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Episode 47

Advocating For Your Kids Within The School System

Dr. Sarah Yee, fellow at the Center for Equity and Inclusion

You’re listening to Together by AGCI. I’m Marisa Butterworth.

Today, I have the opportunity to introduce you to my good friend, Dr. Sarah Yee, here with me to talk about how to advocate for our kids within the school system. Sarah is a wealth of experience and knowledge. She is a former K through eight educator, and currently serves on the education team at the center for equity and inclusion in Portland, Oregon. She is a wife and a mom to two adorable little boys. I met Sarah at church years ago when she started volunteering in our kids program and have been so fortunate to be able to stay connected with her. Even before Sarah became a doctor, she has been an advocate for underserved and vulnerable populations. And over the years, I have learned so much from her. I think you will too. Sarah, thank you so much for being willing to jump on the show with me and share your expertise with us today. I am so excited. It’s seriously such an honor to have you on, and I’ve been looking forward to this and, um, I just appreciate you getting on and being willing to, to talk about how to advocate for our kids within the school system, which is its own beast. I feel like it’s its own thing.

So will you share with us, like how, um, you became passionate about this work and um, like why I referred to your expertise because you’re an actual expert, which I always love to have on. It’s not just my opinion on something. Yeah. Thank you for having me. Um, I, I mean, I always love being in space with you and just having conversations with you. And I feel like we always lose track of time and are excited to talk about this as well, or just to be able to talk with you in general. So yeah, I, my background is in education. Um, I was in the classroom for about seven to eight years and loved my job. Like just never, never woke up a single day thinking, oh, I don’t want to work today. Just loved my job so much. And towards the, um, last few years that I was in the classroom, I started working with the Oregon writing project, which is very equity and social justice based and really just kind of, um, not open my eyes, I want to say, but kind of like unearthed and woke this part of me that was always there. And I just really started to feel like, oh, this is why I love what I do so much. And this is why I want to keep doing what I do, but I kind of want to do it in more of this direction toward equity.

And, um, I started working on my building equity team and getting involved in the districts, work with it and just started to feel kind of that passion growing. And so I knew I wanted to go back to school, um, and just learn as much as I possibly could, especially like historically where we’ve come in education with this. And so I went back to school and, um, that’s when I really took a deep dive into, uh, diversity equity and inclusion and education, and just felt really that it was, this was my calling. Like God was really calling me to do this and I want, I always felt like I loved the influence I had in my own classroom, but man, what could I do if I could influence more than one classroom of students per year? And just knowing that, um, I could work with many teachers on this and really, um, get per like the parental community involved in that too. And, um, that’s what I get to do now. So I actually worked for the center for equity and inclusion and I’m a fellow there right now, but I get to work on their education team. And uh, we teach a course called the equity certificate that we get to train teachers for a full year long. And in that I also get to work with some pretty large districts here in the Portland area.

And, um, I do this work because I finally have the parental perspective to yes, when I was not a parent yet. And then I became a parent and I finally saw myself on the other side of that parent teacher conference table. Exactly the things that my parents were saying and feeling about, you know, basically their hearts that they were sending to school every day. And so I think that just gave me kind of a renewed perspective, but also that’s what drives my work now because I want to make my not only my own children’s experiences better at school because I’m X I’ve experienced some of the same things that my grandpa had to do with my dad. And then my dad had to do with me and that it’s not okay that doesn’t sit well with me. Uh, that 30 something years later, I’m still dealing with the same stuff that, you know, generations ago they had to deal with. And I don’t, if, if nothing else I want to make that easier on my children with their future. So that’s kind of my why behind the work is that not only am I trying to make it better for my kids that I had in my classroom, but now my biological kids. Yeah. I love that. And that’s exactly it. So today we’re going to talk about two areas that adoptive families often encounter within their school systems.

