Monday, March 24, 2014

A Parent's Letter To Angela Duckworth and the MacArthur Foundation

I realize it would be a cheap shot to ask what genius at the MacArthur Foundation decided to give Angela Duckworth a genius grant, but I'm going to ask it, anyway.

Now, granted, Dr. Duckworth, I don't have a PhD.  I have a Master's degree in English that is from 1982 and gathering dust from lack of use.  These days I am just a mom of two Special Ed kids.  Although I did teach Freshman Comp once upon a time, my understanding of education is as a layperson. All I know about education is largely based upon what I learn on Twitter.

I am going to be blunt and say, you, Dr. Duckworth, are what's wrong with higher education.  During my two years studying for my MA, I learned that there are theories du jour. Academic flavors of the day. Most of it is hogwash.    Much of it is harmless in fields like English.  Queequeg and Ishmael don't just share a bed because the inn is all filled up, but they also share a pipe.  Jim says to Huck, "Come back to the raft, Huck, honey."  And with those examples, Leslie Fiedler makes the case for rampant homosexuality in American literature.  Our professor mentioned Fiedler, and we all rolled our eyes.  I am surprised to see that Fiedler has a Wikipedia article about him, no doubt extolling his, ahem,  great scholarly work.  

Dr. Duckworth, you are receiving national and possibly international attention. Ted talks, newspaper articles, and even sites like Brain Pickings are  proclaiming you to be, well, a genius in educational theory. You and your research have been discussed on Twitter for weeks now.  You and your research have become the subject of blog post upon blog post. There is no avoiding you  Unlike the aforementioned Fiedler, your research has gained traction.  People who are unfamiliar with history or those who don't have the sophistication to interpret dog whistles undoubtedly think the world of you.   

There are teachers who justify to themselves their unwillingness or inability to teach certain parts of the population be they children of  color and/or in poverty or disabled.  These teachers, Dr. Duckworth, do not need your help in coming up with excuses for not stepping up to their professional responsibilities.  The fault lies not with the child, but with the professional who has been chosen these challenges. 

It is difficult for me to get teachers to take my children seriously as it is, without your arguments about grit to bolster their assumptions.  Our younger daughter is routinely considered lazy, because they overlook why she is in Special Ed to begin with.  They consider her high functioning, which is good, I guess, but she gets penalized for not doing her work correctly.  For some reason she thinks she can't do the same work at her computer at home that she can do at school.  I finally came to school, sat down at their computer, and wrote down the instructions step by step.  Now that we have these instructions at home, she can do what is required of her.  This has been viewed as a character flaw instead of as a mild learning disability.  Instead of helping her learn and feel good about herself, they have been putting her down.  Now that may not be their intention, but that is the message nonetheless.  And this is why I find your work so objectionable. Teachers like these can justify their own shortsightedness and, frankly, bad behavior, because they must have already concluded that Special Ed is for the lazy, or, in your words, lacking in grit.  If teachers like this get a hold of your work and your ideas, it could set a much more dangerous precedent than what already exists.  

When our older daughter, who is severely disabled and cannot speak, was still in grammar school, they did nothing to help her learn.  When I pressed the principal on why they didn't have a reading program for the disabled kids, she told me that she was going around the state speaking to people about their program. I am still wondering what she had to be so proud about.  The meta message to me was, "we don't have a reading program, and I am encouraging people at other schools to follow suit."  In other words, disabled kids don't matter.  They are not teachable, so don't even try.  Just have these children in glorified preschool, and let's just all call it an education.  

I've got news for you, Dr. Duckworth.  It is worth trying because you never know what any child, will finally demonstrate.  Why bother teaching a severely brain damaged boy his mom explains   Now, granted, this child, like my older daughter, has cerebral palsy, which  does not have any genetic marker, but that doesn't make this example any less valid.  

The harsh reality is that the Nazis took a page from Galton's  Francis Galton's "science" of eugenics  and would have undoubtedly have thrown children like that little boy and my daughter off the train. Figuratively speaking, we throw children off the train every day, be they disabled, economically disadvantaged or non-white.  

If my daughter were to take your test she would fail it. As would I have.  Yes, Dr. Duckworth, we would both be written off as people lacking in grit.

Let me tell you a bit about grit, a term you have cheapened.  I doubt you would survive a day in my world where I face not only constant disappointment but constant scrutiny  This is not genetics, Dr. Duckworth.  This is happenstance. 

