the focus on race to the extent that it is no longer seriously dealt with in training. Their assumption is that focusing on prejudice towards other groups does not activate the visceral reaction needed for individuals, organizations, and the society as whole to deal with core discrimination issues.

Recent research shows that people in the United States have more negative reactions towards people who are gay or lesbian (Devine & Monteith, 1993). It seems that many Americans share an anti-gay and lesbian attitude, primarily based on religious beliefs. However, even the attitude towards gays and lesbians is becoming more positive way, as indicated by the success of the movie Brokeback Mountain about two cowboy lovers, and the introduction of legislation that protects their rights (Vaughn, 2002).

Multiculturalism refers to the inclusion of the full range of identity groups in education. The goal is to take into consideration each of the diverse ways people identify as cultural beings. This perspective has become the most widely used approach today in diversity education. The inclusion of other identity groups poses the challenges of maintaining focus on unresolved racial discrimination and effectively covering the many different identity groups.

The current focus on white privilege training in one sector of diversity work maintains a place for racism in diversity education. White privilege education involves challenging white people to consider the benefits they reap individually as a member of the racial group with the most social, political, and economic power.

While white privilege, multiculturalism, and racism work are each very important, diversity professionals must keep in mind that organizations vary in diversity education needs. Determining how to meet these needs requires the trainer to possess critical thinking skills and an ability to facilitate issues outside of her or his cultural experience. The capable diversity professional has the ability to determine when race education is the suitable intervention, when gender orientation is called for, when addressing homophobia is necessary, etc.

Discussions about gender differences, sexual orientation, Native American identity, Latino empowerment, white privilege, etc. provide a rich context for understanding the complexity of American diversity. Today’s savvy diversity trainer has the expertise to take a multicultural perspective in facilitating and training, and he or she commands knowledge of the range of identity groups. Giving each identity group the attention it deserves is no small matter as a result.

The reality of global mobilization has required an even broader view of diversity work due to working with an increasingly cross-national audience. The use of the label African American, for example, is complicated by white and black Africans immigrating to the United States. An organization may have employees from the former Yugoslavia, refugees from Somalia, guest workers from India, and people with limited English-speaking skills-just to name a few modern diversity challenges. Religious diversity accompanies globalism, which is also included in modern diversity education.

It is likely that this complexity of identity group needs prompted diversity professionals like Judith Katz to focus on promoting inclusive organizations. The objective is to remove the barriers to productivity for every member of the organization with particular concern for historically excluded group members.

Another recent change is the emphasis on diversity education, rather than diversity training. While the use of one term versus another is regularly debated, it is a valuable exchange of ideas. From the author’s perspective, the term diversity education both broadens the view of what diversity programs within organizations are about and manages the often negative connotation diversity training activates. Perhaps more important is that the term allows us to distinguish between diversity training and other programmatic activities among diversity practices.

In addition, diversity expertise has changed over time, which partly reflects changing demands and the growth in the field’s body of knowledge. A description of the profession before the rise of the chief diversity officer tells us a lot about what diversity professionals faced as consultants.

Diversity Pioneers

Diversity professionals are hired on staff in organizations that understand that diversity is capital and harnessing it in the service of productivity requires a long term commitment. An in-house diversity professional is responsible for leading a diversity initiative within an organization. Some have the title chief diversity officer or vice president of diversity, while others are considered diversity coordinators or steering committee chairs. Regardless of what they are called, these positions are becoming increasingly prevalent in organizations. Not long ago, a human resource officer would hire a consultant or trainer to handle a diversity matter with sensitivity-awareness training as the expected the solution.

Diversity pioneers laid the foundation for the emergence of today’s diversity leaders. A diversity pioneer is someone who has been in the profession for more than twenty years, which includes those who have served either as an in-house or consulting professional. The in-house professionals are activists for diversity, inclusion and fairness. It is the contributions of external consultants and trainers that is the focus in this article.