And I think this goes for everyone, for sure. Like these are great tips, whether you’re an adoptive parent or not, but this is specifically about advocating, um, for our children because of their race and the bias, um, and advocating also because a lot of kids that come home through AGCI have disabilities and unique needs. And, um, this is obviously a huge topic to cover and I don’t even think we can cover it in one podcast. I think we’re going to have to do this again, but I’d love for you to break down kind of both sides of this for us and help kind of just help us navigate how to do this well. So can you talk through, um, what some of the signs are that you may need to start stepping in to advocate for your child and, um, especially not all of our adoptive parents are white, but in the position of being a white parent, um, can advocacy advocacy ever create an adverse situation for your child? Um, like can you speak kind of to both of those things, like when do you need to start stepping in and, and what you may experience that are negative consequences of that, what that might look like? Yeah, for sure. I think that, um, especially if you, this may be your first child or this is your first adoptive child, right?

So whether it’s your first child and that if they’ve they’re the child that’s brought you into parenting, or if this is your first adoptive child and you’d have your biological children first who have gone through school first, um, I think in both of those experiences, you’re going to have your eyes opened a perspective that you haven’t had to experience before. And, um, the difficult and challenging piece of that is that your heightened awareness won’t come until you see things happen through your child, because you will have a very different lived experience than what they’re going through. So it’s hard to say, okay, I need to heighten my, my, my sensitivity, you know, um, when you’re not really sure what you’re supposed to be looking for. Um, I am friends with quite a few parents who are white and they have either fostered to adopt or adopted, um, both domestically and internationally. And I think a lot of them said that, you know, I thought I was prepared for parenting and in general parenting is hard and it’s just, you’re never really ready for it, but that, um, there were things that they never thought would be an issue as an adoptive parent. And I think one of the things that really resonated for me that one of my friends said to me was that, uh, she started to just question wait, was that racist? Wait, was that discrimination?

And I think even the fact that that starts to arise is you unconsciously becoming sensitive to these things. And that’s great. I think that’s a great internal realization of like, I also don’t want to guess like my own child and tell them this isn’t, but I’m starting to question all of these little things could be racist. These have things that are happening to my child could be a form of discrimination. And that’s because of the bias that their teacher may have towards them that I didn’t necessarily have to grow up with, but my child is experiencing in real time. So those are perhaps those moments inside that we want to think about. I need to advocate for my child because they don’t necessarily have the tools to know what to do yet or what to say. And we’re trying to empower them to be able to do that as they grow and as they learn to live in their skin that they’re in. Right. And, and making sure that they’re prepared for the things that they’re probably going to continue to experience variance. And it’s unfortunate that that’s the case, but we also want to make sure as a parent, we’re always trying to protect our, our children as much as possible. Right. So advocating for them, but also knowing that you can’t advocate for them forever, we have to prepare them. Yep. Yeah. And you have to talk about it with them, um, in that.

And some of that sometimes is talking through what they’re experiencing and, and helping them identify what’s going on as well. So I love that. You’re saying that. So even if you know, um, that there’s a strong chance that your child will one either have a disability or to, um, need a unique learning strategy. I mean, it can just all feel like too much. And like you were talking about like, whether you’re a first time parent or, um, this isn’t your, you know, first child that you’ve had, it can overwhelm you, we, because you’re learning something new. So what, um, first step would you suggest to someone, um, that they actually take, you know, as they start navigating this? Yeah. So I’m glad you brought up the disability thing because, um, studies and data show that, um, kids of color, especially black and brown kids tend to be, um, recommended for sped services, special education services, way more than any other race. Yeah. You told me that before this call and it just, it sh it’s embarrassing. That stuff continues to shock me as, you know, you peel the layers back, but I was genuinely shocked. So keep going, I’m sorry. I interrupted, but that just did my, and a little bit. Yeah. And that’s all driven by that root of bias. Right. And just thinking about, you know, how, uh, a child’s behavior presents to a teacher in some, in most cases, right.

