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Welcome to this virtual Teach In on the subject of Vocational Rehabilitation and Interagency Agreements. Our mission is to provide an opportunity for interested professionals to learn more about the development of interagency agreements between your state Vocational Rehabilitation agency and other statewide entities, including (and especially!) higher education. Such agreements are a requirement of the recent reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act (as part of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998), but their development and implementation is both sporadic and erratic across the United States.
Recognizing that the higher education community NEEDS to be more informed and aware in order to act appropriately in pursuing equitable resolution, the following goals have been identified for our Teach In:
1. To inform
2. To discuss/share
3. To publicize
4. To encourage action
There is only one requirement for your personal involvement in this Teach In…
You must be prepared to THINK!
No one else can think for you about how all this relates to your institution, your situation. If you are going to take the time to be involved in this activity and to monitor the progress of the discussions within our virtual community, then we encourage you to make the most of it. Some participants may choose to simply “listen” to what is said/shared without being active contributors to the conversation online. Please — feel free to do just that. So long as you are thinking about what you read, YOU ARE CONTRIBUTING to the overall resolution of our concerns. We can’t ask for more than that!
Sign In, Sign On!
The first step in taking part in this Teach In is to sign up for the newly created listserv specifically addressing the topic — VR-IA (VR/Interagency Agreements). This will be the mechanism through which you can sample the information provided and the discussion generated on this issue by your colleagues. To sign on, send a message to:
Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message, put:
Join the Teach In, YOUR NAME
(e.g., Join the Teach In, Jane Jarrow). You will receive a message requesting confirmation of your wish to sign on, followed by a welcome message that sets the ground rules for the listserv.
Now… Let Us Begin
As noted, there are four goals for our Teach In. Below you will find some elaboration of those goals and, where available, a link to further explanation/activity in that area. It is hoped that this explanation might give folks a better idea of what this Teach In has to offer — with your help and participation!
GOAL #1 – To Inform
Clearly, the main purpose of the Teach In is to provide the higher education community with information about the history, current practice, and future possibilities associated with the development of Interagency Agreements as mandated by the Reauthorization. There has already been some information written which can provide both an historical and a current grounding in these issues. Click here to find out where to look for that background information.
GOAL #2 – To Discuss/Share
The impetus behind the development of the Teach In is to generate discussion on this topic. The interagency agreements WILL be put in place, state by state. That is going to happen through the impetus of the VR system in implementing the law. The question is whether the higher education community chooses to be an active participant in shaping these agreements, or whether we will simply sit back and let it happen TO us. Only if we keep talking about what has happened/is happening can we hope to avoid losing ground by default, as a function of inaction! One of the problems in tackling this issue on a grand scale is that the resolution will be state-by-state and thus folks are feeling isolated — and perhaps a little disenfranchised! By keeping each other informed about what is developing state-by-state, we may be able to provide models, warnings, suggestions that will be useful to others. As the Teach In progresses, there may be information pulled from the listserv and posted here to keep the most useful comments, examples available over time.
GOAL #3 – To Publicize
One goal of our Teach In will be to make sure as many people as possible who should know what is happening do know what is happening (and what the potential impact could be on higher education). That means systematically cross-posting important information to other listservs whose subscribers may have overlapping interests. While ANY participant in the Teach In is free to cross-post information (as well as forwarding it on within their institution or structure), it may be helpful to identify specific individuals who actively choose to take responsibility for cross-posting to a given listserv as their contribution to the Teach In. This may help to avoid duplicate postings that could be annoying to the very folks we are trying to reach. If you are interested in taking on such an assignment, click here to read a job description and find out how to establish your commitment.
GOAL #4 – To Encourage Action
Some participants in the Teach In may simply choose to stay informed regarding this issue, rather than to attempt to act on the information. Some may not be in a position to act. But for those who are looking for suggestions/direction on how to be heard regarding these interagency agreements, one of the goals of the Teach In will be to provide specific examples, strategies, and ideas to assist you. As this information emerges, it will be posted here.
Translation of an ancient Hebrew admonishment:
If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
If I am for myself alone, what am I?
And if not now… when?