Where’s the love? | AspenTimes.com

Where’s the love?

Editors Note: This letter was originally addressed to the Roaring Fork School District Re-1 Board of Education.

Dear Editor:

We all have heard Mohandas Gandhi’s quote “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” And, who among us has not said that education is the key to change. But without compassion in our system of education, can we change it?

My family and I would like to express our deep thanks and appreciation to Brad Ray and Troy Lange for the professionalism, sensitivity and open-mindedness with which they undertook the marathon of the Grievance we recently filed. The Corrective Action Plan they will set forth May 18 is well thought out and comprehensive. They took the issues presented and have found proactive ways to address some very real problems. They could have chosen to hide behind limited legal interpretations but instead they approached the concerns with compassion and an eye for necessary change for the entire school district.

We, the Sakin Family, made a decision that in order for our daughter to have what she needs from a school we needed to take on a battle. We had spent our first 18 months living here in the Roaring Fork Valley trying to be conciliatory with little to no affect. Our grievances were not made lightly. We understood that the end results more than likely would not gain us or our daughter any friends. Rather, we hoped that we could make system-wide impact for many children whose families might not understand the need for advocacy or be in a position to find and hire an attorney. If fully followed, The Corrective Action Plan presented this evening will move our school district ahead in providing for many children with and without special needs. We are proud to have helped produce this result!

However, as Atticus Finch said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.” What the Corrective Action Plan cannot provide is helping our educators and community stand in the shoes of those who face daily struggles, in this case, our daughter Arden’s. She struggles with multiple disabilities, learning and physical, all the while confronting chronic and debilitating health issues. Many days to get out of bed takes Herculean qualities. If you truly read the Grievances filed you will understand that even Hercules could not have overcome the persistent small acts of inhumanity. Arden has been confronted with authority figures that are perhaps only experiencing the difficulties of their own workload, the frustration of morning traffic and the constraints of limited budgets. The random acts of kindness have been few and far between. In over 50 weeks of driving Arden to school every day I have seen a door held open or an offer to help her with her backpack perhaps a handful of times; I have heard from only one teacher and one principal that they admire her strength; I have seen countless weekend plans canceled at the last minute, and in the past few months there has not been a single phone call from a peer for anything more than information about a homework assignment. I have had Arden show me all the pictures of everyone at the prom and wonder, would she ever get asked? I have held her hand and rubbed her back countless times while she has wept herself to sleep. In the past 18 months we have undertaken the assistance of therapists, life coaches, made several emergency runs to Children’s Hospital in Denver due to stress related illness. There has not been a single call from any individual at her school offering to come cheer her up, ask her to dinner or stopped by with lasagna. Where is the community? Where is the care? What are we teaching our children if we are not exhibiting these random acts of kindness? Who will be our future leaders and will anyone want to live in a valley purely for the beauty of the mountains when the humanity is so unattractive?

This is why we filed these Grievances and these are the changes we want to see – acceptance and inclusion not a strict reading of today’s law; compassion and humanity not competition for shrinking budgets. Your complete support of these Corrective Actions and commitment to involvement in the ongoing implementation can make a difference for our children!

He drew a circle that shut me out

Heretic, rebel a thing to flout.

But love and I had wit to win:

WE drew a circle that took him in.

-Edwin Markham

Our sincerest thanks for your complete consideration,

The Sakin Family


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