Because 85% of our teaching force here in America is white. So, um, the white bias of, oh, is this behavior actually because this child has ADHD or is this behavior because they need special services for X, Y, and Z? Well, maybe not, maybe they’re not taking into consideration that like their bias is actually behind that, and this child may have some needs, but they may not be, um, needs from a disability. And maybe it’s a need that they feel a certain type of way about being othered in a classroom or being the only, perhaps the only child of class, uh, of color in that classroom. So, um, I think a lot of that is driven by the fact that like, um, our teaching force needs to kind of examine those biases too. But from the parental standpoint of like, what can you do first? Well, those are the moments when you can step in and start to not just like, have the internal questioning, but like say it out loud, those conversations with your students or your, um, your child’s teacher and say like, can you show me evidence of where this is happening? Or, um, when does that tend to happen? Because you are the parent of this child who spends way more hours with them and know them better than any of the teachers in that building are going to, right. And this is a collaborative trying to create relationship.

And I think a lot of times, um, teachers are also not, um, driven by creating that relationship right. There is this, there is a white supremacist idea of a teacher holds knowledge and that’s who we need to trust. And I fully put trust in my own child’s teachers, but at the same time, I know my child in a different way than their teachers with them. So first step is asking the questions, you’d say, like, um, asking the questions of like, Hey, where, where are you seeing this? And kind of checking that with, Hmm, does this align with who I know my child is? Or is this a little bit different? And could, could that be because of the environment of their classroom because of perhaps the way they’re talked to in their classroom? Um, or is there some, yeah, just to kind of unearth, like, is there something else going on here or does my child actually have a disability that we need to address? Because that, that is also obviously a possibility, but we want to make sure that we’re really looking at, um, your whole child and thinking, is this happening because of reasons, or is this actually happening because they do have a special need here. Yeah. Yeah. That’s interesting.

I think, I mean, with that knowledge of, you know, the percentage of how many kids, um, are misdiagnosed that you have to, to have that be your first step of like, okay, let’s, let’s analyze this. And, um, I’m going to take a look at it and think through it and, and that’s great to know, and kind of then where to move from there. So if you have, uh, you know, if you agree, or if it’s something that you’ve suspected, what’s the next step, do you think? So usually there’s this process kind of before an IEP, an IEP is an individualized education plan. That’s what your child would get. If they did actually, um, meet the requirements to get special education services. Um, but there’s all these steps before that happens, right. You actually have to, they do actually have to show documentation and, um, of formal assessment, informal assessment observations. Um, if this is something that would need to, um, for example, if it was like an ADHD concern where they’re like, I think, you know, they, they show certain symptoms, then there might be some testing involved, right. Or, um, if it’s dyslexia, there would obviously be some testing in. Um, so all of those things would happen before, um, an actual designation of special education would, um, be, would be placed on your child’s file.

And then if this actually were to get to the point where they have an individual education plan written for them, then at that, from that point on, um, every year there would be meetings like an entire team. So it would be, could be you’re the parent, typically a counselor school psychologist, the teacher, any like teacher aid that may be, is a contact with the child. Um, this whole team comes together. And that’s when you start to talk about, on an annual basis, like, what is your child showing? How, where are their improvements? Where are some places that the child needs to continue growing? Um, and that’s where it becomes something that is as a part of their, um, I hate to use this word, but they’re, they’re labeling at school. Right. That’s that, that follows them. Um, but also in on the positive side of that is that all their teachers, from that point on will know that like they have these needs and that, um, they need to differentiate their instruction for this child based on that. Hm that’s interesting. So what will you share for anyone that doesn’t know, what’s the difference between an IEP that you were just talking about? And then there’s also a 5 0 4. Um, I know, like I’ve seen those terms before and been like, okay, which one, which what is going on. So for a parent who’s never navigated this. What, what are those things? Yeah.