People of privilege have said to me, "God helps those..."  I believe you know the rest of that pithy  saying. From my perspective these folks suffer from PPS, Protestant Predestination Syndrome, which is closely related another treatable malady, MDS, Manifest Destiny Syndrome.  These folks mistakenly believe they have grit, when, frankly, all they have is the ability to conform.  Succeeding through conformity does not take grit or courage.  It may give a person money or social standing, but it certainly doesn't mean they have character.  

And, that, Dr. Duckworth is where you show you lack of understanding of what grit truly means.  Grit means succeeding against the odds  Grit means going against the grain.  Grit means prevailing even when people in positions of authority do not believe in you.  

If you had any grit, Dr. Duckworth, you'd return the money given to you by the MacArthur Foundation, resign from University of Pennsylvania, and wander out into the real world where people with  precarious circumstances manage to keep going without much in the way of safety nets.  We have a lot of grit, even if the results of our efforts do not measure up to your scrutiny.  Perhaps there are times when we muddle through our days, but we are survivors all the same. 

This is what you and your colleagues need to exam, Dr. Duckworth.  It's a little something called real life.  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Once Upon A Library

Once upon a time, a little girl went to the library.  The furnishings didn't enthrall her, but the books did, particularly one book that was orange and green and had a picture of a dog driving a car.  She gave it to her mother to check out for her.  Over and over and over again.  The girl read that book almost exclusively.  Silently she would turn the pages, each illustration delighting her.   She loved the drawings of dogs of all sizes.  She delighted in dogs driving cars.  She loved the whimsical drawing of all the dogs spread out on a bed.  She wondered when he was going to love her hat.  She loved the dogs who were playing tennis on top of a blimp. Most of all she loved the dog party.  Seemed to her that every time she looked at the dogs on top of the tree, she noticed more dogs doing more things.

A few years later, the girl's mother took her to the main branch of the Chicago Public Library, and she was in awe of the ornate ceilings and stacks and stacks of books as far as her eye could see.  Prior to a car trip, she took out a book about the Incas, a book by Beverly Cleary,  a vocabulary book and a book titled Ginger Pye about a family dog that had been stolen.  When she discovered that they were closing the main branch down, she got very mad.  She couldn't understand why they had to take away that beautiful building that she loved so much.

The girl grew into a lonely teen, who was perplexed by by so called friends.  She wandered into her high school library to stop feeling so alone. She was surprised to discover some really great books.  One was a biography about Rabbi Elijah Levinson, who was supposedly one of the girl's ancestors.  The other book was Fred Allen's autobiography, Much Ado About Me.  They kept her company the entire summer.

A friend's repayment of a very small loan gave the unemployed young woman just the amount of money she needed to join the Library Guild at Spertus where she could complete some research on the Jews of Fustat (Old Cairo) at the time of the First Crusade.  Perhaps she will never complete the historical novel she began, but having that knowledge still fills her with a sense of accomplishment.

Many years later, as a matronly middle aged woman and mother, she read something about libraries from one of the famous writers of the day, Ray Bradbury that set her back on her heels:

When i left high school, I had all my plans to go to college, but I had no money.  And I decided then, the best thing for me to do is not worry about getting money to go to college--I will educate myself.  It's all FREE, that's the great thing about libraries!  Most of you can afford to go to college, but if you wanna educate yourself completely, go to the library and educate yourself.  When I was 28 years old, I graduated from Library!
Wouldn't it be great, she thought to herself, if everyone had access to a library, at any time of day or night, so they could study whatever they wanted to study or just have a place of  quiet sanctuary like she once had? Her face fell because she reminded herself that municipalities were closing libraries as Neil Gaiman so eloquently stated:

Libraries really are the gates to the future. So it is unfortunate that, round the world, we observe local authorities seizing the opportunity to close libraries as an easy way to save money, without realising that they are stealing from the future to pay for today. They are closing the gates that should be open.

The woman thought back to the times when she visited The Huntington Library  and the Newberry Library
and how she felt connected to generations past.  How her hands hungered to touch the manuscripts. She felt sacred moments of connection as she gazed upon the parchment touched by those who had penned their great classics. She contemplated how, with books as her companions, she had traversed many literary landscapes.To her libraries were hallowed ground.  Her feelings echoed those of Gaiman:

Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.
The woman thought about how many tales would be lost if they were not somehow preserved.  She thought about how so many stories were neglected and forgotten.  Perhaps some day she would reconstruct her family's history, and, even if it were not exact, it would be recorded, nonetheless.  At least she could take solace in what stories had been preserved in books resting along the stacks of
many of the world's libraries.