Here is a list of diversity pioneers in the United States:

o Elsie Cross

o Price Cobb

o Sybil Evans

o John Fernandez

o Lee Gardenswartz

o Lewis Griggs

o Ed Hubbard

o Judith Katz

o Frances Kendall

o Fred Miller

o Patricia Pope

o Ann Rowe

o Donna Springer

o Roosevelt Thomas

The list is based on data collected a couple of years ago by Diversity Training University International students. An editorial staff member brought to the author’s attention that he began his diversity teaching and consulting career in 1986. His initial reaction was feeling intimidated by the thought of placing his name on a list with such an esteemed group of pioneers.

Few diversity pioneers had specialized training when starting out in the business. Louis Griggs, for example, is a Stanford MBA. Judith Katz had a more closely related background with a doctorate from University of Massachusetts that focused on race relations. She also taught in the University of Oklahoma Human Relations Program for ten years prior to entering the business sector as a fulltime consultant.

The author is trained as an applied research cultural- cognitive psychologist at the University of California, San Diego. After receiving the doctorate in 1986, he taught cultural competence for nearly two decades. Each diversity pioneer had had to learn about how to navigate the landmines in diversity work while on the front lines as consultants, trainers, and educators.

What the pioneers may have lacked in credentials specific to the diversity profession, they more than made up for with the bumps and bruises they endured in the trenches of just doing the work.

Raising the Bar

Judith Katz was a student activist for social justice in the late 1960s. Judith began her diversity profession by focusing on racism from a white American perspective. By the mid 1980s she was working for The Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group. Affirmative action was at its height, and many companies utilized independent diversity professionals to provide programs to help increase the numbers of African Americans and women employees. Some organizations utilized diversity training to safeguard against civil rights suits during this period of time. Much of the training “focused primarily on black-white racial issues and sexism”, according to Judith, “with little if any attention given to, Latino, Asian, sexual orientation, age or people with disabilities.”

Judith also noticed that the business case in those days emphasized diversity as doing the right thing, rather than as a business imperative. People were expected to fit into the existing organizational culture. It was difficult at the time to effect real organizational change.

“The major change is that diversity is now accepted as a key business driver, rather than diversity for diversity’s sake.” This was accompanied by a shift away from the confrontational approach common in the early stages of diversity education history. According to Judith, “for some folks diversity was about compliance (the concern about law suits) for others it was about increasing individual diversity awareness. The confrontational approach to raising individual awareness did not create systems change in the long run. Some individuals became more aware but the very systems, structures and processes often remained unchanged. Judith notes that many organizations still approach diversity from a compliance perspective but, more and more organizational leaders are going well beyond that. They understand that “if you are not leveraging diversity, you are not in the game of business today.”

Judith is concerned about the challenges that continue to face diversity professionals as well as chief diversity officers. The following is a list of some of her concerns for in-house professionals who lead diversity initiatives:

o Diversity leaders must contend with organizational leaders who give lip service to the diversity initiative without putting their hearts and souls into it or offer it the necessary resources for success.

o As a result, diversity leaders too often shoulder the full weight of the diversity initiative.

o They can get too buried in the work to be effective.

o They are expected to partner with many different parts of the organization, which contributes to additional stress.

o They work alone and are expected to single-handedly get a very difficult job done.

o They are expected to manage a highly political role while getting their job done and legally protecting the organization.

The result is that leading the diversity initiative can be a very difficult, demanding, and lonely job from Judith’s perspective.

Judith believes that leaders of organizations need to “raise its bar” for expectations in delivering results from the diversity initiative. This is the best way to support the diversity officer. A good example is to make people in the organization accountable for contributing to promoting inclusion-especially managers and supervisors. Linking bonuses and merit pay to clear diversity and inclusion metrics is seldom given serious consideration in even the top fifty diversity companies. But this obviously raises the bar of expectations and performance.

Thanks to Judith, diversity consultants and trainers have a role model. In the author’s opinion, she is one of the few who can successfully engage business leaders in serious discussions about organizational inclusion.

