Just another Minnesota Mom blog.

Communication is Key

Posted: May 31st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Autism, Early Intervention, Living in the City, Minneapolis Schools, Parenting | Tags: acceleration 2020, ASP Program, Burroughs, Citywide autism program, Minneapolis Public Schools, Sheridan | 1 Comment »

Change is Coming

If you are going to make big sweeping changes to how something is done, you need to communicate early (and often!) to the people those changes will be affecting.  This seems like a simple rule, but  it’s not always put into practice.

Over the past few months our district has been talking about upcoming changes to the autism program.  I have zero issues with the current program, it’s been fabulous for the boys, and they are thriving.  We are very happy in Minneapolis Public Schools.  At the Monthly SEAC meetings I’ve attended, any discussion about the changes have made sense to me, and I have been comfortable with what is being rolled out.  There has been very little push-back to the changes at the meetings I’ve been to.

If the changes are implemented well, this could be a great way of getting kids back into their classrooms, back into their community schools (vs being segregated into cluster schools), and more aligned with the federal settings.

I am not so naive as to believe there will not be stumbling blocks, or that the changes will be right for every single child, but I think the reasons for the changes are sound, and I think the changes are overall good, and I think this could really work.

I seem to be very alone in my opinions, at least I haven’t found many other parents who agree (or are willing to speak up on the matter).  I am starting to think this is because the vast majority of parents do not know about the changes yet, and those who do are being informed by a very vocal group of parents who are absolutely outraged (Call the media! This is Criminal! This is detrimental to our kids!) vs by the people who should be sharing the information: the people who came up with the plan- the Special Education department.

You can not imagine how much this has made me question my sanity or intelligence.  How can I, an educated mother of two autistic sons entering 1st grade, be so daft as to think these changes are OK, when everyone else is screaming for every advocate in the sate to take up the cause of putting an end to these changes?  I’ve asked nearly everyone I know who has seen and heard the same information if I am missing something, and I have been assured I am not.

Am I just more level-headed?  Maybe I can see past the knee-jerk reaction to freak out whenever something will affect the boys, and give it a chance?  Maybe I am more trusting in my boy’s abilities?  Maybe I am too trusting of the boy’s educators to want the best for them? Maybe I can see the good the changes will bring?  Maybe I am right and they are wrong?  Maybe we are both right?

What I want to know is this- what would the motivation be for a district to set up kids for such failure?  Because that is what these parents are saying these changes amount to- nothing but detrimental, criminal level failure of our children, who will be no doubt ostracized in the process, and left on their own to fumble through.  Apparently in this world, IEPs don’t exist, and neither do federal settings.

So far all I’m hearing is the token “it’s all about the budget”, but I hate to break it to you, in a school district EVERYTHING is about the budget.

There has to be more.  I don’t think the district would do something to cause this much blowback, if they didn’t think the changes were good, and important, and that kids would be supported.

At this point I want to completely remove myself from the conversation.  Those who are talking the loudest do not want to hear dissent.  They are only interested in finding people who agree, or those who haven’t heard any information yet, because they can be easily swayed.  And really, what could I possibly say?  I have nothing to back myself up- there is nowhere to direct people to get information at this point.

Do you see what I mean about communicating early and often?  The district has already lost on this, because they are letting a group of unhappy parents write the script.  As we go into the last week of the school year, with the last SEAC meeting this Thursday, I just want to skip ahead to August, and have the changes in place.

Let’s get some information out there MPS.  Stop letting this conversation be based on fear and negative propaganda.


Lunch Wars by Amy Kalafa {A Review}

Posted: September 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Reviews and Giveaways | Tags: BlogHer Book Review, Lunch Wars, Minneapolis Public Schools, Nutrition | 1 Comment »

Lunch Wars Book CoverWhen the opportunity to do my first BlogHer book review for Lunch Wars by Amy Kalafa came up, I jumped. I tend to read pretty foodie oriented books (my last book was The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball) and my heart goes pitter patter when the topic of Farm to Table comes up so I thought I would really love this book. I have kids in public school, I have a vested interest in them eating good food there. This book is perfect for me. Right?

This was a tough book for me. First off, I had a really hard time getting into it. When I was hit with 2 pages of lists of additives to avoid I almost rolled out of my bed from boredom. This isn’t to say it’s not a great book, there is a lot of information here and I’m sure it would really helpful in getting someone started on a School Food Revolution, but I was skeptical. How could this work in the school *my* kids go to?

I just got this really negative feeling, like the only thing a school could do that would pass muster would be to bring in a chef and locally source foods and make everything from scratch. All I could think was- schools are strapped for cash, how are they supposed to pay for this? What would they have to cut? My kids are special needs- what would *they* have to give up so a salad bar could be put into their lunchroom?

I don’t know. I don’t like the thought of cutting *more* in our inner city schools. My sons school isn’t under corporate sponsorship and actually, when I took a look at the lunch menu online I didn’t think it looked too bad. They even had a list of items that were locally sourced!

Then I dug a little deeper and found that Minneapolis Public Schools are making some great strides in turning around their lunch program- thanks to some insiders.

That made me feel like better food in schools was a possibility. It also made me feel like this idea didn’t need to be an Us vs Them type of battle (a vibe I was getting from the book).

So, lots to think about with this book! I think the main thing I brought away was this: you need to do your homework. Find out what your kids are eating. What are their options. If your kids are racking up their lunch bill on Snapple and Rice Krispie Treats you might want to follow the steps in this book and see if you can make some changes to the offerings at your school.

For many kids, school breakfast and lunch is the only food they eat all day. Let’s make it better.

*Disclosure: I was provided a book to review free of charge through the BlogHer Book Review program.  All opinions are my own.