Saturday, March 22, 2008

"By your endurance you will gain your souls" (Luke 21:19)

Judy mentioned this verse to me this morning, and after what I saw in the IEP meeting yesterday, she certainly got me thinking. That meeting revealed real depravity, and what it does to those who practice it.

The case manager, a doctor of educational psychology in charge of that function at West End SELPA, could not understand that refusing to go to school, or shutting down because it's too horrible to endure, is in fact behavior. She appeared truly puzzled when we tried to drive home that point.

She undoubtedly knew back in elementary school that refusing to go to school and laying your head on your arms when confronted with school work is behavior. 15 years of schooling and maybe 30 years of work experience in education, and now the chief educational psychologist at a Special Education Local Plan Area - and she doesn't know that anymore!

The Due Process coordinator, who joined us when the conversation seemed to them to be going badly, objected to my discussion of Stephen's PTSD that Shawna was not licensed in California and did not have a graduate degree, so that they didn't have to pay any attention to her evidence. Never mind that the most traumatic event in Stephen's life, followed up by another year of the same people continuing to threaten him with harm, what else would it do to anybody? Never mind that he becomes physically sick even in the presence of cops or school personnel. Never mind even that both evaluators noted it and commented that Stephen was afraid to work with them unless I was physically present! The point for this woman is not to know the truth about Stephen's condition, so as to do him the most good and the least further harm possible. It's all about finding any way possible to deny him whatever she can get away with denying him, and covering in every way possible for his abusers.

Count on it, she didn't get into education to use her intelligence and skills as effectively as possible to do all she can to rob wounded kids of the help they need. 30 years ago, if she could have seen a video of herself yesterday - with her voice and features disguised so she didn't know who it was - what would she have said? Today, she has become that person, and perfectly comfortable having become what 30 years ago would have horrified her.

We aren't the captains of our souls, as one fool wrote, drunk on empty conceit. Through endurance in the truth we can come to possess our souls, as Jesus said, but how easily we lose them!

But you've written quite a story and you've changed since the womb.
What happened to the real you, you've been captured but by whom?
-Bob Dylan

These women are not paragons of depravity. How typical they are! 30 years ago, those women were just as far from what they are today as I would like to kid myself I am right now. They were wrong then about what they would become, and when I think that way today, I'm just as deluded - and not far from losing my own soul.

They are my enemies and the mortal enemies of my son, but what's really scary is none of that, although of course I have to take fitting precautions. It's that in them I get a long look at myself in the mirror - and if I want to endure to the end and gain my own soul I need to keep gazing into that mirror and see myself.

We can't love our enemies because we're terrified to really look at them and thus into ourselves. We're hating the mirror for not telling us we're the fairest of them all. And if we don't confront that madness in ourselves, we'll be just as insensate as these women were yesterday.

Friday, March 21, 2008

School news

Very busy lately. We just held the followup IEP meeting, which I was expecting to be fairly brief and a profitable discussion of why Stephen's placement went down in flames, with ideas where to go from here.

Well, it was a profitable discussion of all these things, and our advocate, Carrie Watts, did a great job. We got discussed all the things we should have done in the initial meeting in January. We were at it four hours, from 1 to 5 until they closed the building. It's like they didn't hear a word we said, like explaining dynamic address translation to our cat. But it's all on the tape.

I'm sure glad the advocate was there; she made all the difference. We met Jeff Morris too, and Brenda Walker from CVUSD, and Ann Savage from West End SELPA. Jean Martin put in an appearance too. Heather Williams and the others were present indirectly through the Soviet prosecutor's black telephone - they did not make a personal appearance, but outside the meeting made known their will to others to deny us what Stephen needs. The law is that these matters are to be determined by the IEP Team in the meeting, not outside on the phone with bureaucrats not even attending the meeting, but we're getting used to what these folks think of the law!

Our homework is for Stephen and me to sit with Laura at Keystone to work on some goals that he was needed for, but which he wasn't available for before, while Carrie writes a letter for me to review Monday.

Joshua is on his way to an IEP in May, a story that began yesterday, but which I can't now go into in detail. It was cool that he prayed just the day before about some help for some problems, and, however inelegantly, that help arrived the next day. This is going very peacefully so far, in contrast to Stephen, but we shall see how that unfolds in future. He left for Paris for a week with a whole bunch of other students this morning, returning about 3:30 PM Saturday the 29th.

Yesterday, I sent to all the State Senators and Assembly Members on the respective Education Committees, plus the Assembly Judiciary Chairman, Dave Jones, an explanation of how the California Education Code falls short of Federal law in protecting kids with disabilities, with appropriate documentation to support the changes needed. It has been the Legislature's intention to make California law conform to the Federal law, and it doesn't, so they may want to do something about that. We will see what happens. Maybe nothing, maybe something, but it's worth a try. They're in recess until the 24th, so I certainly expect nothing for now.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

"My heritage is beautiful to me" (Psalm 16)

A Mikhtam of David

Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.
I said to the Lord, "You are my lord; Ihave no good besides You."
As for the holy ones who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who have bartered for another will be multiplied;
I shall not pour out their libations of blood, nor shall I take their names upon my lips.

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup.
You do support my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

I will bless the Lord who has counseled me;
Indeed, my kidneys instruct me in the night.
I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Neither will You give your holy one to see corruption.

You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

- Psalm 16

I said a while ago that I would have a few things to say about Psalm 16, and then like Perez, Psalm 43 popped through.

Not everybody can expect what David expects in this psalm, for sure. In particular, "The sorrows of those who barter for another will be multiplied." But David says, "The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me."

That's a big thing. The lines fall, defining our inheritance in God, and they exclude a lot else. Bartering for another happens when we're not satisfied with the inheritance God gives. We need something else that he isn't giving, and so like Esau we trade away our inheritance because we want some of that, outside the lines.

How do we get over this insanity? "I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; indeed my kidneys instruct me in the night." It's the Lord's counsel that gives me sanity, so as not to trade away the truth God leads me to for some other treat in this world - victory, praise, wealth, and such like as the world counts them. And his counsel comes though my kidneys in the night, not from some super-spiritual place or experience. I've been seeing lately how my own body gives me good advice - for instance, the crappy feeling I get from pride or wrath, which pick me up and drop me as other dope does.

The Lord will be at my right hand if I set him always before me. When I decide what to do or say, it will go better when I'm always looking at the Lord, waiting to hear his thinking and to consider all that he says. But why should I expect him to be there and back me up if I don't want him in my face? The moral of that is, I need to find out the specific ways and times I want God out of my face, and to get that insanity straightened out.