Ask an experienced educator how to create change in education and you will be told to get a needs assessment, write a report, set up an evaluation system, develop a pilot project, and maybe in fifty years you will see change. If you ask an experienced parent advocate how to create change you will be told that changes in the system can sometimes be effected in fifty days, so say authors of the book Between Parent and School.
- Believe in yourself. One person can do a lot, either alone or by mobilising others to the cause.
- Don't be discouraged or side-tracked. The job may seem monumental or hopeless or officials may give you the run-around, or down-play the problem, or say that their hands are tied. Or you might be labelled a troublemaker or even coerced into some busy-work committee. Maintain in perspective and keep your focus clear.
- Be systematic. You are the detective in the case of your child or a group of children. Build your case irrefutably:
Present your case assertively. Know who is who. While it's the best in the name of co-operation, to start with the lowest in the chain of command, there will be instance where you may need to go to the top first. Judge your strategy well. Keep others informed. Send copies of your submissions to those interested and those who should be kept informed.
Keep a log. Stalls, points of dispute, passing-the-buck may occur. You may forget why you started in the first place. Your log and your file may help you to keep on track and act as a mobilising tool to bring others along to your case or to inform the media.
Follow through. You may need to monitor any change, or build on it. You may wish to write it up to give courage and hope to others.
Be reasonable. Come judgement day, will you be able to show to others, including your children, that what you did was sensible and right for the circumstances? The ethic of advocacy prescribes that you don't gain at the expense of others. Make sure your gain does not cause grief to other children.
- narrow down the problem – be specific
- do your homework – compare/contrast how your situation is similar/different from others
- get facts, figures, compelling statements
- organise your approach – prepare a brief strategy
- specify the desired – some options can be described
- indicate some time frame for results before taking your case further
From LDA, 97-03-01
Please go to our “Steps to Take” page for “Making the Most of School – Sources of Help for You and Your Child”
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