As this first day of a New Year begins, I would like to focus on what happens when someone finally develops the eye of an advocate. What does that really mean and does that process of developing the Eye of an advocate have any impact on your life and if it does what does it look like?
We can compare the process of developing an advocate’s eye to developing an understanding and appreciation of music. Many of us tend to prefer one genre of music over others and our preference is usually associated with how the music makes us feel as we listen. If, however one studies music by playing an instrument as well as studying form, composition, rhythm, etc., over time there is much deeper understanding of that structure across genres. There may still be preferences for one genre over another but there is appreciation for the many layers of effort that go into creating any presentation of music regardless of the format.
When someone steps into the advocacy arena it is usually because their heart has been opened to the abuse that they see. It is their heart that cannot tolerate the denial of respect, denial of humanity, denial of rights, denial of enough. It is their heart that cannot tolerate the idea that this pittance, this token, this minimal effort will do. After all those who are otherized and the focus of this neglect won’t know . They won’t care, almost anything is good enough for them. It would not do for me of course. I mean, I’m paying for what I am getting.
We have a culture that tolerates bullying, ostracizing and other forms of separating some people out for abuse and ridicule. In some circles it is raised to a fine art and seen as a right of passage. I take this behavior as a sign of spiritual brokenness.
Only someone with issues of self-hate, lack of confidence and lack of self esteem needs to boast about how great they are.
Only someone with issues of self-hate, lack of confidence and lack of self esteem uses vindictive retaliation to bully and subjugate.
Only someone with issues of self-hate, lack of confidence and lack of self esteem needs to make others small so they can feel superior. Equality is never good enough- it must always be better than.
So to all of the advocates out there who are willing to give voice to the voiceless by constantly reminding the system that your demands are the minimum requirements of the system, thank you. Thank you for your passion, enthusiasm, and perseverance. It is your constant reminders that education is for all that will eventually impact the system. For now, we can appreciate each individual that now has a chance at a more independent satisfying life.
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Marie Lewis is an author, consultant, and national speaker on best practices in education advocacy. She is a parent of 3 children and a Disability Case Manager, Board Certified Education Advocate, and Behavior Specialist Consultant. She has assisted in the development of thousands of IEPs nationally and consults on developing appropriately individualized IEPs that are outcome-based vs legally sufficient. She brings a great depth of expertise, practical experience, and compassion to her work as well as expert insight, vision, and systemic thinking. She is passionate and funny and she always inspires and informs.
MJ Gore has an MEd in counseling and a degree in elementary education and natural sciences. She worked as a life-skills and learning support teacher She has been honored with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. She is the Director and on the faculty at the National Special Education Advocacy Institute. Her passion is social justice, especially in the area of education. She is a Board Certified Education Advocate who teaches professional advocates, educators, and clinicians the best practices in education advocacy.
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