So, um, this is going to be a very general and probably, um, not great description, but we’re all learning. And we’re all like to think of, um, 5 0 4 plans as like IEP. Like if you will only be typically with, if you don’t qualify for sped services, um, and you don’t get to that, that level of having to have an IEP written, then you do have the option to request a 5 0 4 plan for your child. Um, that means you and their teacher and, you know, everyone who’s been in this community of trying to figure out what is going on here, have all determined that like, okay, this child doesn’t qualify for an IEP, but perhaps some accommodations could still be helpful. Right. Um, they clearly something is happening here that we still need to bolster up this kid with to help them grow. And so that 5 0 4 plan exists for any other accommodations that they’ll need. And it’s same thing. If that 5 0 4 plan will follow them. Um, so the most common 5 0 4, uh, thing that I see is for testing. And a lot of this is typically because the kiddo doesn’t do great with time constraints and my own child has that. Um, or, um, they may need a more quiet environment to, in order to work on testing. Um, and so, uh, this child might, may be able to step out and work in the library when they do testing.

Or if, um, there are times when they really need to focus in, on a project, they have the option to have the accommodation, to work with a person one-on-one outside of the classroom, or they may have, um, just extra ways for them to be able to, um, focus better in a way that like doesn’t require an annual review, right. It’s just that they need in certain moments or certain projects or certain, you know, assessments they may be taking. Um, and so it’s still accommodating to that child’s needs, but it’s not to the point where data driven, they do qualify based on the fact that they have a specific disability that requires, um, any kind of annual review. Okay. That makes sense. And a 5 0 4 follows them through college. Doesn’t it? I believe so. Yeah. That’s very similar in the way that it follows that. Okay. That’s great. And, and an IEP is, you know, a little bit deeper. It goes a little bit deeper than that then. Yes, that’s for sure. Okay. That’s more of like a team behind it. Typically a 5 0 4 is more just you and the teacher communicating on. Oh, that makes sense. That’s great.

Um, so we’re backing up just a hair here, but, um, if someone suspects, if you’ve maybe talked to a teacher or they expressed concerns about your child and you don’t agree with them, and you suspect that maybe your child is actually experiencing, um, racial bias, what should a parent do at that point? What’s the best? What are those steps that they should be taking? Yeah. Um, I would say the steps are very similar still trying to create that relationship with the teacher. And I say that again, because teachers are not taught nor are they conditioned to create relationships with their families. They’re called parent teacher conferences. I don’t like that term. Yeah. That’s interesting. Yeah. They should be family conferences, a taking into account that not everybody has a parent coming to their economy. Right. But really we’re thinking about who is this child in terms of their family. And so I say that because, um, I think as parents, we have to advocate for that relationship because it’s not a norm for teachers to do it. I’m not excusing the fact that, you know, they’re very busy people and they obviously are managing more than one. So maybe that’s not front of mind for them. I, I used to be in the classroom. It definitely wasn’t front of mind for me.

Um, but because your child is always going to be front of mind for you as a parent, that’s kind of your, your in to be able to like push for that relationship. And, um, I had, uh, I had a case where my own child was, um, I questioned whether or not something was racially driven and it was pretty clear that it, it was, um, and I, I say that, and that’s for my own biological child who looks like me. And, um, I had the very same lived experience. So it was, it was a triggering moment for me. Um, and I had a heightened awareness of it, but I definitely had to kind of check the teacher in that moment and just say, um, so I’ll, I’ll just give some detail around this Allegion and understand the context, but the child had, uh, my child’s teacher had questioned, and this was only a couple months into school, whether or not, um, he needed ELL English language, learner, ELL services, um, because he spoke a different language at home. Now, mind you, I had already checked that he didn’t need those services. I had refused the services because I am a native English speaker. My husband is a native English speaker. I understand what ELL services are. I knew my child did not need it. She has preschool didn’t even know he spoke a different language.

They were so confused when I, like I said, I had a heightened awareness of it. So I entered it knowing he would possibly possibly be flagged for this. And so she, um, he was a little bit behind in reading and writing. And so she said, I just wonder if, you know, um, he could benefit from some ELL services and right. Big trigger point for me, had to take, uh, quite a few big breaths to be able to, you know, enter into this conversation with her. And I said, well, you know, I gave her all the background, the context of her family, why he wasn’t in it since kindergarten. And I said, I would just, I’d be curious. Do you think he is just a low reader, which is very possible, or do you think his low reading and writing, um, scores are due to the fact that he speaks another language at home? I wanted to see if she could differentiate between the two. Um, and she said, well, there’s no telling, but, um, I think that he could definitely benefit from some services. And I think that like ELL would serve those purposes the best. And so at this point, I, I wasn’t, she wasn’t examining the bias there. And I had not told her that he spoke another language at home. She was somehow able to squeeze that information out of him. Um, okay. Right.

