Sunday, May 10, 2009
Student Centered Advocacy
The notion of student centered advocacy, as with student centered anything probably, is as natural as any organic, holistic, developmental, constructivist would seem to someone who has lived most of his professional life serving individuals whose needs demanded a person centered facilitation toward resolution. The university program I have just completed is looking to train individuals to be special education advocates. I became baffled as the course instructors each informed the class that advocates represented the desires of the parent, or parent surrogate, and not what the special education advocate saw as representing the best interests of the student toward successful in the formal education environment. Antiintellectual is a term that comes to mind when the argument is made that the parent best knows the needs of the child and therefore by representing the desires of the parent, the advocate is representing the educational "needs" of the student. Listening to the parents of students with disabilities tell the class about all the problems they encounter, and we listened to these stories ad nauseum, trying to get the services they say the child needs, without providing the same quality of peer reviewed evidence indicative of the efficacy of such services that these parents claim is automatically missing in solutions offered by school district professionals, makes the argument for not allowing parents to be the motivators for an advocates actions. When I accepted teaching credentials in the state of California, I swore to an ethical standard that puts student needs first.