Grassroots Inclusion Manifesto – Call to Action
You are part of a movement.
That means there are 1,407,954 special needs parents in California. And that doesn’t include your friends, extended family, and other people who believe in you, care about you, and believe in your child.
It also doesn’t include younger kids with disabilities and disabled adults and their families, friends, and supporters.
Together, we would be the third largest “ethnic” group in the state.
A political powerhouse. .. or we could be…. Are you ready to join together?
You feel so alone
Yet, somehow, we feel like we are alone against a system that is rigged against our kids and grinds us down.
Day after day after day after day.
No matter how smart you are, prepared you are, it is a constant fight.
As I write this, my school district is refusing to even enroll my son as a transitional kindergarten student – in spite of it being the law here in California since 2014.
As I write this, they are refusing to even talk to us about an IEP goal that will target actually educating him in spite of the US law and court cases that say they must.
Because my wife and I are just two people up against a bureaucracy that has decided it is easier to not educate kids than to give them a fair chance.
Against a state and federal government that has refused to honor their own laws and promises of equal opportunity and end discrimination against people with disabilities.
Every day they delay is a dollar they don’t have to spend.
That is all they care about.
They have nothing to lose and time is on their side.
They can wait.
They can grind us down.
At best, they’ll make us quit.
At worst, they’ll eventually have to start providing the services that they should have been providing for years.
(Maybe a settlement that will come out of the budget for all the other special education kids in your district)
Even then – no skin off their nose.
40 years of fighting alone has got to end.
We have got to stand together.
1,407,954 of us (and more) in California alone.
For 40 years we have relied on administrative procedures and court cases to help our kids.
They’ll fight us individually for years and they’ll fight us in court for decades (a group of parents in Morgan Hill are just now in the legal discovery phase 7 years into their case).
We need to stand up.
It doesn’t take a lot of people to start having leverage.
Our new group, snkids.org, organized a postcard campaign in support of a local education parcel tax In San Mateo and Foster City.
Together with several hundred volunteers, we sent out over 10,000 postcards. It mattered. The parcel tax won by just over 500 votes… the last time, it lost by only 310 votes.
Organized voters matter a lot.
Politicians start listening.
Business leaders start listening.
We must organize to make change happen
IDEA is almost 44 years old.
In that same 40 years, the gay rights movement has gone from literally nothing (actually being illegal in many jurisdictions) to having a solid set of legal rights thoroughly embedded in California (and in most other places around the US).
In that same 40 years, the gay rights movement has gone from being pariahs in the shadows to being welcomed by many and accepted by most in our society.
And that is only with 5% of the population.
… our 703,977 kids are 11.3% of all kids…. 1,407,954 of us.
That is a lot of votes.
That is a lot of voters.
You have a lot of power
… if you’ll act together.
We are in a political fight for our kid’s lives.
Terrible education. Dismal employment prospects (no minimum wage protection even). Poor health care. Premature death.
The more you look at the problem, the worse it gets.
The law won’t save our kids (it is already pretty good).
Implementation is the problem.
Funding is the problem.
Culture and attitudes are the biggest problem.
(Ours and theirs)
We too need to organize as a political force to change our society to do what they know they should do.
We too need to come out of the shadows.
There is nothing to be ashamed of about having a disability or a child with a disability.
We created snkids.org as a 501c4 organization to change the politics and systems for all special needs kids.
“Better outcomes for all special needs kids” is our goal.
You need you.
Your kids need you.
If you won’t fight for your kids, who will?