Valuing Diversity

Valuing diversity is a term that’s used quite a bit these days in making a case for diversity and inclusion-Thanks to Lewis Griggs. When he coined the words during the early 1980s, his clients thought it was “too touchy-feely.” It wasn’t affirmative action or equal employment opportunity language. One African American male colleague told him that the terminology was downright dangerous because white America was not ready to value people for their differences. But, fortunately for us, he had a vision.

Lewis is a European American who came to diversity work through his own individual growth experiences. Griggs says “While doing international training during the early 1980s, I realized that people from other countries had more knowledge about me as an American than I had about them. This meant the ‘other’ had more power over me in our interactions. I discovered how ethnocentric I was.” Griggs figured that if he was ethnocentric about people from other countries, then “Could I be ethnocentric here in the United States?”

Griggs continued to do ground breaking work. He developed a series of valuing diversity videos. Then he developed one of the first online diversity training programs. The annual diversity conference offered by the Society of Human Resource Management was created by Lewis. Thanks to Lewis, increasing numbers of organizations have embraced the idea that we need to value differences.

Avoiding a Backlash

The higher education sector started offering diversity courses in the general education curricula during the 1980s. Stanford University and the California State University at Fullerton, for example, dared to offer mandatory cultural diversity courses to fulfill general education requirements. There was considerable debate among academicians about whether or not the canon needed protection against including diversity courses.

The author found himself in the middle of the cultural wars as a new assistant professor with a joint appointment in Ethnic Studies and psychology. His training made it easy to interweave cultural differences into developmental, social, and cognitive psychology courses. He also taught mandatory general education diversity courses. The primarily European American, politically conservative students were very resistant to the required courses.

Students resisted less as the courses integrated into the curricula over the years, but many continued to struggle with the material due to difficulty with accepting values and beliefs different from their own.

Recruitment of historically excluded group members, especially students of color, was the primary focus at most universities. No one would seriously listen to ideas about creating an inclusive organization before increasing the numbers of students of color. The attitude was “let’s just get as many students of color in as possible and worry about how to retain them later”. Retaining and graduating these historically excluded students became major problems as the numbers of recruits increased.

The author also witnessed incredible gains in attracting students of historically excluded groups and creating an inclusive environment-only to see those gains undermined by changes in the leadership and economic climate. The lesson learned is that sustainable diversity and inclusion initiatives require an on-going commitment to remove all the barriers that can lead to reverting to old ways of doing business (Fenn, J. & Goforth-Irving, C., 2005). Diversity and inclusion must, for example, be part of each and every new initiative that comes along in order to protect the organization from moving back to earlier inclusion stages.

As economic, political, and global changes required new ways of solving old problems, the pioneers experienced many bumps in the road. This brief history suggests that their sheer determination and commitment built an invaluable foundation from which we all can draw meaningful lessons. This magazine is designed as a solution for building on the pioneers’ foundation so that we can better manage the impact of inevitable environmental changes that impact diversity work.

Future Education In The Age Of The Implanted Brain Information and Communication Chip

Not long ago, I was discussing with a future Think Tank member his concerns about how education in North America and around the world is not keeping up with technology, or ready for the future of computer-brain interfaces. This may sound like an esoteric topic, however when you consider the speed of these technologies, I am sure we’ve already all thought about how in the future, your smart phone will be nothing more than a brain-chip with full Internet Access that works with your organic brain in real-time. Want to send a thought, just think it, think about whom you’d like to send this thought to, and it’s sent, post on social media and you are done.

Want to learn a new topic, no need, you have instant access to all human information, and it will feel as if it is all in your own memory, just think a question and viola, you have the answer. My think tank acquaintance noted that we are a ways off from that future, and if the past is any indication of how we might handle that future, then we are in big trouble. Education is broken already, and it will not be able to adapt to something that different. He noted we need to fix all the rote memorization teaching, it isn’t working. And, I would submit to you that it will be even worse in the future, in fact; why memorize anything if you have full-time unlimited access to all the information ever created and stored in the cloud of humanity?