So, so that’s, that’s where you’re questioning is this racism is this discrimination because she didn’t find it written anywhere. Um, but I had two choices at that moment. I could either have my test, my child tested, gone through all that because that’s what the teacher recommended, or I could just deny the, the, uh, the testing and perhaps not get help for my child because I’m not, I wasn’t trying to be prideful in, like my child doesn’t need help. I recognize that he needed help. I just wasn’t sure that that was the avenue he needed to get his help through. And that was the cause if he was reading it at a lower level, that that was the cause of it, that he spoke two languages, the appropriate help, wherever we’re going to let the problems and get the appropriate help. So, um, I knew that I wanted to get him help. And really sometimes you have to walk through the puddle to be able to like, get what, what you ultimately, the goal is. Right. And I was like, I’m going to just have to step in this puddle. There’s no way around it. And in that, I kind of wanted just going to be completely honest. It’s like kind of wanting to like drop it and say that, like I wanted to prove that this was not, um, language.

So I said, okay, know what, um, let’s have him take the test, but before I haven’t take the test, I want this question answered. I like to know if he takes the test and he passes, um, what will, what will we do then? Where will we go at this at that point? Yes. Because we can’t get him help through ELL. Then I said, now, obviously if he doesn’t pass, he would get help through DLL. I’ve paid my taxes. I I’ve paid for yes. For those services. Yeah, sure. I’ll take it. Um, and she said, well, at this point, and also the ELL teacher was sitting with us. She said at this point, I don’t think, I think that he’ll qualify. Oh, really? Okay. So again, when you’re asking these questions, like, listen for the answer from the teacher or teachers in this case, and try to hear like, again, is there bias in this? Are they even trying to hear, um, what they may be entering to this way? And again, that answer gave me exactly what I need to confirm is that I don’t think they’re seeing that there’s bias in this and that this is, um, potentially a sign of, of racism here. Right. Nation here.

I think it’s great to note too, as you’re telling this story that never did you go after them with that phrasing, you didn’t say, I think you’re racially biased and that this is, you know, you were trying to take the appropriate steps, even though this was triggering too, like you said, just, you knew you had to go through the puddle to like get to the other side. So you’re going to buckle down. But, um, you were asking questions, which I think is such a healthy, um, perspective to take and something. That’s great asking questions to find out what you needed to know, even though I think probably your hunch was correct at the beginning, but these, I love that those are the steps that you take took. And, um, so what happened next? Because I think the more you ask questions, the more you have a chance to make that person think about why they made this decision to, um, so she told us to test pass with flying colors as I suspected. And, uh, it did not get yellow services, which great. That’s not what I wanted him to get anyways. But at that point I just told the teacher, I said, well, I guess it looks like you’ll have to be the one to help him get up to reading grade level and writing grade level.

Because I think to a certain extent she just wanted, um, to get external help there when really like she’s responsible for that. And, um, that’s another piece of the bias, right? Is that sometimes I think when a teacher sees that, um, a child of, you know, especially if it’s a child of color, if that bias is there, they may think like, oh, it’s going to be a difficult child or this is going to cause I’ve seen it happen. You know? And, and, and so to a certain extent, they just don’t even want to deal with it. So it’s like this passing off and putting kids in sped can sometimes be a passing off, like here, this is for a job now, you know, or this is your responsibility and I’m not trying to make teachers sound bad. I was one of them, you know, I work with them. I love them. It’s just that it exists sometimes that exists. And I think sometimes they’re not aware of that. Yeah. Because, you know, as a teacher, yes, you have a lot on your plate. So sometimes you kind of want someone else to like, Hey, can you help me with this? And I get it. But in this case it was one of those where I just, I said, exactly how I felt. And I said, well, it looks like you’ll be the one helping him come up to grade level.

