Rose says: Our Worcester Public School students return to classrooms on MONDAY, AUGUST 26! To ALL EDUCATORS: DURING THESE FIRST FEW WEEKS – HAVE FUN! AND TEACH KIDS TO HAVE COMPASSION! TOWARDS KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS!
TOWARDS ALL ANIMALS, TOO!
Parents do your part!
Tips for Parents of Children with Disabilities – Help your Kids Succeed in School!
By Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
As someone with a disability myself, and who also knows what it means to parent a child with multiple disabilities, I’ve become an advocate for my children on so many fronts, including their education. After all, when it comes to disability and inclusion, despite good intentions, many schools don’t even know what they don’t know. Also, only 61% of students with disabilities get a high school degree — so it is up to people with disabilities, and their loved ones, to educate and advocate for disability inclusion and success. This is especially true when enabling children with disabilities to have full access to education. While today on average only 1-in-3 working age adults with a disability have a job, studies show that 70% of young people with disabilities can get jobs and careers. But we have to do our part. Here are some tips I’ve used in the past that may be helpful to you:
🍎1. Know you are not alone.
Fully 1 in 5 Americans has a disability. While parenting a child with differences feels lonely at times, seek out other families with similar experiences. Peers can offer good advice, and may become your new best friends. They reside in your local community and online.
🍎2. Research which schools in your area have real experience and success working with children with disabilities.
While all public schools are required to accommodate students with disabilities, some schools may have magnet programs specifically for your child’s educational needs. In other cases, you may want to resist when your school district wants to bus your child across town to a school for other kids with disabilities, when accommodations can be easily made at his or her neighborhood school.
Call your local disability groups to see what resources and leads they can offer. Ask other parents of children with disabilities about their experiences with different schools.
Go online to look at the school’s website. Does it say they welcome and serve people with disabilities?
🍎3. Write an “all about how to succeed with my child” letter.
Yes, you should also prepare a file with your child’s Individualize Education Plan (IEP), including suggestions for success from any speech, physical, occupational, mental health or other therapists that works with your child. But don’t expect all teachers to be knowledgeable enough to understand some of the technical material. Your letter should be easy to read.
🍎Provide a toolkit for working with your child. Put things into simple language with bullets of information that the school needs to know to make your child’s experience safe and successful.
🍎Remember, as a parent, you have unique insights about your child that can help your child’s teacher understand his/her strengths and needs. Your candor, experience and advice will be much appreciated. Depending on the age of your child, you may want your child to help write the memo.
🍎4. Request a meeting with your child’s teacher and team.
Yes, everyone is busy. However, if you miss out on having a real substantive conversation, you may create a situation that turns your child off to school and learning.
🍎Additionally, it is not enough to meet with the school principal. You need to sit face-to-face with teacher who will be in the classroom with your child, as well as the school leaders who support that teacher. If appropriate, bring your child’s therapists. Depending on the age of your child, you may want to bring them to this meeting.
🍎Before the meeting, you should send your memo about your child to all the meeting participants. Bring copies of it to the meeting as well, and have your “elevator pitch” about your child ready to go. You may want to practice it in front of someone who can offer constructive criticism. It is important to get your points across quickly so they can ask questions. Teachers will really appreciate your efforts, resources and transparency.
🍎Once the teachers learn about your child, the school may want to put an extra aid in the classroom to support your child’s needs. Alternatively, they may want to match your child with a different teacher who is more experienced. If so, do your “elevator pitch” and Q&A with that teacher as well. The school may benefit from having your child’s occupational or physical therapist meet with them, or join the class for a day, to give the teacher some tips.
🍎5. Ask the teacher and team about their preferred method of communication.
Mutual respect and trust are important to all relationships. This includes the relationship you want to cultivate with your child’s teacher. That’s why it’s important to find out which method of communication suits them the best. Many prefer emails.
🍎6. Be fully transparent with your child’s team.
If your child has tantrums, be sure the staff understands what causes the tantrums, and how to prevent them. If your child needs notification before a transition, or has a tick or expression that they use to indicate he or she is anxious, the team needs to know, so they can best serve your child. This is not the time to worry about privacy – you need to focus on safety and success.
🍎7. Be upbeat. Teachers want proactive parents.
A positive relationship with your child’s teacher will help your child feel good about school. Before you hit “send,” look over emails, making sure they’re respectful of the teacher’s time and also of their efforts to help your child.
🍎8. Share your enthusiasm for learning with your child.
Talk with your child about what they will be learning during the school year and why it is important to you. Let your child know that you have confidence in their ability to master the content, and that you believe it will be a positive part of their life. 🍎Reinforce the natural progression of the learning process that occurs over the school year. Learning skills take time and repetition. Encourage your child to be patient, attentive, and positive.
🍎9. Slow down and take the time to do it right.
Transitions are often difficult for children with disabilities. There will be a few bumps in the road. Your child will have a successful year at school in spite of difficulties. As we move into the first few weeks of school, stay calm and positive. 🍎Remember to take care of yourself. Know your limitations, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. 🍎Make sure your child has enough sleep, plenty of time to get up, eat breakfast, and get to school.