So what he is saying is that we have to teach people to THINK, not just put the students in rows, open their skulls and pour information in to them, which is what pedagogy has been for most of the 20th century and now to for a lot of this century. I of course agree. If we integrate the brain-chip or implanted information, or access to all human information in real time to the brain, it will only work if the human user has enough foresight to ask the right questions, and cross-pollinate the information in an innovative and creative way. This is something that humans are good at, when they practice it, and as of yet, AI computers are not so good at. Together (AI + human brains) it will be smarter than either on its own, smarter than today’s human and smarter than a future AI computer chip w/instant access to all human information to date and up on all new information in real-time.

The increase in IQ wouldn’t matter. Everyone would be super smart and retain unlimited information in the cloud storage device or set of distributive cloud computers around the planet. The best and most creative minds would use this information in the most novel ways, ask the best questions and have most of those questions answered to pose new ones. The speed of innovation would be so intensive that Ray Kurzweil’s “Singularity” theory would be realized in short order.

Researching Special Education Schools for Your Child

Research on learning disabilities strongly supports early intervention in children who struggle academically. Children with a learning disability who receive proper attention and support to develop their weak areas are just as likely to be successful students as their peers without a disability, so long as their weaknesses are discovered early. Parents of students who need extra attention might want to consider special education schools. Learning about options in your area can help you select the right program.

The first place to start your search may be with an independent evaluation. A team of psychologists and social workers can evaluate your child to determine his or her eligibility. These learning experts may also recommend additional testing if they suspect that the student falls along the autism or language-based learning disabilities spectrum. Further evaluation may help pinpoint your child’s weakness or give some indication of the type of remediation that may be beneficial.

Once you have an idea of your child’s needs, start looking at the options your area. Making a list of priorities for your family can help narrow down your choices. Your list should include practical matters, such as location, transportation, availability of after-hours care and financial requirements are some examples.

Additionally, academic programs and resources should factor into your decision. Consider whether your student will benefit from tutors, assistive technology and smaller class size. Research the school’s policy on extended time or other accommodations for testing whether classes can be scheduled in a flexible manner. Many people with learning disabilities are of average or above average intelligence. Opportunities to participate in International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement courses or a gifted program may be an important consideration. On the other hand, others learn best in a non-competitive environment in which lessons are project- or theme-based.

Finally, take the campus facilities and culture into consideration. Participating in extracurricular programs and sports can teach teamwork and sportsmanship to students who have trouble with social interactions. Conflict-resolution programs or a firm discipline policy may benefit some students.

Parents should also visit special education schools before making a decision. During your visit, sit in on a class to make sure that students receive enough individual attention. If the special education school utilizes a particular curriculum with which you are unfamiliar, request information about the program’s philosophy and methods. Ask questions about how study periods or homework sessions are structured. Teachers and administrators should have a system for providing regular updates about your child’s progress, so be certain that you are satisfied with the level of communication you can expect. Finally, ask for phone numbers of parents with children enrolled in the school before ending your visit. Speaking with parents of students who currently attend the school is a great way to find out more about the program.

Parents are the best advocates for children with learning disabilities. Exploring the educational options available and selecting the most effective special education curriculum can help ensure his or her academic success.

Digital Devices Driving Autism Education

Computers have always proved to be excellent gadgets to facilitate communication and learning for children with autism spectrum disorder. Now, with the emergence of smart phones and the iPad, autistic children have greater opportunities for improving their cognitive, communication and motor skills.

Various organizations that are engaged in supporting families living with autistic kids, have developed apps and programs like “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences” that are amazing tools. These autism education apps promote learning among special needs children.

Why digital devices?

Autism apps like “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences” running on smart phones and iPads provide greater flexibility and portability than a traditional laptop or computer. These latest digital devices utilize touch screen technology which makes them more accessible to autistic children, especially those who have coordination and learning difficulties. Most of the children using an iPad find that the sliding and tapping motions are much easier to execute than typing. Besides, smart phones and tabs can be taken wherever you want to go. They are much lighter than the bulky assistive communication gadgets of the past and that’s a major advantage of using these devices.