And obviously I was doing my part as a parent, but like one of her to see that, like you have responsibility here and you are going to be held accountable by me. Um, in knowing that, you know, I’ve given you the hard data now it’s, he’s pat asked. And that is not the reason that he’s, he’s behind in reading. Well, and I think that’s huge to even what you just said about the hard data. It’s like, okay, I’ve, I’ve done my part of this. Um, so that’s another thing for people. If they have questions, you can go to your pediatrician, you can go to a behavioral specialist, you can, there are things that you can do to back yourself up or find out, oh, indeed, there is something else going on, which is okay, but you’re, you’re on the same hunt for the facts that, that they are. And that’s part of advocating for your child as well. You know that, um, but you, yeah, you were able to do that. You knew you had to go through the puddle, you, that was, that’s another form of advocacy so that it wasn’t on your son’s shoulders to deal with that in class. So what are some examples of how, um, you can be ready to parent a racially different child and how, um, like I just mentioned, how can we take that weight off of our kids’ shoulders?

Because like you said, we do have to teach them how to advocate for themselves, but there is a huge part of that. Like we always tell our kids, all of our kids, um, like we’re on your team. Like, we are your backup. Like we’re here for you. And sometimes when they’re younger, that means that you are going ahead of them. So how does that look? How do we take that, that weight off? Yeah. I think especially when they’re younger, because we can’t expect that they’re going to go, no, they don’t have the words to even express their own emotions to us sometimes. And that’s where like decoding as a parent, the treatment, try to figure out what’s going on with them. So, yes, I think even more so when they’re younger that you have, you have to be the one to advocate because we just can’t, we can’t put that kind of weight on them when they’re that little, um, I think one of the biggest things is empowering them in a way that for them is unconscious. So looking at your spirit influence, who are the people that your family is, um, surrounded by? Do they see themselves reflected in, I mean, I know this is more of a concrete thing that you can do, but like, um, and I hear lots of people talking about like windows and mirrors.

I’m sure some of you have heard this term, but like looking for books and media and so forth, like as much of the, the, um, the things that you actually give to your child, um, and are in your home that reflect them. Right. And I was just laughing with a friend a couple of days ago about how I, I was trying to look for a new nativity set because I’m like, you know, we’re accurate one. Yes, very difficult. A lot of work, find things that, and I feel like, especially for, um, in literacy, it’s getting a little bit easier and there’s definitely more BiPAP authors, BiPAP illustrators, and I’m finding that that is easier. So I would just try to bring as much as that as I can into my own. Um, but those are all going to be unconscious to your child, right. This is just the environment we’re trying to create for them so that they don’t feel othered even in their own home. And then like, who is their pediatrician? What does their pediatrician look like? Do they, do they have the same skin color as your child? Um, and in that, as we talked about bias earlier, will they be able to, um, diagnose your child, you know, knowing those cultural and like racial things that can exist, um, that perhaps, um, a white doctor would not see it right. Or be aware of.

And so even looking at things like, um, do I have friends, like, do I have friends that I invite over for, you know, summer barbecue is that look like my child and not to say that we should in a very inauthentic way, find friends who look like our child’s just so they have that really, you should be entering into those kinds of relationships in an authentic way, because not only are they there just visibly for your child, but for you to culturally learn something that like they experienced, that you can’t give to your child because of your own lived experience. I didn’t reflect that. So I think those are things that, um, especially as they’re young, they can feel around them, but they don’t know how to name yet. As, as they get older will start to be able to name like, oh, that’s why I felt a certain way. Or that’s why, um, I felt okay saying that because I saw so-and-so saying that, or I, you know, things like, I think about my own journey in entering to education and wondering like, why were there so few teachers of color? And they realized that in talking to many teachers of colors is what I researched actually is that we didn’t see ourselves. So we never saw that. That was a possibility for us. Wow. Right. Like I never thought I could be a teacher because teachers didn’t look like you. Right.