🍎10. Familiarize yourself with the other professionals.
🍎Make an effort to find out who it is in the school who can be a resource for you and your child. 🍎Learn their roles and how best to access their help if you need them. 🍎This can include the principal, cleaning and kitchen crew, front office personnel and others who may work with kids with disabilities on a daily basis.
🍎11. Reinforce your child’s ability to cope.
🍎Give your child a few strategies to manage a difficult situation on his or her own, but encourage your child to tell you or the teacher if problems persist. Maintain open lines of communication with the school.
🍎12. Help your child make at least one real friend there.
🍎Arrange play dates. Try to arrange get-togethers with some of your child’s classmates during the first weeks of school to help your child establish positive social relationships with peers. Go to holiday events with other children and help facilitate actual friendships for your child. Parents of other children both with and without disabilities who are friends with your child can become your new best friends as well.
🍎13. Listen to Your Child’s Feelings.
🍎When your child shows any anxiety about going back to school, the worst thing you can do is brush it off with a “don’t worry about it” response. Listen and be responsive to your own child and empower them to advocate for themselves as well. Show them your love. Sometimes you need to take a little step back in order to move forward.
… AND ANIMALS!
Please! WPS! LET’S OFFER – ESPECIALLY IN OUR HIGH SCHOOLS! – VEGAN OPTIONS IN ALL CAFETERIAS! More veggies, less meat is good – for kids and the planet!
Teachers, Ask Your Students: How Did Your Animal Companions Spend Their Summer?
From stargazing at the park to soaking up the sun at the beach, adventures and memories await. But what about your animal companions? As humans, we can hop into our cars and spend our days as we please. Our animal companions, on the other hand, rely on us for mental stimulation and physical activity. This is especially important to remember when we’re away from home for long stretches.
No matter what kind of animal companion you or your students have in your lives, there are a few universal must-haves for them.
Read over this list and make sure that you and your students know how to be the very best friend to your animal companions.
Important tips to share with your students:
It’s imperative that your animal companions have constant access to a refreshing water supply at all times. Talk to your students about making sure that they stay on top of this.
Fleas and ticks are harmful and can be deadly for animals. Help your animal companions stay free of them by routinely grooming your animals. Flea and tick preventatives are highly recommended as well.
Make sure that your students know never, ever, to leave their animal companions outdoors in the heat – or cold.
Leaving an animal in a hot car is never acceptable. If your animal companions aren’t able to come with you into your destination, leave them at home in a comfortable temperature with plenty of toys to keep them busy until you return.
Parked cars are deathtraps for dogs: On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to 100 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 109 degrees in less than 10 minutes.
If a student planned an all-day adventure at an amusement park or another fun place did they have someone check in on their animal companions and let them outdoors, give them attention and affection, clean their litterboxes and water bowls, and provide any other needed care????
If your students are planning trips this fall, ask them to make sure that they have plans for someone to keep their animal companions company. It helps to have someone that the animals are familiar with, because they’ll miss their guardians and being with someone they know will make this easier on them.
Keep in mind that at no point during the year should animal companions be made to live outdoors.
All animal companions deserve an endless amount of love and affection from us. Make sure that your students know how important it is to spend quality time with their dogs, cats and other animals!
Exercise Idea! Set an alarm for a daily morning or evening walk around the block. Avoid walks during the middle of the day, when the sun is at its hottest. Remind students that if it feels too hot for them, it’s too hot for their animal companions!
Encourage your students to take trips to the library and note that they can even borrow a book or two to read to their animal companions!
America’s iconic animals cannot disappear from our landscape because Trump couldn’t care less about them!!!
McGovern Condemns Trump Administration’s Attack On America’s Endangered Species Act!
Congressman James P. McGovern, chairman of the House Rules Committee, issued yesterday this statement following the Trump administration’s move to dramatically curtail enforcement of the Endangered Species Act:
“The Endangered Species Act is one of America’s most powerful success stories.
“Passed with bipartisan support in Congress and signed into law by a Republican president, it serves as a model for what we can accomplish when Washington sets aside political differences and works together for the good of our country.
“Countless species – including the American bald eagle – have been brought back from the brink of extinction thanks to the robust set of tools provided by the Endangered Species Act.
“Unfortunately, President Trump and Interior Secretary Bernhardt – a former lobbyist for Halliburton– couldn’t care less about conservation and environmental protection.
“They are trying to undermine and dismantle this landmark law as a favor to corporate special interests, big oil lobbyists, and others who want to exploit our land for their own gain. We will fight tooth and nail to protect the natural resources America is blessed with and stop this unbelievably shortsighted and destructive rule change.”
From Health Care For All:
New ‘public charge’ rule would shut out working-class immigrants and harm millions of families
The rule, which goes into effect Oct. 15, would deny green cards or immigrant visas to anyone deemed ‘more likely than not’ to use one of several safety-net programs someday, unless they earn over 250% of the federal poverty line.
Tomorrow the Trump administration will publish a new rule that would curtail legal immigration by vastly expanding who can be denied a green card or visa because they are deemed at risk of becoming a “public charge.”