Tabs, smart phones, and iPads are great tools for communication and education, which if one of the several reasons why the “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences” autism apps have become hugely popular among special needs children. Apps like these can be customized to the specific needs of the autistic child using them. This helps to make the lessons more attractive and interesting that the conventional learning devices. It has been noticed that many children can use these gadgets better than adults.

The world of autistic children is full of imagery. Words have a lesser importance to them. The “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences” autism education apps freely use images to help children string together words and create sentences, and solve mathematics problems. In this way, special needs children are able to communicate with educators, instructors, counselors, and parents sans any frustration.

The benefits

Autism apps like “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences”, running on iPads and tabs, offer huge benefits. The direct touch screen ensures that no stylus or mouse is required for input functions. The most important point is that the apps are predictable, accessible, and easily organized. They help breaking down lessons to discrete topics or chunks that make learning more enjoyable. Special needs and autistic children can learn in a better way through the “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences” autism apps.

Considerations in Distance Education for the Medical Assistant Instructor

Medical Assistant distance education is emerging to meet the demands of a new generation of students in the twenty first century. St. Augustine Medical Assistant School distance education program for medical assistant presents a good model for this integration of technology with medical assistant education. Distance education, particularly in its most recent form, online education, is being integrated into even the most cautious and conservative of educational institutions. Yet the impact of these alternative forms of teaching and learning on students, faculty, and institutions has yet to be broadly or deeply studied. New models such as that at St. Augustine Medical Assistant School are immerging. St. Augustine Medical Assistant School is available at: http://www.medicalassistant.us

Distance education is not new, and can be traced as far back as the first century. The Apostle Paul wrote to the early Christian churches, instructing them from a distance (even when he was under ‘house arrest’ in Rome). This was probably the first type of ‘correspondence course’, which was the only method of learning at a distance until the advent of the telephone. Today, distance education and in particular online medical assistant instruction calls upon an impressive range of technologies to enable medical assistant instructor and the medical assistant student who are separated by distance to communicate with each other either in real time (synchronous) or delayed time (asynchronous). Currently and asynchronous model used at St. Augustine Medical Assistant School to instruct medical assistant students. This has proven to be a very effective model however the medical assistant program is currently investigating the benefits of synchronous online medical assistant instruction and the benefits it may have for the medical assistant student.

Medical Assistant distance learning epitomizes the move away from institute based learning to a more direct, student centered approach. As a concept, distance learning has existed for over a century, notably in the form of paper based correspondence courses including the less formal correspondence education for medical assistants. Now however, distance education is depending increasingly upon technology for its success and technological innovations ensure that distance learning for the medical assistant continues to evolve and grow as a valid and potent force in all forms of education for the medical assistant.

The task of the medical assistant distance educator is therefore to obviate these problems as much as possible by mixing and matching techniques, creating and maintaining a stimulating environment, and offering opportunities for medical assistant students to communicate with each other and with the medical assistant teaching staff on a regular basis. The medical assistant educators will also need to change their traditional role as well. Many remote medical assistant students need a great deal of social support, and medical assistant distance educators may find themselves spending more time offering one-to-one tutorials and less time lecturing. St. Augustine Medical Assistant School at http://www.MedicalAssistant.us is leading today’s technology in medical assistant education.

When designing medical assistant educational systems and materials for medical assistant distance in delivery the medical assistant teacher must consider not only learning outcomes, but also centered requirements and technical constraints for the medical assistant. Also to be considered are the needs, characteristics, and individual differences of both the students, the teachers and future medical assistants.

Medical assistant distance education for the medical assistant then, should not be viewed as a means of reducing costs, but as an opportunity to raise standards. It is also about providing quality medical assistant learning opportunities for those who, for one reason or another, have previously been excluded from this basic human right. Medical Assistant distance education will quickly become the norm and not the exception for the twenty first century medical assistant. St. Augustine Medical Assistant School distance education program for medical assistant presents a good model for this integration of technology with medical assistant education. The St. Augustine Medical Assistant model can be reviewed at: www.medicalassistant.us.