But, and I didn’t even realize and have that reflection until I became a teacher and I was teaching in Southeast Portland and it was this like, apifany moment. I knew I always loved teaching, but I didn’t have that like internal, like what was the seed? And a lot of my students in Southeast Portland were, were Chinese and they would come to me and say things like, Missy, can you, can you talk to my dad about that? And I know that there was just this like, oh, cause you know that I get it. Yep. You know that I had your experience and like, you have a disconnect with your own parents because in those cases, a lot of times it was like an immigrant experience, but you know, first generation here experience, like, I know I don’t want to do that, but can you, can you talk to, you know, and that was when it clicked for me, I was like, this, this is why we need teachers who reflect what the student population looks like. Yep. Because they need to be able to see themselves and have advocate in seeing themselves there, you know? Yeah. That’s powerful. And that’s, I mean, that’s exactly it.

That’s what people have been talking about for years of like seeing themselves and things, when you were talking, it made me think just today I saw something on Instagram that there’s, uh, someone redrawing, like, um, like medical pictures and medical books to see people of color, um, like represented. Like, and it it’s just those moments where I was like, oh yeah, like you never see like a black mom and a black, um, you know, child drawn like in medical books or in anything. So even just those ways that, you know, you just noticed like the world around you and when, when I’m just a white person that you know is going along, I didn’t think of it. And I’m more aware of it now, but it’s just those pieces. And I love that. You’re saying to surround yourself with, um, with people that look like your child, because it is so important, they do offer you a different look at things at different, take an explanation of why all, you know, all of these things and they offer your child without them realizing it or needing that they offer your child that too. And, um, I think that’s so huge just for all of us to hear and be intentional about, and not in a fake way, but intentionally developing relationships.

I think as adults, we’re all guilty of like, you know, when you’re in school, you’re, you become more, especially when you go to college, you become outward facing, you want to meet people and know people. And then you kind of like, as an adult, you hunker down, you’re raising your kids. You’re, you’re trying. And, and we need to go back to that piece of ourselves to go back to building relationships and, um, being open to that. That’s all that means it’s not like a fake friendship with someone, but just being open to developing, to talking to people, um, talking to parents at school, talking at games, talking to people that look different from you. That’s just something we should all be doing no matter what, and, and hearing different opinions and perspective it is that you would have never seen before. And I just remember like one of my best friends, she, she and I have known each other since sixth grade. She said to me that it was life changing when, um, we were together in high school, we went to like taco bell or something. But the very first time she experienced racism through me, like seeing me experience it. And she’s like, I had never even, even considered that. That is what you go through because she was so shocked that I kind of just brushed it off. And she was like, that’s not okay.

And I’m like, no, it happens so often that this is not worth it. And she’s like, what for you? Like, this is not right. That happens so frequently, frequently, you know, and your child is going to experience those things. And you’re probably going to have a moment where you’re like, Ooh, oh yeah, for sure. You’re most likely going to have lots of moments. Just a heads up. Yeah. That’s true. Yeah. To be, yeah. Just to have how someone else tell you, Hey, this happens all the time or, Hey, this is how it is. And, and just being there to listen and learn from that and saying, I had no idea I’m going to do better because now that I know what to do better for my child, now that I know this is probably something built experience going to experience. Yeah. If they haven’t already and just not even shared it with you, they’re going to, so yeah, exactly. So what resources are out there to help navigate, navigate? I can’t even talk Sarah navigate what our children’s rights are when it, to their education. Yeah. So LSPI, for those of you living here in Washington state LSPI is a great resource for exactly what the law says, right? It’s, it’s where, um, they lay out, especially they’re there in the past couple of years, their equity, um, piece of their website has become, um, a really great resource because they actually offer it.

