Historical and Current Roles of Families and Parents
The central theme of this essay is empowerment and the roles that parents, schools and professionals take on in the quest for the best educational decisions for those children with disabilities and those children that are gifted and talented. It is important to understand the historical development of family-professional relationships to fully comprehend the significance how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go.
In Chapter One, the authors discuss the eight major roles that families and parents have experienced over time. These roles range from the eugenics movement (1880-1930) which pointed to the parents as the sole cause of a child’s disability to today’s view which states that parents can be the cause of some genetic disabilities as well as those disabilities that are caused by drug use or alcohol abuse, but are not to blame for most developmental disabilities. In any case, blaming parents for their child’s disability causes a barrier that impedes progress when we should be expending energy finding ways to support families. Professionals should avoid placing blame on parents and instead, concentrate on empathy and caring and providing support.
Once parents began to organize because of a lack of professional response to their children’s emotional and educational needs, progress has been made in terms of public awareness of disabilities and educational reforms. Professionals no longer expect that parents will assume a passive role in the decision-making process for their children, as has been the case in the past. Instead, the authors advocate that an environment should be established where collaboration between parents and professionals create a bond of trust that benefits everyone involved.
To create such an environment, it is important for professionals to recognize the important role that parents provide for their children in terms of teaching them, as advocates in the political process, as educational decision-makers and as collaborators. Collaboration refers to the relationship between families and professionals whereby resources are shared and decisions are made jointly, with the child’s best interests in mind. Recent trends in the collaborative process include input from families, students, classmates, teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals and other related service providers. In this way, appropriate decisions can be made that are the result of information gathered from a variety of sources. These educational decisions will be much more likely to be successful when everyone works together for a common goal- that of providing the best educational environment for a particular child.
SCHOOLS AS SYSTEMS: THE CONTEXT FOR FAMILY-PROFESSIONAL COLLABORATION
Chapter two describes the general education reform movement that has resulted in enhanced curriculum for all students. There has been a separate reform movement in...