The Strength of Education

Strength comes in different forms. A person who displays and utilizes physical attributes is considered to be strong. Someone who demonstrates calmness in times of stress or trouble could be thought of as emotionally strong. An individual exhibiting an above-average intellectual capacity could be classified as mentally strong. Educational strength, though not as widely acknowledged, is a life-changer capable of helping anyone who develops it.

Quality education produces the kind of strength life can be built upon. Its foundation is reinforced with the fortitude of knowledge, its pillars erected from the support of wisdom, and its structure solidified with the cement of confidence. Without it, the winds of chance and circumstance can blow through one’s existence like a hurricane in a treehouse.

Reading today’s reports on the challenges facing public schools would leave readers shaking their heads and thinking, why bother? Poverty, classroom size, family issues, technological inadequacy, bullying – physically and online, student attitudes, student health – obesity at epidemic levels, parental under-involvement or over-involvement, funding… when taken together, it’s no wonder such a bleak and negative picture presents itself.

Education is the Bedrock of Our Future

The truth is, we have to care because our future depends on it. The power of education is enduring, and it forms a bedrock for understanding and addressing the critical issues facing our country and the world in the 21st-century. Contrary to pessimistic headlines emanating from critics of public education, success stories are rampant in schools struggling to overcome the ever-present challenges and obstacles to daily learning.

Education, particularly in our public school system, has received a bad, and some would say unfair, rap. Accentuating the negative is, unfortunately, what makes news headlines far more frequently than positive stories which occur daily in classrooms across the country. Teachers labor intensively every day to build academically strong students who will be able to apply that strength throughout life.

Students from all walks of life are being provided quality education that will make a profound difference in their lives, and in their communities. Learning the three R’s and discovering their connection and meaning to the world outside school walls, is creating the kind of strength only literacy can provide.

Educational Strength Gives Birth to New Ideas

Educational strength gives birth to ideas and options crucial for dealing with some of the most serious issues facing the United States, and the entire planet. Discovering sustainable solutions to address present and future concerns, can only be accomplished through ongoing public education development, and a dedicated commitment to interactive instruction, engaged learning and quality graduates.

More than ever, societal issues are impacting our students and their search for a meaningful and productive life. Poverty continues to be a major contributor to academic failure. Among children under the age of 18 in the United States, 41 percent are classified low-income and nearly 19 percent – one in five – are considered poor and living in poverty.

Statistics like these represent sobering, and in many cases, insurmountable factors in the near-term, for achieving the kind of scholastic success needed to permanently reverse the continuous trend of ‘disadvantaged disengagement‘ in our schools. However, through education we find knowledge, and through knowledge comes hope. Hope for the future, and hope for a better life. We find strength.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” – Maya Angelou

5 Qualities of a Good Special Education Advocate

Are you the parent of a child with autism that is having a dispute with school personnel, and would like some help? Are you the parent of a child with a learning disability, or another type of disability, that could use an advocate to help you in getting an appropriate education for your child? This article will give you 5 qualities that make a good special education advocate

An advocate is a person that has received special training, that helps parents navigate the special education system. In some cases the advocate is a parent of a child themselves, but this is not always the case. Before you hire an advocate check on their experience, and also make sure that the advocate is familiar with your child’s disability, so that they are able to advocate effectively

Qualities:

1 A good advocate must be familiar with the federal and state education laws that apply to special education, and be willing to use them, when needed. This is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), State rules for special education (how they will comply with IDEA), and No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The advocate does not have to memorize the laws, but should have a basic knowledge of what is in them. The advocate must also be willing to bring up the laws, at IEP meetings, if this will benefit the child.

2. A good advocate should not make false promises to parents. If an advocate tells you. that they will get the services that you want for your child, be leery! Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in special education, and advocates should not promise things that they may not be able to get. An experienced advocate who knows the law and your school district, should have a sense about what can be accomplished.

3. A good advocate should be passionate about your child, and the educational services that they need. Advocacy sometimes takes a lot of time. If the person helping you is not passionate about your child, they may not be willing to help you for the length of time that it takes to get your child an appropriate education.

4. A good advocate must be willing to stand up to special education personnel, when they disagree with them, or when the school personnel tell a lie. If the advocate you pick, has every quality, but is not willing to stand up to school personnel, he or she will not be an effective advocate for your child.

