my project4peace

Homeschooling in the Desert with Intention and Hope and Special Needs

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Get involved, get informed and be heard.

Keep your eye on what's going on, and don't be afraid to speak up to support children.

Keep your eye on what’s going on, and don’t be afraid to speak up to support children.

I copied a bit from our ESA gmail group to save here for reference.  It’s important that we stay informed and we make ourselves heard if we want to continue to use state educational funds to continue educating children with special needs at home with some freedom to use systematic, scaffolded or scientifically based, innovative, or unique but affective approaches to learning that are not offered in some public or private settings but are successful for our kids. Sometimes the available classroom approach to learning is not the best fit for your child. This is a complex program and requires us to pay attention to the agenda of some that are involved so that it will truly serve children in need and not the just the best interest of those that are busy just serving themselves on the backs of the most vulnerable.

Lisa reminded us of the advice of another ESA member Call your elected reps and let them know. In my case they never vote how I want them too so I suggest this and I am plagiarizing from Staci’s post back in January. She is right and we should all do this. It’s the process for being heard and staying on top of the issue. By the time we organize it’s voted on and done. Laws can happen pretty fast. “Another alternative is to go to the Capitol (ASAP) and get an ALIS account (must be done in person). Access to an ALIS account will allow you to log support or opposition for a bill and the legislators voting on any bill can see how much citizen support or opposition is there. It is helpful. You can also watch the bill hearings from work or home on the video live feed and send comments via ALIS along with support or opposition.” -Staci

So that is what i am going to do. We can all keep a look out for the latest happenings by going to WWW.AZLEG.GOV look up on the little window on the upper left hand side of the sight and type in the bill HB2530 and it will take you too the bill information. Who sponsors, when it is scheduled, what committee it is in. Everything but who wrote it and what lobbyist group is pushing for it and why.
I have a feeling it will be over fast.

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2012 ESA Webinar-my personal notes

The following are my personal notes from the ESA Webinar held on July 26th by Aiden Fleming from the Arizona Deptartment of Education.

  • ESA members are responsible for the education of their child
  • ESA members are responsible for the administration and record keeping of all purchases, obtaining certifications from professionals, turning in Expenditure reports on times indicated on the ESA  website –

ESA funds can be used for :
Tuition – private school, University, college, public or charter school classes, summer school class or other classes (may require special arrangement between you and the school for payment – they must require payment) swimming, karate, etc may be listed as tuition.
Curriculum– as defined on the ESA Website –
You may purchase whole curriculum, or subject curriculum. Curriculum may be sold in kit form with needed materials included in the kit.  For single items purchased separately think “single use” only.  It sounded like they would prefer if materials were included in the curriculum kit, or bundle. If materials or teaching guides are part of the bundle, that’s accepted. No hardware, or consumables or field trips may be purchased.  Buying software is okay.  Buying from educational companies is preferred and may be easier due to the coding switches on the card. If an educational company denies the card you can fill out a form at the ESA website: to submit site for approval. You may purchase more than one curriculum per subject.  You may purchase books from reading lists called for by the curriculum (Be sure to make copies of any “required lists).  If in doubt call or email for verification. You may NOT order from EBAY or Craigslist, and apps from itunes can not yet be purchased.  It was suggested to check other Educational type sites to purchase apps at this time.
*Payments can be made by Paypal or Swipe or online.
Tutoring– Tutors or the Center they work for must have National or Regional certifications as indicated on the ESA Website –
Educational therapies – (not Medical) Speech, OT, Vision, Behavioral, aquatic, equestrian, etc…  Certifications are required. You may pay for as many or as much therapy with your funds as you deem necessary. Using funds for copay for these therapies may be okay.
Non approved expenditures will be removed from future disbursements. (Gross misuse of funds will be reported to the Attorney Generals Office for investigation).
ParaPros – These individuals need to have the certifications as listed on the ESA website –, and must be paid by swipe or paypal.
Renewal of IEP (not MET- this is still the responsibility of your district school)- the expense for the IEP may be paid for with ESA funds.
Expenditure Reports All expense reports must have

  1. REPORT FORM itemized and filled out (found on ESA website – to print)
  3. ESA CARD BANK STATEMENT (To verify money removed)
  • INCLUDE – COPIES OF CURRICULUM LISTS (copies of ex. reading lists or approved material lists)
  • TURN IN ON TIME BY 5pm on the dates listed on the
  • Receipts MUST be clear not smudged or faded (keep copies for yourself of documents turned in)
  • Turn in early enough that if there are corrections to be made you can make them before the deadline and still receive your next disbursement on time.

