On a daily basis, we work as an advocacy resource to assist parents of children who have bipolar disorder (and sometimes children with other disabilities and special needs) by providing them with the information they need to help their children be successful in school and effectively resolve any issues. Normally, these issues are resolved successfully at the local level.

Recently, we encountered an issue that we felt was potentially dangerous to a number of special needs students. We attempted to resolve this at the local level and had four people working with us to find an effective solution. We were unsuccessful and had to look for assistance beyond the local level.

Beyond the local level, we contacted Montana’s senators, governor and the state Department of Education. To the best of our knowledge, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and his office were the only ones to respond to this issue. Not only did Baucus respond to this issue, but he did so in a very timely manner.

On the same day Baucus made inquiries on behalf of the children involved to correct the issue, the local school district had a change of heart. They were now willing to resolve the issue and immediate steps were taken to implement an effective solution. With the struggling economy, every penny saved is important. Sometimes we don’t realize the impact or possible risk that a change might make.

While we continuously state that we do not consider ourselves to be Democrat, Republican, liberal or conservative, and normally do not endorse any political candidate, we must say that we were pleasantly surprised by Baucus. We learned that Baucus scores a 91 percent in public education issues by the National Education Association, the nation’s leading organization committed to advancing the cause of quality public education. We personally reviewed Baucus’ voting record on education and learned the following:

• Voted yes on additional funds for federal education.

• Voted yes for grants to local education agencies and Title I programs.

• Voted yes on funding to reduce class sizes.

• Voted yes to approve national education standards.

• Supported the renewal of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

• Fought for additional funding for IDEA grants to states to help them meet the federal mandate of providing for the education of students with disabilities.

On Baucus’s website he states, “I believe that every child, no matter of their background or learning ability has the right to a quality education.” This sentiment lines up perfectly with our goals and beliefs. When Baucus recently made his inquiries on behalf of the children involved, we saw just how important he believes the right of all children to receive a quality education is and what an effective advocate he can be for our children and their education.

We would like to express thanks on behalf of the children and parents we work with to Baucus for not only taking the time to look into this issue, but working so quickly to ensure that an effective solution was immediately implemented.

With so much negativity surrounding issues with mental health illnesses, it was a very pleasant surprise for us to be able to share an article about a situation that has such a positive outcome.

Kelly Hartigan of Kalispell is director of www.bipolarchildsupport.com.

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