I came to Speak UP a year and a half ago as a volunteer bent on effecting real and urgent change in this gigantic district we call LAUSD. In the 2017 LAUSD Board District 4 election campaign, I witnessed first-hand the power of parents coming together to upend the electoral status quo. Parents from across the district came together, from all school models, to fight for a board member who would listen to the voices of parents and put kids first.
Inspired by the parent power momentum of the campaign, I decided I wanted to focus on an area that was close to my heart and that had been plaguing the district for years. As a mother of two special needs children, who landed here from New York City several years ago, I was aghast at the dearth of resources, the culture of low expectations and general lack of supports I saw for any kid who didn’t fit the “regular” learning profile. This includes kids who have or need IEPs, speak English as a second language, have brown or black skin, or who live in underserved neighborhoods.
As time went by, I started working more closely with Speak UP to support parents of kids with special needs by providing them with the tools and knowledge to raise their voices on behalf of their children.
In this role, over the past year, I’ve met with over 100 families, from all walks of life, who send their special needs kids to all kinds of schools.Sadly, too many of those kids have been failed by the system. With each family I met, story after story would emerge, most of them sad, some of them horrible, and all of them with life changing ramifications. My job has been to educate them on their basic rights in public education, and empower them to advocate for important changes to the system. I find this work deeply satisfying, but I am amazed that the school system doesn’t support these parents more. Parents are on the front lines with these kids, picking up the pieces when the school system fails them, and left to figure out on their own how to get their kids back up and lead their best lives. So when, they wonder, will their voices finally be heard?Read More