All of a sudden the woman felt a soft, warm glow of hope. She realized that many others would come to libraries to daydream and be inspired to create whatever came to mind. She knew right that libraries would live happily ever after.  The End.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Day Homer Simpson Ran An IEP Meeting

Note:  Below is a very fictionalized recounting of a true event.  Names and genders have been changed to protect the incompetent.

Homer Simpson scratched his ass, belched and looked in the mirror to shave. The face looking back at him was not his but that of a mixed race middle aged woman.  He shrieked.

Marge...," he called.

"What is it, Homer," Marge called from the kitchen.

"Can you come up to the bathroom?"

"In a minute," she replied.

Homer stared at the face in the mirror.  Then he looked down.  "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god," he exclaimed.  "This can't be happening!"

Marge came upstairs and stood in the bathroom doorway.  "Homer?"

Homer looked at her.  "Marge, I can explain everything.  Well, actually I can't.  Can you?"

"Can I explain why you seem to have metamorphosed into a thin, mixed race middle aged woman?  No, I cannot." Homer shrieked again.  "But I'll be alright, right?"

Marge shrugged.  "And if you're not, you're a nice looking woman.  Nothing to worry about."

Homer found himself transported to a high school.  People addressed him with the honorific of Dr. and an unfamiliar  surname.  "I must not be a medical doctor or I'd be wearing a white lab coat.  I must be one of those other kinds of doctors, a PhD."  He decided he liked being a doctor regardless of what kind of doctor he was.  He had an office and a secretary.  He spun around in the desk chair several times.  "Whee!  whee!  whee!"

Homer walked up to the secretary and squinted at her name badge.  "Good morning. What appointments do I have scheduled for today?"

The secretary answered without looking up from her computer.  "Should be on your laptop."

Homer looked intently at the laptop.  What he saw made no sense to him. IEPS?  OTs?  PTs?  AT?   He felt flop sweat starting to form on his brow.  "OK, Homer.  Don't panic.  Ask the secretary what an IEP  is."  He started to get up from his chair.  "But, wait.  You don't want your secretary to know you are incompetent."  Followed by a thought from his usually dormant brain, "She probably already knows."  He gave himself a stern look.  "Shut up brain," he said. "You only speak when spoken to.  Got it?"

After a while women and one man filed around this long table.  Then a middle aged woman with no name badge entered the room. "That must be the mom person," he thought.   She sat down next to the teacher.  There was a look of expectation on her face.

"Everyone is here," he thought to himself.  "I can leave now."   He stood just outside the room and listened in.

The teacher passed copies of the report done by the private physical therapist the woman's daughter saw once a week.  The occupational therapist explained that the school's  physical therapist couldn't make it,  but they could do a conference call when it was her turn. The mom consented to that.

"Whew, that's a relief," Homer thought to himself.  He figured the mom person could not get mad if she could at least talk to the PT by phone.

"Can we also call up our physical therapist at the same time," the mom asked.

"No," the occupational therapist explained.

 Homer started to feel building resentment.  "No?"  Did the occupational therapist just say no?  "Why that little..."   Homer didn't know much, but he knew it was never a good idea to deny a mom person's request.  Looked very bad.

"But I can give the PT your PT's number," the OT continued.

The mom considered this for a moment.  Not what she had hoped for, but a private conversation between the two PTs may not be so bad.  She decided to not object to it.

"That was close," Homer thought to himself.

Then another woman spoke up.  "The speech therapist cannot be here.  She's at a meeting at another school, and we cannot reach her by phone."

Homer groaned. D'oh! Why did this woman have to point that out?  Maybe the mom person would not have noticed.  Please, he was praying silently, don't say the "R" word.

"Given that she is the main reason to have this meeting," the woman continued, "maybe you'd like to reschedule?"

Homer groaned again.  "Oh why'd she have to say it," he thought to himself.  "That only makes more work for me.  Please don't want to reschedule.  Please, please, please, please, please."  Then Homer brightened up.  Maybe he could get someone else to do the work.  They've always done his work for him before.  Lenny and Carl covered for him all the time. Then he remembered. He wasn't at the nuclear power plant.  He was at... what was the name of this school again?

