Family Friendly Tech and Advocacy: Tech Psychologist's Guide by Dr. Jeanne Beckman

Family Friendly Tech and Advocacy: Tech Psychologist's Guide   by Dr. Jeanne Beckman
Finally, a book to help families find the right technology to accommodate reading disorders (dyslexia) and other disabilties! ISBN 978-1-60264-089-4

How to purchase my book

To purchase through Virtual Bookworm (my publisher) you can click Virtual Bookworm Publisher: Tech Psychologist's Guide or
Amazon no longer allows Illinois professionals to get credit for referrals to Amazon due to a sales tax dispute. I will be referring to Powell's in the near future.

What is that TinyURL notation that you see in my blog? For those who use a screen reader, the link that is hidden behind words like Tech Psychologist Guide remains hidden. However, screen readers can read aloud the website address, or URL, if it was produced by Also, sometimes these addresses are so long that they wrap around several lines or overlap into colored areas of a website that obscure the actual address. Intrigued? You can create your own tinyurl's at

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wasting Our Country's Greatest Resources

Every day, schools punish the victims of the school's failures to adapt their teaching styles to the needs of their students. Every corner of our country has benefited from Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, even though they had disabilities that challenged them from learning in the conventional ways. While most schools can understand that a blind individual, like Helen Keller (Radcliffe graduate, magna cum laude), needed adapted testing in order to demonstrate what she knew, many current school administrators often believe it is in their purview to decide whether a particular student should receive specialized (adapted or "accommodated") instruction within their "regular" classes in their community schools with their age peers that will prepare the student to be a contributing member of society or a burden.

If a child "fails" a standardized exam, it is the school administrator's failure to insure that the school teaches the regular curriculum in a way that the student can fully benefit or a failure to provide the test in a format that the student can demonstrate what he or she has learned, or both.

In a recent article in the Nashville City Paper,

Don McFolin is the parent of a McGavock High School senior with Asperger’s syndrome. McFolin is a fierce advocate for his son, and for the young man’s right to graduate with a regular diploma.

McFolin is proud of his son’s accomplishments, and will readily note that the boy is an Eagle Scout, a member of the National Society of High School Scholars, part of Who’s Who Among American High School Students, and was a participant in the People to People Student Ambassador Program.

It is the young man’s dream to attend college and then pursue a master’s degree in history, so that he can someday teach in a university history department.

“He’s a walking set of Encyclopedia Britannica,” McFolin said.

But as proud as McFolin is, he is concerned that his son won’t be able to graduate with a regular Tennessee diploma.

That’s because his son has a mathematics processing disorder, and a graduation requirement in Tennessee is passing the Algebra Gateway Test. Even if McFolin’s son completes every other requirement, he only will earn a diploma that serves as a certificate of attendance, which most accredited colleges will not accept.

As hard as McFolin’s son has worked, and as much as he has accomplished, McFolin says the boy cannot achieve his dreams without a regular diploma.
Read more:

Schools and their legal teams, funded by the deep pockets of the communities they are supposed to serve, like to argue that they are not required to help children achieve their full potential, only that they are required to do an adequate job. Or they argue that they should segregate these students from their age peers because it is too great a burden on the schools to provide the necessary accommodations so that the student can be integrated into the regular classrooms. Segregation, whether due to skin color or need for a teaching method that actually teaches the student, is against the law and against the moral fabric of our country. Children grow up to be adults, and they need to be fully prepared to be productive members of our workforce as well as their own communities.
Imagine if a locomotive manufacturer was not accountable to make sure that the train could maintain full speed and quickly stop, but was instead only required to make sure it could slowly start and slowly stop and if the train crashed, it was the passengers' faults because they somehow did not work hard enough. Imagine if the locomotive manufacturer stated that it was just too expensive and they could not afford to fix the locomotive so that it would be fully functional. A silly analogy, but failing to provide an education that allows every child to achieve his or her full potential IS A TRAIN WRECK for the individual, for the family, for the community, and for the future workforce of our country. It doesn't make sense.
It is time for parents to take back the control of their schools and demand full accountability of their administrators to insure that every child receives a full and appropriate education that allows the student to achieve his or her full potential.
It is the school's job to be accountable to the parents in making sure that every single child has a full opportunity to be prepared for his or her next environment.
There are secret but forbidden words in the education field. Parents are not allowed to ask that the schools provide an education that allows a child to achieve his or her "full potential," instead parents, if they can muster the $30,000 or so to legally challenge the bullying of the deep pockets of school-board funding of attorneys are only allowed to ask for an "adequate" education. Robert Kennedy spoke of those who dream and ask why and that he would instead ask "why not?" To those who say we cannot ask for our children to achieve their full potential, I, too, ask why not? Our country cannot afford continued mediocrity.
Thomas Edison's school failed to provide an education that provided a benefit for him, claiming he was "addled." Our country has benefited greatly because his mother, an educated woman, homeschooled him. Our country cannot afford to throw away these students.
Obama energized our country with "yes we can." I would add that, when schools tell students and families that they "can't" get a diploma or "can't" demand that school administrators be held accountable, we should say, "Oh yes we can."