Readers Talk Back - October 2002

SparkAction
October 13, 2002
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Parent Involvement in Schools
The following readers saw our public service ads and offered their observations and questions on parent involvement in education:

 

    As a senior in a very large public HS diagnosed with ADHD inattentive type, my daughter has been insulted by teachers, was told "you don't want your teachers to think you're disabled, do you?" ... and basically told she has to be accountable for her own education with or without support from teachers.

    Finally, as of April 2002, she has a 504 plan that merely allows her to take extended time on tests ... sit in the front of the class and (supposedly) receive a syllabus for each class. She has been offered none of these things without eyes rolling and often, outright refusal."

    Even so, I have consistently tried to work one on one with teachers, trying to be supportive of their workloads and understanding of their constraints...I am somewhat weary of hearing how IDEA needs funding (while certainly true), Gifted and Talented needs funding, and yet, my child was the first student EVER to apply for extended time on the college tests such as ACT and SAT in a high school of 3400 students! To me, that is pure negligence. When they refused for over a year to even consider a 504 plan, I had to actually print the law off of the Internet, call the state dept. of Children and Families learning, and file suit with OCR. The school's response was to hire an attorney, say they would revisit their decision; and then after three years, implement a plan that no teacher "has to follow."

    So you tell me...how does one continue to support a school who basically has spent the last four years coming up with reasons why they WON'T be helpful to my child. I try to look at the glass as half full, and try to also point out the positives to our school system, especially now when to not pass an operating levy would put even more children in a class and provide even less attention for those students who just slowly and surely fall into the abysses of an underfunded school.

    ****

    I am very frustrated. Our school district has just implemented an accelerated math program in sixth grade.This will mean that all children will take the math regents in 8th grade. My fear is that children who cannot handle regular math will now feel like failures as they are forced to take a class that is beyond them.

    Our superintendent has told us that if we raise the bar the children will surprise us and reach higher. I feel it is very important to at least offer a class for those children who need to work at their grade level. Why must we push children so hard? Can anyone find me some information to help me argue a point without superintendent. I see no regulations that say a district cannot force children to study above grade level. There are many rules for schools when children fall behind expectations. Please give me your opinion about this matter. I want to fight for what is best for all children.

    Sincerely,

    Dawn4u85@aol.com

Questions or comments on parent involvement in schools? E-mail us.

You can find useful information and resources in our Parent Involvement in Education feature.

Book Donations for Kids?

    I was wondering if you knew of any publishing houses or any other group that would be interested in donating books/funds to our new book drive for make a difference day. I designed a statewide project to support our governor's early childhood literacy initiative; our goal is 100,000 (books) for children in grades k-3 in a multitude of languages and also for children who are physically challenged. We will be receiving national recognition for our win-win endeavor. If you think of anyone who may be interested please let me know. I can be reached at sarah.thoma@sos.state.nj.us or 609-341-2740.

 

Digital Mentoring
This reader responded to Mentoring by Modem, Julee Newberger's story about an eMentor program for kids in foster care.

    I read your recent article about the eMentoring program for foster children, and I wanted to introduce you to another innovative digital mentoring program called MindOH!, which is a Web-based series of interactive computer modules. MindOH! combines interactive flash elements with streaming videos of MindOH! mentors that teach students problem solving techniques and communication skills, reinforcing virtues such as respect and responsibility.

    Students access MindOH! during the discipline process after having committed an infraction such as bullying or skipping class, and the MindOH! mentors act as character tutors: older and wiser students that have "been there done that" and are going to help them tell their side of the story and earn back the respect of fellow students or school administrators. If students can have individual attention—tutoring or extra work—in a curriculum subject, why not do the same when they make bad choices? MindOH! provides a structured mentoring program that gives individualized attention when students need it most—when they are in emotional disarray and need guidance on how to react appropriately.

    Your Orphan Foundation article emphasized the research that has been done about traditional mentoring programs. Results from year one of a two-year Pilot study indicate that MindOH!'s high-tech, innovative approach to mentoring students is working. Please let me know if you would like a copy of our Pilot study Program Evaluation. In addition, the following ABC and CBS news clips will give you a quick overview of how the program works.

     

  • March 1, 2002, ABC affiliate KTRK: http://www.mindoh.com/morning_broadcast.wmv
  • May 15, 2002, CBS affiliate KHOU: http://www.mindoh.com/Ch11_evening_05150.wmv
  • Please don't hesitate to get in touch if I can answer any questions. I appreciate your time.

    Sincerely,

    Jennifer


Questions or comments on digital mentoring or foster youth? E-mail us.
You can find useful information and resources in our Foster Care.

 

Looking for Oregon Organizations

    I am a volunteer and community mentor (with) Oregon EAST/OUTER SE DHS Child Adolescent Unit under Devon Burris. I am looking to connect with an existing foster care organization to branch off or even start a nonprofit 501c3 for youth who need things that an SNB (Service Based Needs $)will not provide. This includes things such as clothing (a youth gets ONLY 1 $250.00 clothing voucher in their stay w DHS...its unbelievable the restrictions and exceptions SW have to invent to get help for some youth who don't qualify for special community services...and the $ pinching).

     

    Do you know of local groups who can help with my research ...my goal is to raising $ year around that will include youth activities and support minigrants to youth transitioning out ("ageing out")so they have pocket money .
    If you can help please e-mail Rachelle Hankins at meadowloon@hotmail.com


Kids Take the Back Seat

    In the past week I have tried to educate 3 parents of infants on not putting them in the front seat and been told to mind my own business. Do doctors and hospitals not educate parents before they send newborns home? What can a concerned citizen do to try and get these parents better informed on why to not put any child in the front seat of a vehicle?
    Also, do you know what states are working on legislation to make BOOSTER mandatory?

    Thank you for your time,

    Joan Thom


Any ideas or comments on this topic? ? E-mail us.
Find more information on children's safety in our Children's Health feature.

 

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