5. A good advocate is detail oriented, and makes sure that any services promised by special education personnel, are put in writing. A good advocate will read the IEP before they leave the meeting, and bring up any changes that should be made. Sometimes the little details are what makes for success!

By keeping in mind these 5 qualities, you will be better equipped to finding an advocate that will be able to help you, get an appropriate education for your child.

What Is the Relationship Between My Education and Oppression Today?

The expression of education and oppression in today’s modern society can be traced to the very premise upon which the institutions of education are predicated. Theologian Cardinal Newman’s views[1] on education shed light on this meaning, “This implies that its object is, on the one hand, intellectual not moral; and on the other, that is the diffusion and extension of knowledge rather than the advancement (p. 122)”. Here we find the very idea of my own journey into higher education specifically in the context of my Catholic faith. The numerous sources described various situations were ideological choices of purpose are bestowed upon the students. In one case the affluent student must continue the rise of his family honor and in the next case the poor student seeks “liberation” (p. 124).

My own story is one of seeking liberation from a “historically oppressed minority” (p. 126). Choosing this type of Catholic education at Creighton resonates with me. The correlation of stagnancy and ignorance to lack of education seem very real as I am sure is does to the Native Americans in Pine Ridge and Rosebud Lakota (p. 133). Creighton University has taught me that through upright character and the art of Christian living (pp. 128-129) that action follows faith. Theologian Michael J. Buckley, S.J. captured this idea with, “a new orientation towards social action and efficacy and a conjunction between literary education and moral and religious formation” (p. 128).

In today’s world of mammon allowing for access to education, I would not have chosen this path if not for my inherent knowledge that my whole person will be evaluated in the context of my community. The pathway forward out of oppression for me is to serve the greater good. This includes my family and the community of like-minded people working for God’s glory. It is this type of education even in this online format that makes the end goal of being a “better human being” (p. 130) possible.

Lack of Education Contributes to Crime

As more and more low-income families move into neighborhoods that once catered to the middle or upper class, one must be on the lookout for his own personal safety and report any criminal activity going on in their surroundings. Crime is everywhere in these neighborhoods where kids find too much time on their hands after school hours or after the school year lets out.

What also contributes to the crime rate in such places? Is it just the lack of money for low income families? Sometimes, crime can be attributed to the lack of education on the part of the perpetrator or their families.

It is a statistical fact that the crime rate is inversely proportional to the education level of the culprit. Kids who grow up in families that do not stress the importance of getting an education are more likely to be living out on the streets, doing drugs, joining gangs, or ending up in prison.

Sometimes parents who raise such kids were raised in similar conditions when they were youngsters. Nothing has changed. An education should be foremost on parents’ minds when rearing their kids. In fact, an education is the key out of poverty. As the old saying goes, “The way out of the gutter is with a book and not a basketball.”

Kids who do not have a good education in school are more likely to have difficulty with finding jobs, getting into college, or staying out of trouble with the law. Many times they have family issues that are attributed to the loss of a parent at a young age due to a death or an incarceration.

Kids from single-parent homes run that risk of growing up as an “at-risk” child. This is due to the fact that the parent must work to provide food and shelter for the child, and the absence of the other parent fails to provide leadership and guidance for a growing mind. A parent who is incarcerated will definitely not be around to guide the child to getting good grades in school.

What kind of message does an incarcerated parent send to a child? Is it okay to be dumb and stupid and end up in prison like their daddy? Like father, like son. Right? Is it okay to skip school and join a gang like their daddy once did?

The truth of the matter is that kids who drop out of school will face hardship in their lives as they grow older. Lack of education on their part means lack of money to support a family. Lack of money translates into robbing a bank or convenience store.

We hear in the news every day a robbery that occurs in our city or elsewhere. Or perhaps a shooting on the part of the perpetrator that caused an innocent life come to an abrupt halt.

