I Am Happy To Be In Private Practice

My new business seems to be growing.  As an advocate/tutor I get to see schools from a different perspective than when I was in the classroom.  I see pretty much the same things, like noisy libraries, administrators denying services*, teachers so overworked they can't possibly attend to the accommodations in an IEP without spending lots of time at home on the phone with parents, and limited parking for guys like me that show up in the middle of the day.  I also see hard working teachers, competent office staffs, clean bathrooms and overworked librarians.  I can't tell you how nice it feels to walk into a school as an independent contractor who works for the student and not the school--I am stress free.  Sorry current classroom teachers.  I feel ya.

One of the things that I have noticed is how homework seems to provide me with clients.  What I mean is that a few of my students' parents hired me because of the homework wars they were experiencing with their kids at home.  These parents, who clearly have enough money to hire a person like me, have chosen not to become the enemy to their child, and have hired me to help with homework.  I am fine with it, because it pays the bills.  Hiring me also reduces stress in the family's home, and that can only be a good thing, too.

Homework is mostly busy-work, often difficult to decipher due to the 30th generation copy being given to the student, and it's usually a complete waste of time because kids race through it so they can get to the Xbox.  I am becoming more and more anti-homework.  My stance could cost me, of course, but I am not thinking of me, I am thinking of students and their families.

* In an IEP meeting for a high school student last year the district administrator, parents, educational therapist, psychologist, mentor, some other lady, and I were crammed in a little office to discuss the IEP.  One of the things we were/are trying to help the student with is autonomy (he has executive function issues, among others--a very bright kid though) and following through with assignments--turning them in, mostly.  During the meeting the district administrator discussed the fact that the student has 2 tutors, an ed therapist, and others who are paid by the district (I am paid for by the district) and it is expensive.  She said this to the student.  Most of us shot looks at each other wondering who was going to punch this idiot in the face for saying such a thing to the student.  We refrained, but over coffee later, we all realized we should have punched her.  One of the student's moms (he has 2) is a 4th degree black belt--she is a Sai (see photo) expert.  She looks like your little Italian grandmother, but she can kill you in 2 seconds with just her thumb.  And her partner, who looks like your little Jewish grandmother, is a brown belt.  They showed such restraint!

This interaction with a district administrator is not typical, but the sentiment overrides everything.  School districts have NO money for kids who need/deserve services.  They are literally short-changed and short-changing kids as a result.  Parents have to hire a guy like me just to make sure the school takes their request for a meeting seriously, especially if the student has a diagnosis that falls under section 504.  School administrators must get trained in how to avoid classifying students as falling under section 504.

This is what needs to get reformed--how we deal with the neediest among us.  How we deal with our neediest brothers and sisters will determine or worth as human beings.

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