Every special education student is entitled to his or her annual review, three-year assessment meeting, and other meetings to discuss specific programming, academic, or behavioral concerns for just about any viable reason. In the local urban public school system, as with any other system in the state, a team of professionals is required by law to accommodate families of their students in this way. It does tend to be more the exception than the rule, however, when what might be called a “helicopter parent”, i.e. one with well-meaning intention but who curiously ends up doing more harm than good in spite of themselves through micromanagement of their child’s affairs, comes in for a “landing” to culminate an issue or set of issues in the local inner city educational venue.
Kudos to concerned parents who take an active interest in their child’s education. Local inner city schools should be so lucky to have more parent involvement. Go back to the definition of “helicopter parent and see that we are not exactly talking about simply the concerned parent. Preparing for a meeting with an overinvolved parent is labor intensive and not in the literal sense, since pre-meeting before an educational meeting violates educational law. The preparation that goes on surrounding this type of session really occurs within the educational team member because the standard of excellence he or she takes such pride in day-to-day is suddenly put on the chopping block and reduced to something they do not even recognize in themselves since it is anything but even remotely accurate.
Indeed, this depiction may sound harsh and even unbelievable to some who have never encountered such an event. For it is certainly understandable and appropriate to work with every family of our students to ensure the best possible educational program, even if the details are not what is “typical” for the team. Often, the requests are not typical and being flexible is the name of the game. This is the whole essence of the individualized educational plan for students. It is a given that no educational team would even consider denying any parent their wishes, again provided they are within the realm of laws, policies, and procedures. These mandates, however, are present at many levels and must be adhered to.
There is a much bigger issue on the table, though. Unfortunately, underneath the many layers of a very involved parent often lies a hardened core of mistrust that cannot easily be dissolved or reasoned with. No one has ever said working with local urban special needs students and their families was easy. But, without trust and a mutual understanding that both sides of the table actually want what is best for the child in question, creativity is stifled and no synergistic solutions can come to fruition.
Still, there is no quick fix when it comes to managing what the micromanaging parent in the local inner city school system. Trust and rapport is developed over time with most reasonable and interested team members. Conscientious educators will always care deeply about their students and the individualized instructional methodologies and systems for academic success to which they adhere and adjust as needed. It still holds that when the teaching professionals no longer drive instruction and are oppressed or threatened to do what they are trained and well-qualified to do, everyone loses.