I always respond by saying, “No, it’s okay. It’s actually a good thing.” The fact that my children have received special education services is a large part of why they’re both succeeding and growing into competent, confident young people.
Like all parents, I love to talk about my kids. I have no problem sharing that each of my children deals with a different type of learning disability. My son has serious challenges with working memory and executive function. Meanwhile, my daughter has learned to manage her dyslexia thanks to perseverance and clever uses of technology, such as voice to text. I’m immensely proud of their achievements and am thankful for the all the efforts of skilled professionals who have contributed to their education.
Unfortunately, the pained sympathetic looks and hushed tones don’t end with my children.
As executive director for the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), I travel across North America on behalf of the association. I’m often asked, “What does your organization do?”
With deep pride and respect, I tell people that CEC is the international professional association for special educators. Recently, I was explaining CEC to a convention and visitors bureau representative who would very much like to host CEC’s annual convention. And here’s what I got back: “Oh, how nice that those teachers help handicapped children…”
I had to glance at my Apple watch just to make sure it’s really 2016!
When I think of the educators—both in special and general education—who taught my children, I think of words like knowledgeable, determined, professional, humorous, and of course, compassionate.
But, they don’t do what they do because they are nice, they do it because they are intelligent, competent professionals who are dedicated to improving the outcomes of all of their students.
They deserve the world’s respect as well as its support.
Special education desperately needs a brand revolution and I think CEC 2017 in Boston is the perfect place to start it. After all, Boston knows a thing or two about revolutions!
I need YOUR help to do get our brand makeover underway. You can start by joining us to engage and connect with 5,000 colleagues and the best experts in the field who will be sharing the latest and greatest in strategies, curriculum and technology to help all educators succeed in helping their students succeed.
CEC 2017 will be all about raising the profile of special education and ensuring that special educators are regarded as the consummate experts they are. We’ll jump-start our brand revolution with an opening session that celebrates the beauty and spirit in differences (more details about our dynamic speaker to come!).
In the meantime, please send me an email and share your thoughts about how we can cast special educators in their true light and engage the field in a special education brand revolution.
I have a feeling I will hear from you—shyness is NOT a word I would use to describe special educators! J
Alexander T. Graham
Council for Exceptional Children