An elegantly written and wisely pragmatic new book – Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2014) – has been published this month to help parents navigate the special education system on behalf of their children. The book was written by parents, Judith Canty Graves and Carson Graves, who learned the ropes both by advocating successfully for their own child from preschool through high school, and also by engaging extensively with many other parents and professionals along the way to learn the wider and deeper elements of the process. Their book carries the same gently persistent spirit, judicious sense of proportion, and sharp intelligence that marked their advocacy for their child, and the lessons they learned should help all parents of children with learning challenges – both those who are new to the process and those who feel frustrated and powerless after suffering multiple bureaucratic defeats along the way – avoid many common mistakes. I was honored to be asked to contribute a foreword to this book, which I entitled, “Looking Back and Leaning Forward.” There I took the opportunity to survey some key developments in the history of special education advocacy and the course of legislative and judicial interpretations and modifications over the decades that, in the aggregate, now define the context for the advocacy of which the Graves have written.
Towards the end of that foreword I wrote: “Notwithstanding all my dark descriptions of the erosion of rights and hopes since 1972, parents who take the time to educate themselves about the process and train themselves with the help of manuals like this one can make tremendous gains in their advocacy for their children. … Read this book and keep it handy for frequent reference! And may you, with its help, fight your way to a fantastic program for your child!”
All best to our readers in this new year!