SPEDWatch - Special Education Activism

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I help SPEDWatch?
The most important thing you can do is to Join Us. With every new SPEDWatch member our ability to fight for the educational rights of students with disabilities is strengthened. Donations are always needed, and we are always looking for volunteers to work on one time projects, and on longer term activities.

What am I obligated to do if I join SPEDWatch?
Nothing. Members are free to participate in the SPEDWatch movement in any way they like. Some simply pay their annual dues and receive the monthly newsletter, while others are very active in many aspects of our work. It’s entirely up to you.

Does SPEDWatch provide advocacy services?
No. We do not provide one on one advocacy services for individual students. There is a very strong network of advocates in Massachusetts who already do this work. SPEDWatch concentrates its energy on changing the educational system so that individual advocacy will no longer be necessary.

Will SPEDWatch be filing lawsuits?
No. Again, we are lucky to have many fine special education attorneys in Massachusetts who are prepared to do this work. SPEDWatch concentrates its energy on changing the educational system so that litigation in this area will no longer be necessary.

How are SPEDWatch membership fees used?
They are used to pay for the general operating costs of the organization.

Who can join SPEDWatch?
Anyone. We do not restrict our membership in any way. While most of our members are parents, teachers and other professionals have also joined us.

Will joining SPEDWatch hurt my relationship with my school district?
We doubt it. If you already have a good relationship with your school district there is no reason to believe SPEDWatch membership alone would somehow change that. If the relationship you have with your district is strained, joining SPEDWatch may actually help turn that around. As a SPEDWatch member you will be gaining knowledge and confidence that will help you work with your district in a more proactive and less defensive manner. Although they may not always agree with you, as your knowledge and confidence grows your district will come to respect you as a well-informed parent.

How do you expect schools to give services if they don’t have the money to pay for them?
We realize that schools don’t have the money they need to service our children. However, the answer to that problem cannot be to simply deny children an education. We live in the wealthiest nation on Earth. We have more than enough money to educate all children; we’ve just chosen not to do so.

Well, what do you expect the schools to do, then?
We expect them to put pressure on our state lawmakers, and Congress, until the money they need to do their job is appropriated.

Regular kids have to suffer with larger class sizes and user fees because all the money has to go to special education. How is that fair?
What’s really unfair is that we have this educational funding system that ends up pitting kids with disabilities against those without. It’s a system that creates adversarial relationships between parents and schools. We spend all our time fighting over money and services instead of teaching and working together. Its also a system that, by its very nature, stigmatizes kids. We have regular education, and then we have special education. What we really should be doing is meeting the individual educational needs of all our children regardless of what those needs are.