In this article it speaks about how teachers within the Atlanta Public School System have become the greatest advocates for their students. The author says that one of the greatest blessings of his professional life is the opportunity that he has to speak with hundreds and hundreds of his Special Education colleagues. Before and after his seminars, Lavoie has had conversations and discussions with countless teachers from coast to coast and everywhere in between. These conversations have truly been a joy, and these on-the-fly exchanges has given him an updated perspective on the changes and challenges in America’s classrooms. These conversations are an ongoing source of information and inspiration for Lavoie. They have confirmed his long-held belief that some of the finest people on the planet are toiling daily in America’s classroom and particularly within Special Education programs. Most of the conversations amongst the teachers are reassuring and reinforcing, but occasionally there are conversations that are troubling and disheartening. The disturbing conversations remind Lavoie that the inclusion battles of the 1970s continue in many American school districts and that the rights of struggling kids continue to be violated and ignored. Lavoie worked as a school administrator for thirty years and has always felt that teachers’ willingness to defend and advocate for students should be encouraged and reinforced not discouraged and criticized.
One of the most sacred responsibilities of a Special Education teacher is to advocate for his/ her students and their needs. We need to be voices for the voiceless. Regardless of grade level. For the past several years, Lavoie have delivered a seminar entitled “Other People’s Kids: The Ethics of Special Education.” In this workshop, he outlines a dozen basic ethical tenets that must be understood and followed by those of us who toil in the vineyards of Special Education. These tenets involve confidentiality, collaboration and parental interactions. But the main emphasis of the workshop is the premise that “The professional’s PRIMARY loyalty and commitment is to the CHILD.” Be an advocate for your students. If you don’t who will. In a perfect world, no teacher should be criticized for defending, protecting, or advocating for a child. But, the world is imperfect and teachers often find that they are asked to compromise students’ services in order to maintain budgets and other real-world constraints. Teachers face this conundrum daily. But as we all know some things that are simple are not always easy. Teachers are encouraged to please be the number one advocate for your students.
Lavoie, R. (2014). Fighting The Good Fight. How to Advocate for Your Students without losing your job.