The mom thought for a moment.  She hated to reschedule, but she knew the woman was right.  No point in having a meeting for a  a girl who needed assistive technology without the one person there who was most qualified to talk about it  She sighed.  "OK.  Let's reschedule."

Another case manager who was there looked at the calendar.  "What about next Tuesday," she asked.

"That's my yoga day," the mom complained.

Then she reminded them that Tuesdays were early dismissal.  "How would I be home in time," she asked.

"Maybe you could walk to school and ride the school bus home with your daughter," the social worker suggested.

The mom brightened up.  "That would be a good substitute for yoga."  She paused.  "But you'll have to get permission from the bus company."

Homer felt his panic return.  "Oh, no.  I may have to do something."

"I'll handle it," the teacher volunteered.

Homer smiled.  "Good old whatshername," he thought.  He had a feeling that this was not the first time this woman had bailed  him out.

"Do something gracious," Homer's brain said to him.  "Offer her a ride home if that doesn't work out."

Homer scowled.  He didn't want to give a ride to a fat middle aged woman.  "No way, man," he said to his brain, "I only want to give rides to hot young women."

"If you offer her a ride," his brain countered, "the mom person will like you and maybe she will not call up the principal to complain about how inept you are."

"Good thinking," Homer said to his brain. "Also if I am giving a ride to a fat, middle aged woman," he reasoned, "Marge would have no reason to feel jealous."

"I can give you a ride home if the bus permission thingy doesn't work," he said to the mom person.

Homer frowned.  He couldn't decipher the look the mom was giving him.  Could she be giving him a look of revulsion?  "No way," he thought to himself.  "No one could be disgusted by me," he decided.  "Even though I don't have a lab coat, I am still a doctor. That makes me cool, right?  Right?"

Homer's brain shook its head and sighed. Perhaps it was time to give up while it was still a head.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This Special Ed Elephant Is Staring Straight At You

Note:  This was originally posted mid-April on Stephen Hurley's blog.  I've been meaning to repost it here for several months.  Today's conversation with Brendan Murphy prompted me to do this now.

Stephen Hurley was kind enough to invite us all to go on a safari with him.  He asked us to examine  the
educational elephants in the room.

 I love elephants.  I collect elephants of all sizes and materials.  I love reading about elephants.  These elephants are different.  There are many elephants in the room.  Poverty. Hunger. Class warfare. Racism. And an odd bit of segregation we still practice in the United States, at least  It's called Special Education.

I was curious about how Special Ed came to be, and, as always, I asked Ira Socol, who I ask about anything related to the history of education and Special Ed in particular.  As I suspected, Special Ed
began in earnest in the 60s.  Ira explained to me that as we were working on racial desegregation that also included removing segregated populations of mentally and physically disabled from institutions and moving them to schools. Along with that we closed down many schools for the deaf and blind, although some
still exist and are quite good.

Essentially, then, Special Ed was started with the best of intentions. However, like many  benevolent actions it was not thought out all the way through. Once mentally and physically disabled students were moved to schools, it stopped there. People didn't consider integrating the classrooms. Disabled children were still primarily kept segregated from the rest of the school population.  In Chicago in the 1970s schools were built solely for physically disabled students.Ironically, the local communities complained that their ablebodied
kids were being kept out of these special schools.  CPS caved in to this pressure, and local residents were given access to these schools. These ablebodied kids were never placed in classrooms with their
physically disabled peers.  Thus, even in schools built with the intention of educating the physically disabled, separate and unequal continues.  Conventional wisdom is that if a kid is in a  wheelchair or even just using a walker or orthopedic devices they are somehow not smart enough to be in gifted programs with ablebodied peers.Physically disabled does not equal mentally disabled, yet it seems that is how bureaucrats think.

