Susan's Blog

Friday, January 12, 2007

Another Brilliant Career

I am thinking that I could be an Autism Organizer, along the same lines as the old union organizers. This is something I’ve done in my own town, and something I’ve done with other causes. I’m good at taking an issue, tapping into the collective frustration in that group, and organizing the people involved into a group. Then I advise them as to how to hone their message and take it to the powers that be for change. We now have Brookline CARE in my town, which I co-founded, (Brookline Coalition for Authentic Reform in Education), primarily to fight the high-stakes use of our state exam, the MCAS. (I have written about the MCAS many times; it is the misnamed “Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System. It was originally supposed to be a “comprehensive assessment” instrument, meaning a system of multiple assessments. Now what that has come to mean is many, many standardized tests! Rather than looking at student work, teachers’ evals., portfolios, oral presentations…)

Because of Brookline CARE’s advocacy, the town of Brookline has been on record for several years as being opposed to high-stakes testing, and in favor of multiple assessments. Brookline has resisted changing its excellent curriculum to fit the state Board of Ed’s idea of Euro-centric, drill-and-kill education.

And recently, I have been an advisory part of the formation of COBAP, Coalition of Brookline Autism Parents. This group has a mission statement now and an organization and a yahoo group that is private. They will be meeting monthly with the Special Education superintendent in our town; we just did the other day and it was a very successful start. We have even managed to wrest some budgetary changes out of a very tight fiscal year; at least, that is the intent. The School Committee has to approve it, still.

I will also be part of forming a tax increase campaign in our town, when the time comes. I love organizing people and creating groups.

I have been on the School Committee, I’m a Town Meeting Member, and I have written for the local paper for years so I can advise on all of these aspects.

So why not put my energy where there is a real, aching need? As an Autism Organizer. As it is, I get questions from readers quite frequently about what to do in their town and I advise them accordingly. I don’t want to be an advocate for individual families so much, although I love to do that, too, but rather, for groups who need to get their school boards and superintendents to listen.

The whole problem is, how do I get to these families? How do I get paid?

But if you have a group of parents and you want to organize, I’m your point person. Spread the word!

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