If you miss the deadline your disbursement will not be available at it’s designated time. If you are more than 30 days late you may be removed from the program. IF NO MONEY WAS SPENT SUBMIT REPORT ANYWAY.
Other bits of information that were discussed:
There are currently 300 enrolled everyone will be audited do not let that worry you if you get a call. Non approved expenditures will be removed from future disbursements as long as it is not a gross misuse of funds

  • Your MET must be up to date to renew enrollment (your home district or private school district is responsible to  evaluate be sure to send a letter requesting re-evaluation for MET update, to start the 60 day compliance requirement.  Call ESA if there is a problem with refusal, you may have to go through due process if refusal continues.

Transition plans – If IEP indicates a need till 22 yrs old ESA funding will continue, but if not indicated funding will stop at 12th grade. Note: I’m personally a little confused about this 12th grade issue and need more clarification myself on Transitional phase.  I do know that Aiden said that it must be indicated on the IEP that services are needed until 22 years of age.
DDD is not a conflict with funds received through ESA and would not affect services there.
Application for Enrollment is currently once a year (at designated time) but it was indicated that it may change in the future years.

Money that is still in your account rolls over each quarter as long as you are enrolled.  Money can be moved into 529 account for Community College or University for the previously enrolled child to be spent on their college courses.  Money can not be removed by the State after it is in the 529. Moneys that are in your account will not be touched for 4 years after child in no longer in program (12th Grade).
Program was recently expanded to include Military children, those attending D or F graded schools, Foster Care or Adopted children that were previously wards of the state. Children without  primary  (as listed on Funding Chart available on the ESA Website could receive $3200-$3700 per year (dispersed quarterly) when enrolled.
ESA phone number 602-364-1969 If in doubt call or email with questions, AZ ESA website-
I hope this is helpful to anyone that visits my blog.  If you notice mistakes please email corrections to me or leave it in the comments.  This information is strictly from my personal notes and is not a copy of what was presented.

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School choice program expands –

Today Dylan and I and his Dad met with a few fellow ESA members to discuss homeschooling options, and find out how others were building curriculum, and using the ESA funds.  It was wonderful to meet others that were beginning this process.  We left today feeling a little less alone, and in fact in good company.  I am looking forward to connecting again and hope to meet others as well.  When we got home Dylan thanked me for including him, and I realize that from now on he is included in everything.  This is his journey, I’m just a part.  Though, I see this adventure of homeschooling as my journey right now, I realize that really it is his.  It will be a blip in his memory one day, I hope a good one.

We talked about purchasing curriculum and there is still some question about the details.  It appears that we may be able to purchase materials that are required by the curriculum, however I’m not totally clear if this is so.  I will post more as it is clarified.

We also talked about some concerns regarding the expansion to the ESA program, that will go into effect this next year.  I found an article that addresses some of the concerns and have posted it below.

Dawn from the Civitan center shared the services that Civitan has to offer (especially a very nice music studio with drum set and instruments) and her willingness to create programs that would be of service to us.  She spoke a little bit about the away camp in Williams, in the pines which one parent who had been to visit talked about how beautiful it was.  Their programs would all take ESA funds.

Mostly I left our gathering with  a deep appreciation for the resolve and commitment that was evident in the room and an awareness that I had much to learn.