People who think that Corey H was a boon to Special Ed are sorely mistaken.  Laws calling for  
Restrictive Environment
are open to subjective interpretation.   Doing what is appropriate is also open to interpretation.   These laws protect the school districts much more so than help any children, as I mentioned in my post, Kid O Talks Back. Eventually. :

I decided to try to make them do the right thing through due process. The law says that the schools must do what is appropriate. However, that is very loosely defined, giving schools a lot of wiggle room. The least appropriate is still appropriate. I had heard of the Corey H case and thought, aha, I have something to grab onto. I had even located the psychologist who had evaluated him. She wanted nothing to do with me. "I've retired," she explained. I asked her if she had a student who'd be interested. She made a less than half-hearted promise to find someone for me. Then I discovered who the attorney was. She headed up the advocacy organization I had been in contact with. "She won't talk to you," the advocacy person said to me.
This was devastating for me.  I quickly stopped pursuing due process because I had no money for an attorney, and I realized that the attorney for CPS was going to make several meals out of me. June 2010,
my husband and I spent several hundred dollars on an initial consultation with one of the top Special Ed attorneys in Chicago.  As we were leaving he lamented that not enough people in our position could afford attorneys to help their kids.  We barely could afford the consultation ourselves.  These school districts count on this to keep from providing services and/or placement that a special needs child deserves.  I've had two people now tell me that they hear similar stories too often.  School districts like CPS probably rarely have to pay up or otherwise do the right thing.

Mentally and physically disabled children are warehoused every day. They are kept secluded for the most part.  One woman on Twitter told me she has a gifted child and a special needs child.  Naturally she wants the best for both kids.  However, if it were a choice for resources for her gifted child or for her special needs child, she would prefer that the resources would go to the special needs child.  While it would be a shame for programs to be cut for her gifted child, that child would have an easier time doing without.Budgets slashed for special needs children, however, is much more devastating.  For these children to succeed they need more not less.Most people do not see it this way.  This woman told me that fellow parents of gifted children have told her that helping special needs children is a waste of resources.

The meta message is that special needs children are somehow lesser beings.  They deserve less because they are less.  Who is to say who will give more to society if given a chance?  AG Baggs, an autistic woman,
asserts in her video, In My Language   "Only when the many shapes of personhood are recognized will justice and human rights be possible."

Recognizing the "many shapes of personhood" begins at home, begins at school, and begins in our community.  The best way to restore dignity to special needs children is to  desegregate schools.  Abolish Special  Education.  Make all classrooms multi-age.  Let the children who are inclined to mentor do just that.  Let the kids who are inclined to care for younger kids or special needs kids do just that.  I am not talking about things that adults are needed for.  I am talking about modeling care, love and mutual respect, and most importantly, treating both special needs children and adults with dignity.

Special needs kids grow up to be special needs adults.  We need to find a way to allow them to be part of the community.  As I wrote in my blog post, Landscaper! There's a Weed in My Sod: Why We Need Inclusion in Classrooms and Community :

None of us are weeds to be disposed of. We all form an intricate part of the educational ecosystem. We all have our loud humanity that demands attention. And care. And understanding.

We need to stop averting our gaze from the Special Ed elephant in the room. We need to squarely face our fears and judgments of people, who, on the surface, seem different from us.   If we do not do this then we
will continue to harm portions of the population who deserve to have their humanity honored.   We need to embrace the Special Ed elephant. We need to help the Special Ed elephant dissolve peacefully away.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Differently Deranged God of Special Ed Gathers Her Children About Her

The differently deranged god of Special Ed
gathers her children about her.
She laughs heartily.
She teaches them steadfastness.
She teaches them the art of surprise.
She teaches them that others will blink
and miss
their brilliance.
She councils them
Only reveal through fanned out feathers  .
Glimpses of your incandescent selves.

She tells them,
Others  will call you imbecile.
Others will call you idiot.
Still others will call you mental.
They will even call you retard.

She whispers consolingly
You transcend labels
they need
to compensate for their
vastly underdeveloped sense making skills.

Give no heed to those puny hearted souls,
who will never grasp that
you are more fully human than they will ever be.
While they puzzle out the mundane,
You shine. Divinely.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Special Ed Is A Fresh, Dysfunctional Hell

Special Ed is a fresh, dysfunctional hell.
The short bus putters and  sputters along its
intentionally convoluted route.
Parents in dogged pursuit are kept off kilter
by prevaricating bureaucrats who
cherry pick particular secrets
to whisper from sepia toned street corners
conflatable, untranslatable, untraceable
The answers are no, no, no, no, no.
Denials are signed in triplicate.

She is an educational anomaly.
A  round peg pounded mercilessly
into a square hole.
Wedged into a program that suits her better than most.
Programs and people do not coincide.

