Section 2

Questions for Relection

First, read section one, chapters 4-7. Also, visit the FETA companion website at to review updates, checklists, sample letters, charts, and other information related to the text. Each chapter has additional resources to supplement what you are learning in the book.

Chapter 4: Learning the Rules of the Game

“Those who play the game do not see it as clearly as those who watch.” –Chinese Proverb

Your Assignment ~ Read chapter 4 (pp. 21-28)

Questions for Reflection

1.       To negotiate and advocate, you need to know the answers to these questions: 

a.      How well do you know your child’s school and the school district’s climate (learning environment)?

b.      Chain of command?

c.       Perception of parents of children with disabilities?

d.      These are not easy questions. What are some ways that you can learn the answers?

2.       Who are the “gatekeepers” for special education services in your world? Why are they considered gatekeepers?

3.       Do you know who the “invisible” members are on your child’s IEP team? These are administrators who make decisions about your child. They do not know your child. How will these people respond to your request?

4.       Have you encountered resistance to developing an individualized education program that is tailored to your child’s unique needs? Explain.

5.       On page 26, you see the ten reasons why schools say no to requests. If you have encountered any of these responses, looking back, is there anything that you would change about your approach?

6.       Make a checklist for yourself of the “Rules of the Game” (page 24). How do you embody these rules in your advocacy work?

7.       Was there a time when you were negotiating an important issue that you became frustrated or intimidated and gave up? If this issue is still important, how would you revisit the issue with the “Rules of the Game” in mind?

8.       What did you learn in this chapter that you will implement immediately?

Chapter 5: Obstacles to Success

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” –Martin Luther King, civil rights advocate

Your Assignment ~ Read chapter 5 (pp. 29-40)

This chapter is about gaining insight about myths, beliefs, and school culture and why obstacles exist. Understanding is the first step towards taking steps to overcome obstacles.

Questions for Reflection

1.       Think back to your childhood. Visualize the elementary school that you attended. School culture is the unspoken feeling that “this is how things are done around here.” You sensed it when you walked down the halls. What are your impressions of the culture in your child’s school?

2.       Should a parent question legal information or advice received from school personnel? Why?

3.       How do a parent’s and school’s expectations for children sometimes differ based on how children learn, what they are capable of learning, and standards for learning?

4.       Why do you think children have learning and behavior problems? Why do schools think children have learning and behavior problems (in your op/inion)?

5.       There are many types of obstacles within the school system and other barriers in advocating for children. Describe any that you may have encountered in your experiences. How did you overcome the obstacles and barriers? (Samples below)

a.      Lack of information

b.      Being isolated from other parents

c.       Anxiety about IEP meetings

d.      Overprotective of your child

e.       Emotional about your child

f.        Top down decision making /chain of command in the school

g.      A standardized educational system for all students

h.      School decision-making based on economics, traditions, and convenience

6.       What are some tactics that you learned in this chapter for dealing with difficult personalities: List a couple of tactics for each type003A

a.      Aggressive, forceful people (e.g., Pit Bulls and Bullies)

b.      People who give unsolicited advice (e.g., Know-it-Alls and Experts)

c.       Please who dislike and avoid difficult decisions  (e.g., Conflict Avoiders)

d.      Negative, bitter, hopeless people (e.g., Wet Blankets)

e.       Masters of the sneak attack, often delivered with a smile (e.g., Snipers)

f.        People who are irritating, exhausting, difficult to ignore (e.g., Complainers)

7.       What are dos and don’ts in developing a “business-like” relationship with your child’s school?

8.       What did you learn in this chapter that you will implement immediately?

Chapter 6: Resolving Parent-School Conflict

“If you only have a hammer, you see every problem as a nail.” – Abraham Maslow, psychologist

Your Assignment ~ Read chapter 6 (pp. 41-51)

This chapter is about understanding parent-school conflict as something that is normal and is bound to happen when people come together with different beliefs, perceptions, and interests. Strategies for resolving conflict are explained.

Questions for Reflection

1.       The law requires that schools prepare the child “for further education, employment and independent living.”  Which law is this referring to?

2.       Is your view of conflict good or bad? Why?

3.       What can happen when conflicts are not properly resolved with the school?

4.       Individualized education programs are costly and require a lot of time and personnel. How might this result in different objectives for parents and schools?

5.       Do you have any strategies for dealing with parent-school problems to share with the group? (ideas below)

a.      The school views your child differently than you do

b.      Imbalance of knowledge and information (school won’t answer questions)

c.       School is not providing right options

d.      IEP team evades your request for an expensive service

e.       Feeling like the school/IEP team doesn’t value your child

f.        Poor communication and intimidation

g.      Loss of trust

6.       How are special education disputes usually resolved?

7.       On page 50, read the five “golden rules” for negotiators. On page 51, read the four “deadly sins” for negotiators. Role play with a partner using examples in an IEP meeting. Take turns using good negotiation skills.

8.       Is it more important to get the school to admit fault or reach a solution?

9.       What did you learn in this chapter that you will implement immediately?

Chapter 7: Emergency, Crisis, Help!

“In Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”  - John F. Kennedy, President

Your Assignment ~ Read chapter 7 (pp. 53-57)

Questions for Reflection

In development