At home Dylan is back to work aimed at finishing his daily work.  Right now he earns TV time when work is completed and chores are done.  He chose to toss the ball a bit before hand to get going.  This really helps him organize himself to read.  I hope we will be able to start therapy at the Midwestern University Eye Clinic again, as well as Speech and OT.  Almost made it to our 1st speech lesson, but instead ended in the ER with DH.  Remember if you ever get a piece of meat stuck in your esophagus, try the grocery store for the remedy first.  I fear the cost of the 3 cans of Coke and 2 Saltines that provided the long awaited relief at the nearby hospital.  I wish I had hit the vending machines before he recieved the pretty bracelet with his name on it.  Grateful, it wasn’t anything else but did wonder for a moment if I could give him a better reason to stay for treatment.

School choice program expands –

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Montessori is Special Education


I wonder what encouragement I will find in the pages of this book?

This his book was written so many years ago, yet in Montessori Schools today Children with Special Needs seem to be limited to very high functioning children, with few behavior challenges.  It seems to me that as a teacher the question of the other children getting what they needed is always present, am I serving everyone?  Is it out of balance.  But yet at the same time I grapple with my belief that communities include everyone.  How do we learn to be whole citizens in this community if we do not learn how to engage with, have time for and include all members of the community.  How can this not be part of our schools?  Is it what we value? Is it how we have chosen to define successful individuals that gets in our way.

A decision to see a person as whole, and deserving of our kindness and respect, to see their greatness requires us to have a new understanding of what it is to be human.  What it is to be of service. To let go of old ways.  Haven’t we done this before?  Isn’t this basic misunderstanding at the root so much disparity in the world are we really a better nation because “more” people have an opportunity.  Can’t we really shift our perception enough that all people have opportunity to be accepted in a community.  Can’t we make it just as shameful, and unacceptable that our space whatever it is was not designed to include all individuals.  Can’t we stretch our greatness to recognize what’s missing when individuals with various disabilities are missing from the room.  Seeking diverse communities has always made us a greater nation, a greater community, a greater school, a greater group.  What needs to happen?  Often it seems when great change must take place it is the mistaken goal or model that needs to be restructured.  Greatness comes from our ability to see beyond our current circumstances to a possibility that exceeds those constraints, (something our most vulnerable do on a daily basis). A nation of greatness must see the greatness in each other, by the wholeness of it’s individuals.  We make others vulnerable when we create a world in which the value is determined by others.  One’s vulnerability is proportionate to the constructs of the society in which it lives.  What kind of society, what kind of being do we wish to construct.

When all else is gone, what will bring us the most joy?  How can we remember, as we seek to “pay for our lives”, that joy exists in the ability to be ourselves, be loved, and be able to serve and love others, and seek that, that builds us in our own vision. Isn’t this what Montessori saw?  It costs nothing to be kind, to be patient, to be giving, to be compassionate, to have empathy. We have become a nation that everything has a price tag. It is costing us our humanness and our potential greatness.  It is an invisible force that has altered the nature of all things.  What we lack in money is always made up for in the richness of our joy in each other.  If we shifted our success meter to exist in the richness of our community, the level of service, compassion, joy  it would have to include everyone, and it could build a community of individuals that care for each other, are empowered and enriched and nourished by each other.  Special would just be an important element in the mix.   It is an important part of the mix.  The fact that it is missing, and it’s members absent from the community on the whole, our community is disable, lacks the very elements that would exist if these members were wholly a part. It is something we hide from, don’t want to know about, fantasize that all is well with, so we can live in this illusion of success.

I believe that a transformation of this kind is happening all around us.  Like waiting for a bud to bloom, or an egg to hatch, or a child to have that “aha” moment, we will unfold this possibility.  The seeds have already been planted the ground has been made fertile, and now we just nourish, encourage tirelessly, invite, and trust in its inevitability.  This I say as I deal with my own impatience, perceptions, and abilities with still the hope of practicing in good faith that that I believe in.  If I don’t stay compassionate with myself, I might just give up, however. It’s a new day, patience arrived as always at my bedside and so here I am again, and in the company of so many I trust. Good company it is.