She giggles, grins and bears the unbearable.
I  yearn  to make sense of  the insensible.
Figure out the rhyme and reason.
Hoping for compassionate, 
conscientious and competent teachers.
Settling uneasily for someone
marking time, holding places.
Education through the looking glass reflects badly.
She is proved unteachable until proven other wise.  

Forget it, Jake, you are mistaken
if you think you can traverse
this craven, cratering landscape.
No one can cross the Special Ed steppes.

Hear the podcast of my poem. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

I'm Not One of Those Parents. I'm You

Of all the educators I've run across, Ira Socol is the most supportive of parents, especially us Special Ed folks. And yet, in his 16 October 2011 blog post, Ordinary People He mentions all the heroes of education, "teachers, principals, librarians, aides, et al who do the work", but unless et al is code for "parents" we are once again left off yet another list of people who make a difference in our kids' lives. And if I have misinterpreted this then I do apologize. It may be that my experiences have colored how I perceive this part of his post.

Ira and others explain to me or defend the omission, if you will, by once again bringing up "those parents." You know the kind. They have a sense of entitlement. They have money. They throw their considerable weight around. They make impossible demands often and quite loudly. They give those of us who genuinely care about our children a black eye.

When an educator earnestly asks me how educators can invite parents because they really want our input, I am left at a loss. I've been invited before, and it's left a bad taste in my mouth.

My initial thought is that, if they are wary like me, educators will have to invite parents repeatedly before they believe that they are really wanted and that their input is really valued.

What teachers and administrators refuse to get is that school is their turf. Even more so when we're the parents of Special Ed kids. We parents who are genuinely advocating for our kids are education's ugly step sister. Whether it's intentional or not, parents are often told go play on the freeway.

Teachers assert themselves as the experts and sometimes to a child's detriment, and we pesky parents, instead of being allowed in as full partners in our children's education, are told, implicitly, that there is no room in school for us. We ought to be exalted as the protectors of teachers and public education, be we are not. All too often we are invited for some purpose or other and then discarded.

There is an institutionalized sexism still practiced by male and female teachers alike. Most of the parents who come to school are more likely than not to be the female parent -- the mom. I have been personally bullied by women professionals,be they physical therapists working with Kid O, teachers who assert their educational authority, or principals or case managers.

We get a lot of lip service to "you know your child best," but then we are pretty aggressively shoved away. I've read tweets by both men and women educators on Twitter asserting themselves as the experts an parents, really meaning mainly moms, should keep their hands off the students This is antithetical to partnership. This is bullying of the tallest order. The message, meta and otherwise, is you're just a woman and you do not have an education degree, so back off.

Teachers and administrators need to examine how they treat parents, predominantly women, and ask yourselves the hard questions. Do you speak to women the way you to speak to men? Chances are good that educators speak to dads much more deferentially than they speak to moms, but, as my husband points out, while the communication is different, the message is still really the same. He also reminds me of a consultant who has this definition of expert: one who is a drip under pressure. (An ex spurt.)

And who sets up that pressure? It doesn't come from the middle class, working class or the poor. That pressure comes from the government and those who can buy and sell the government. It's understandable, especially in light of the current class struggle, who pushes back and why. Teachers are scrambling to hold onto whatever power and authority they've still got. Based on my experience they try to intimidate those of us who want a better education for our kids.

Before you invite parents into your classroom or some schoolwide event, do you respect them? When we were kids, we were told mind our teachers. That is not the same thing as either respecting them or agreeing with them. What we need to strive for is mutual respect and mutual support. In that regard, I am heartened by these two posts written by Josh Stumpenhorst aka stumpteacher on Twitter. He invited parents to his classroom, and, by his own admission, before he became a parent, "... I honestly viewed them simply as people I had to talk to 2-3 times a year at parent night and our two conference nights."

There are a lot of reasons why parents might not want to come to a classroom or otherwise participate in a discussion about school. First you need to make parents feel welcome. You have to show them you respect them. You have to mean it. We parents have our own crap detectors. We know whether someone is being sincere.

The sad irony is that if teachers were to give up some control, they'd find allies in people like me. When I see teachers who step up and who stick to their principles, I am the first one to support them. I am asking teachers, I've got your back, do you have mine? I'm not one of "those parents." I'm you.

Only thing I'm asking educators to do right now is Think