Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Mom Likes Me Best

Mary Heim's sainthood is well established among those who know her. This is especially so for those who she didn't just tolerate, but facilitated and managed with great skill; that would be her family, a high maintenance crew of misfits that includes husband Max (Dr. Heim the greater), daughter Diana, and sons David and John (Dr. Heim the lesser). For purposes of this blog, I will focus on her ability to manage family equity.

These were the days before PL94142, more commonly known as Special Education, and any kid that needed help was considered lazy or stupid. My siblings were in fact much smarter and hard-working than their middle sibling; they just needed additional help because they were born with learning disabilities. This was before LD was formally recognized, but my mom saw it and she pursued solutions like, well, like a mother.

Mom took my brother and sister to special tutors, read lessons to them every night, tried things that didn't work, and tried things that did.  Because of her efforts, both my brother and sister graduated from college and have led productive lives.  Me? I didn’t have to work very hard in school and didn't need a lot of help from mom, but when I did, she was there.

As we struggle with a providing equity and adequacy in a Kansas school funding formula we would do well to get my mom involved.  Equity doesn’t look the same in every district.  Equity doesn’t forget districts with special needs, but neither does it forget districts without them.  

Kansans recognize that districts have different needs.  Kansans know that we have to think about how to provide the best education to all of our children.  My mom instilled in her family the understanding that helping my brother and sister was different from helping me, but it was just what we all needed. My brother and sister never did a happy dance 
because “mom likes us better.” 

Kansans are family.  School leaders, board members and superintendents through the years have helped the current generation understand that we can fight and bicker about who gets more, or we can fight to make sure all students get what they need.

Many legislators recognize that it is not necessary to play a zero sum game, just like my mom did.  We need to support them in their efforts to build a strong system of public education in Kansas. Oh, and don't get me wrong on the family dynamics- mom ALWAYS liked me better.

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