“Advocacy”

Since the bus issue was resolved with the new route, we’ve really had few problems – the first day hiccups aside, and also disregarding bad weather, of course.

One of the things that happens when you go the route I go, though, is that you get a letter from the CEO of Schools afterwards.

Because I’ve constantly felt like I’ve been ignored when I email the transportation office (or, at the very least, they de-prioritize my issues as long as they can), I tend to include the CEO of Schools when I yell at the head of the transportation department, otherwise known as the “Director of Pupil Transportation”.

This morning, when I arrived at work, the letter had already hit my mailbox.  It’s the usual summary of what happened – that she “forwarded [my] latest issue with Durham School Services to the Director of Pupil Transportation for immediate investigation”, that they’ve moved the Monster to a different company and that they’ll keep an eye on the situation to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.  I’m not sure that I honestly buy that, given that they’ve shown they’re not really willing to hold the bus vendors accountable for their performance, but we’ll see.

The message, though, concludes thusly:

Once again, we regret any inconvenience you and your son were caused by this incident.  Thank you for your advocacy on [the Monster]’s behalf.

I like that word, “advocacy”.  Especially because, honestly, it’s not the right word in this case.  What I’m doing is not advocacy.  It’s called “keeping the schools honest.”

Advocacy would be if I came in and pushed for more special needs services.  If I had suggestions for how they could better deliver the services he’s entitled to, or if I had something I could promote to help with such things.  If I came in to talk to them about changing the mindset that they’re using for delivery.  Literally, “public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.”  (Thank you, Google.)

Now, one could argue that I’m doing what any good parent should be doing with a school-age child.  I’m keeping on top of what his education program includes.  We’re, as a team, making sure he does his homework and that we reinforce what we can from the school program.  And when something goes awry – like the bussing, or like the issue with the classroom swap, or other matters with the schools themselves – we step in and take steps to correct them.   It’s not “advocacy”, but rather parenting.

Of course, it could also simply be a code-word for “gigantic pain in the ass” but I’ll take it regardless.  One wonders what word she’d have used if I’d done what I had first wanted to do: go find her at North Avenue and show her what this eloquent, ticked-off Warrior Parent sounds like in person….

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