And I want to say, it’s, I think it’s monthly. They have these equity sessions and each month they do a different topic. Um, so that’s a great resource to be able to even watch like past ones and things that really, um, how I think, I remember watching one that was about, um, how indigenous communities, even just like the labeling of what their race is, um, is, is very defining within their community. Um, whether it’s a native American or American Indian, like there’s distinctions. So things like that, that, um, I think are not really brought into the general space. They ha they’re having really great conversations in that. And then of course, you know, anything related to special education, it’s all laid out there so that you can see exactly, um, what is required once they do have an IEP. Um, I’m sure every school district, or I’m sorry, uh, state, uh, so for example, in Oregon, it’s TSPC, um, every state’s like basically the resource that teachers go to, to go get their license. So that website is always going to provide you with like the state’s resources and laws and everything that’s like, and if they were Googling something, like if they live in another state, you didn’t reference, what would you have them Google? I think, um, a lot of times it’s easiest just to say like state teacher licensure, and then look on whatever that link is.

It’ll take you to like their states, um, oh. Was version of OSB. Okay. That’s great. No, that’s huge. And then you can kind of take a look and see what you’re dealing with statewide and what options are out there. And I love at least for OSBI, that they have videos that you can be watching and kind of catch yourself up on things, because that can feel the most overwhelming you, you Google something and you’re like hit with so many resources or blogs or whatever, but to know exactly for your states, what options you have. I think that’s huge and they’re all different. It’s, it’s completely different stuff. So much like legal jargon involves in that too. But, you know, I, I used to work in ed tech where, um, uh, I dealt with like alternative learning schools and things like that, that you just, you can’t know all of these things off the top. Like there’s no way. So, um, especially with how detailed things are and how much they change and so forth. So I think your best resources to look at like your state’s education department, um, for exactly what is going to be provided and then also what their rights are. That’s huge. Yeah. That’s great. Well, I’m gonna wrap us up here. I feel like we have a whole nother podcast in the works because this is such a huge topic.

And I know a lot of, um, families that listen to this podcast are going through these things right now. And I so appreciate you being willing to come on and share even your personal story, what you experienced yourself as a child, what your family experience, what your son experienced and, um, and just your expertise in that, this is what you do and what you’ve studied. And, um, I think there’s something affirming in that just knowing, um, that people aren’t crazy or that they’re not that they need to trust their gut, especially parents. I think my biggest learning as a parent, as my kids have aged is like exactly what you said, you know, your child the best. Um, if you have a sneaky suspicion that something’s off, like follow that trail, ask those questions. And I so appreciate even that you just put that out there because I think it gives people permission to do that if they’re questioning themselves. So thank you. Thank you for having me. It’s important to question those things because why are we questioning those things? Is it because I do buy into the idea that only the teacher holds the knowledge that’s not true. You just hold a different type of knowledge as a parent, and that’s a huge piece of who your child is. Yeah. And turning your ch your child’s teacher into an advocate to you.

You know, that’s something that you have the power to, to start moving in to that realm of things for them. Most of the time, I think not every time. I think sometimes it’s just not going to be a great relationship, but hopefully, you know, giving teachers the benefit of the doubt. And I think teachers really, most teachers out there are trying to do that. And we’ve experienced, you know, at different levels, like some differences there, but, you know, I think giving everybody the benefit of the doubt and then helping them be Kevin advocate for your child and building that family, family relationship, instead of, um, you know, just having, I love that the parent teacher conference thing, that this is a family conference, not a network, we’re all a part of this. So thank you, Sarah. I so appreciate you. Wow. Um, I’m glad we got a chance to talk and, uh, I hope we get to talk some more about this, because like you said, it’s, there’s so much, there’s so much going on. Yeah. If you’re teaching a year long teacher course, then we’ve got a lot, a lot further to go, but I think this is a great start.

I hope that you enjoyed hearing from Dr. Sarah Yee and that you got as much out of that as I did. I definitely think that we’re going to need to invite her back and do a follow-up podcast as we really just touched the surface.

Thank you so much for listening to Together by AGCI. If you liked what you heard, please make sure to follow us and rate us wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also follow us on Instagram at @allgodschildren or head to our website for more information on all the work that we do at I look forward to learning more and sharing stories of hope the next time we’re together.