The rule, which goes into effect on Oct. 15, would redefine “public charge” – a person who depends on government benefits and thus may be turned away – to include not only immigrants who receive cash benefits or need long-term care, but also people with disabilities, those deemed to have limited earning potential, and participants in many “safety net” programs used by millions of working Americans. Overall, it would make it much easier to shut out anyone earning less than 250% of the federal poverty line ($64,375 for a family of four).
“This rule is a perfect example of the wanton cruelty and bigotry that drive this administration,” said Eva A. Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA). “It accomplishes two hateful goals at once: to keep out immigrants who are not wealthy on arrival – mainly people of color – and to sow fear in immigrant families and deter them from accessing ‘safety net’ programs that help keep their children safe, healthy, nourished and learning.”
The Trump administration has been seeking to redefine “public charge” since 2017, and issued a formal proposal last October. News about the rule change fueled widespread fear in immigrant communities, and advocates, educators and health care and social service providers have seen many families drop out of programs. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of advocates and individual citizens submitted public comments warning about the severe harm that the rule could cause.
The final rule unveiled today by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security adds exceptions for Medicaid coverage received by anyone under 21 and by pregnant women (including 60 days postpartum), and it removes Medicare Part D discounts for seniors from the list of programs to be considered. It also continues to exclude benefits received by U.S. citizen children of immigrants. However, it still includes Medicaid coverage, housing assistance and nutrition programs. Most important, because the “public charge” test focuses on applicants’ income, if they don’t earn enough, whether they receive benefits may be effectively irrelevant.
“This is a cruel, reprehensible attempt by the Trump Administration to use access to health care, food, and housing to further its war on immigrants and immigrant communities,” said Georgia Katsoulomitis, executive director of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI). “The published rule will punish low-income, low-wage working immigrants seeking permanent residence in the U.S for accessing assistance for basic human needs. This subverts the nation’s long-standing immigration laws and family unification policy, because new immigrants will not be able to meet this radical new income test. Great nations bring together and strengthen families trying to get ahead; they do not tear them apart. MLRI will work with its many partners nationally and locally to protect the rights of our immigrant families and limit the damage to the Commonwealth that will result from this destructive and shortsighted policy change.”
The rule is not retroactive, and there is a 60-day grace period after the rule is published in the Federal Register on Wednesday. This means that the earliest that immigrants would need to withdraw from programs to avoid being penalized would be Oct. 15, but they should consult with their immigration counselors or attorneys before making a decision.
In the meantime, Massachusetts advocates will continue to work intensively to inform immigrant communities about the changes and their legal rights, and reach out to social service and health care providers to ensure that they have the tools they need to advise their clients and patients.
“This policy is immoral and unjust and does not align with the values of the Commonwealth,” said Amy Rosenthal, executive director of Health Care For All (HCFA). “The best way to build a strong community is to ensure that everyone who lives here has the food, medical care, shelter, and other basics they need to thrive. HCFA has fought for three decades to ensure that individuals and families in the Commonwealth have access to the health care coverage they need and we are proud that we lead the country with the lowest uninsured rate – 97% of our residents have health care coverage. This rule takes us back in time.”
One in five workers in Massachusetts is an immigrant, including over 59% of medical and life scientists, but also 72.1% of housekeeping employees, 49.4% of taxi drivers, and 48% of nursing, psychiatric and home health aides. At all levels of education, immigrants earn less, on average, than their native-born counterparts, reflecting the challenges of getting started in a new country. Nevertheless, immigrant households in the Commonwealth pay an estimated $8.4 billion per year in federal and $3.5 billion in local and state taxes, plus payroll taxes. Existing policies sharply limit immigrants’ access to public benefits.
MIRA, MLRI, HCFA and HLA are part of the national Protecting Immigrant Families campaign, which was launched to oppose any “public charge” expansion that harms families. Leaders of the campaign, starting with the National Immigration Law Center, have vowed to challenge the new rule in court.
The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition is the largest coalition working to advance the rights and integration of our Commonwealth’s 1.1 million foreign-born residents. Its more than 130 organizational members include grassroots community organizations, refugee resettlement agencies, service providers, faith-based organizations and civil and human rights advocates.
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) is a nonprofit poverty law and policy center. It provides statewide advocacy and leadership in advancing laws, policies, and practices that secure economic, racial, and social justice for low-income people and communities. MLRI advances its mission through legal initiatives and policy reforms that address the root causes of poverty, remove barriers to opportunity, and create a path to economic stability for low-income individuals, families, and communities.
Health Care For All is a non-profit advocacy group that envisions a Massachusetts in which everyone has the equitable, affordable, and comprehensive care they need to be healthy. Health Care For All promotes health justice in Massachusetts by working to reduce disparities and ensure coverage and access for all.
Health Law Advocates is a nonprofit public interest law firm that provides pro bono legal representation to low-income residents experiencing difficulty accessing or paying for needed medical services. HLA is committed to ensuring universal access to quality health care in Massachusetts, particularly for those who are most at risk due to such factors as race, gender, disability, age, or geographic location.