What are kids doing nowadays? How can we prevent our own kids from becoming troubled kids? For one, a parent must be a good role model and stress the importance of a good education. That means the parents must take an active role in their child’s education by monitoring how much television the child is allowed to watch and taking charge of knowing the kinds of friends that his child associates with. Furthermore, this means maintaining communication with his teachers at school and looking over his report card regularly.

A child with poor academic performance may indicate something wrong at school. Perhaps he does not like school due to external influences; i.e. bullying, difficult teachers, taunting by other students, or peer pressure.

It is better to catch the child’s problem as early as possible before it comes to the point that the child is truant from school, or worse, acts out his frustration that is reflected in another Virginia Tech-like massacre.

A child should like his studies and should show interest in his schoolwork. He should be taught that good grades will help him get a good education so that he can get a good paying job and be a productive member of society after he graduates.

Teach your child that involvement in gangs, violence, drugs, and/or extortion will not get him anywhere but prison. Once a person ends up doing life in prison, there IS no second chance. There is no freedom for him. There is no TV, no video games, no music, nothing! Not even a chance to get an education behind bars. If there is school in prison, the education is very limited.

If you are raising a child, question your child as to what is going on in school if he/she displays academic difficulty. Spend some quality time with him/her. Help them with their homework if possible. Remember, you are not just his/her friend, you are their parents. You are the first role model that a child looks toward from infancy. So be a good one and teach him/her what is right by staying in school.

There is a story in Austin, Texas a few years ago. It involved a troubled 17-year-old kid, Manuel Cortez, a high school dropout, who went out with his friends in a stolen car one sunny afternoon, and shot another student, Christopher Briseno, whom he did not even know because Briseno allegedly was teasing the sister of Manuel’s friend. Manuel Cortez is now serving life in prison because he made a stupid decision. Now families of the victim and the perpetrator are suffering two losses from society. All for what? Because Mr. Cortez chose to drop out of school and associate with gangs and/or violence? He chose to give up the possibility of an education so that he can run around gang banging? Or did he not have the proper support and guidance from his parents?

Special Education and the Importance of Collaboration

Collaboration means working with an individual or a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. Its importance is most visible in education. Every day, teachers work together with their peers, school counselors, and other staff for the success of each student. And when it comes to special education, collaboration becomes the single most important thing for a teacher.

A teacher for special education has to collaborate with school administrators, general education teachers, school therapists, psychologists, and parents and guardians. Students with mild disability have now been included in regular classroom teaching, according to the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act. This has led to general and special education teachers working together, often with the help of the best fun educational apps. The role of the educator in a general classroom, involves teaching the curriculum and assessing and evaluating special children. It’s important that a the educator brings in a set of personal skills to enhance student learning. Skills of both the general teacher and the special educator should come together to help a student.

A special educator has to work closely with the school management. It’s a vital part of the job. Working with the management will help the special teacher follow the necessary laws and procedure, work with individualized education plan (IEP), and make sure that special children are accommodated in the appropriate classroom. It’s always important to forge a strong relationship with these people for ensuring the success of a special student.

Working with parents is a major challenge for all special education teachers. It’s important to make strong and regular contact. It’s a nice idea to allow parents come and volunteer in the classroom, so that both the educator and the parent can help the children. A special child can obviously relate more to a parent. If parents explain the use of the best fun educational apps for kids, it’s likely to be more believable to the children.

Working with school therapists and psychologists is another key collaboration of a special educator. A therapist can inform the educator about the limitations of a special child. He/she may even recommend the best fun educational apps for kids so that special children pick up social skills faster. The educator, on his/her part, can update the therapist on how a child is progressing. The therapist is also responsible for diagnosis of a special child.

The work of the school psychologist is also largely similar. They too test children for disabilities and ensure that the IEP is being properly followed.

Collaboration is an important part of a special educator’s job, regardless of which part of school education he/she is involved with. Whether it’s working with the school administration, other teachers, parents, guardians, counselors, or therapists, a special educator has to work as part of a team for the betterment of special children. The needs of a special child are much different from that of a neuro-typical. Besides, each child is different. The best fun educational apps can keep the child engaged besides imparting important social skills.