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Special Education Changes

Monday, July 30, 2012

Shael Polakow-Suransky, chief academic officer of the New York City Department of Education, talks about how NYC public schools are moving to a system for "inclusion" of special needs kids in regular classrooms.

Guests:

Shael Polakow-Suransky

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Comments [11]

Pat from brooklyn ny

I am a tech ed specialist in a private school in manhattan, teaching third and fourth grade. I have very small classes, but within most groups there are at least one or two special needs kids that are not pulled out for computer classes. some of these are kids who need almost constant one on one instruction. so my very strong suggestion would be to have a special education teacher in the classroom to assist when the special ed kids are in the room. if not, this will be just one more herculean task for the classroom teachers who are already pushing the rock up the hill on a daily basis. I second what chris c says above about it sounding like an unfunded mandate.

Jul. 30 2012 11:17 AM

A very intelligent friend of mine, now in his 70s, spent time in a one-room school. Many ages & abilities were in the class. The teacher was just the orchestrator, and the students taught themselves & each other. Older and faster students taught those who had not learned that lesson yet. Teaching helps the learning process: watch one, then do one, then teach one.
He said it was the best educational experience he ever had.
But if the class is just going to be a teacher's lecture that's too fast for the slow, and too boring for the quick, then I'm skeptical of integrating differently-abled learners.

Jul. 30 2012 11:10 AM
Susan

Interesting that the issue of differentiation wasn't addressed. All good teachers differentiate their instruction to meet the needs of all their students, whether they have special needs or not. To assume that only students with IEPs need special attention reveals the big issue - most teachers in general teach to one generalized norm in the classroom leaving out students that don't fit that mold.

Jul. 30 2012 11:05 AM
oscar from ny

I transfered from chelsea elementary to ps11 when i was a child in the early 80s, right away i learned how "seperation" was natural, i saw all minorities in one floor and all the white kids including maybe one black...now in graduation the white kids got all the awards for almost everything except gym or art...i learned that the minorities students where somewhat i guess "special" or slow i guess...but i honestly can tell you that my teachers loved me because even tough i was a latino..no other kid can do art as i could...we made chelsea what it is..

Jul. 30 2012 10:57 AM
Vicki from Brooklyn

I agree with Shael on so much. I teach in a school with about 35% students with IEP, and the fullest inclusion is really good. We do have a couple of 12:1 classes, but we mainstream students who are ready in the subjects they can do. But! what about the point that weaker students who are not in classes with the strongest students don't learn as much? Doesn't that suggest that all the "creaming" done in NYC secondary schools don't serve all students to achieve at their highest level? General ed kids, not just students with IEPs?

Jul. 30 2012 10:55 AM
eleniNYC from Jackson Heights

The "CTT" program has finally been implemented nationally ever since the govt. deemed self-contained as a "stygmatism" to students with special needs. This is badly coded language for "the govt. is not funding students and schools with special needs anymore". The caller is correct that IEP students are NOT always ready . The other BIG problem is students with special needs with ESL students. ESL students have very different needs than special needs students.

Jul. 30 2012 10:54 AM
Donna from Westchester

"gifted" students should also be labeled as "special needs" and be included instead of excluded.
Many times those labels are changing during the years. The evaluation systems keep changing. Diversity is a key value of public education.

Jul. 30 2012 10:54 AM
g in staten island from staten island

I saw a City Coucil Education Committee broadcast on Television. If I understood correctly, The Dep't of Education representative indicated there would be a review of the current IEP's to see if the student's current school could offer a less restrictive environment and "still" meet the student's needs. If the IEP is current, and the City already paid City staff or consultents to produce the IEP, why does the City feel the current school's staff is more appropriate to develop another IEP-- and if that staff is "more appropriate:", why did the City waste money on having the prior, (still current), IEP developed.

Jul. 30 2012 10:54 AM
Tish Doggett from Brooklyn

What is the city going to do to lower class size so teachers can give all students the necessary attention? Our school is a highly rated "alternative" public school (Brooklyn New School) with incredibly talented teachers. Ideally, a CTT class would have many less than 32 students in, for example, 2nd grade. You are going to burn out very talented teachers and neglect the needs of "average" and "above average" students who do not get personalized, individualized learning plan.

Jul. 30 2012 10:53 AM
Cynthia Kerns from Jackson Heights, NY

As a special ed teacher my concern is that there will not be enough staffing to handle the changes. Inclusion works well when you have enough staff to handle the various schedules. Also, for students with behavioral issues, many schools do not have the personnel to provide extra support in a general ed. classroom.

Jul. 30 2012 10:53 AM
chris c. from brooklyn, ny

As a Special Needs teacher I'm all for these new reforms for Special Ed., but it seems to be foisted upon us teachers without the supports from the DOE. We are already spread very thin as teachers, and now you're asking for flexible scheduling, re-working small group instruction, more push-in from specialties, etc. Comes across as unfunded mandate.

Jul. 30 2012 10:52 AM

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