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A bus for special education students leaves P.S. 206 in Manhattan.
Patrick Wall, Chalkbeat New York reporter, checks in on the new special education approach in NYC schools, designed to include students in regular classrooms rather than educating them separately.
Unfortunately the blame can be found at the schools themselves. The reform faces push back from all sides. Prinicpals and Unions have been a major obstacle in NYC's reform. Teachers do not want to accept students from a more restrictive environment without additional help; for example a paraprofessional. That is a more restrictive move and counteracts the Reform initiative.All schools should have at no exspense to their budgets a Math and ELA instructional coach for the reform.you have to spend money to help this initiaitive become successful. As a wise retired colleague once told me "you can't fix a plane when it is in flight". The same can be said for the City's support of Special Education.
First, a big THANK YOU to the Brian Lehrer show for covering special needs education. (Unlike BK from Hoboken, I am aware that the numbers of Special Ed kids way outnumber those who are gifted, so this kind of reporting needs to be continued.)
Secondly, I completely agree this point that was made: While the idea of inclusion is a good one, our schools are not equipped to support the idea well. For example, in 2012 my twins were headed to Kindergarten. My daughter went to our local, zoned school... but it was not at all equipped to take my son who has moderate autism. (He attends a private school paid for by the Board of Ed, because they recognized that they could not support his needs.) If my local, zoned, elementary school was equipped with special ed teachers who understand autism and ABA therapy, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, extra rooms to house these specialists and their equipment - then maybe it would work. But it comes down to funding and infrastructure, and it simply isn't there for most schools. So unless we want to rebuild everything, the ideal of inclusion cannot be supported.
Finally, I wanted to emphasize some things that were not included in this conversation. The BOE has significantly cut out smaller classes for kids who struggle. Some Special Ed students really need a class size of 12. The ASD Nest program (highlighted in this conversation) is what we need all over the system, and not just for children with autism. Smaller class sizes with inclusion would work best. Instead, the BOE has taken away smaller classes (segregated classes of 10 or 12 in many schools) and has forced the kids who would fit that profile into either Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) classrooms which can be quite large in size (up to 30, i think) - or else the kids are put into District 75 schools. Most parents I know avoid the D75 schools, as they can vary in their quality to such extremes. Neither is a good solution for those who thrive in smaller, yet inclusive settings.
It's a complicated issue, but we should aim for REAL inclusion, and not just segregation or integration. (For reference, see this: http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2014/01/02/inclusion-what-it-is-and-what-it-isnt/ )
Once again, students with disabilities get all of the press and funding, while gifted students who wallow in regular classrooms are ignored. Time Magazine did a cover story on this several years ago but in this politically correct no one wants to admit that maybe we should push some funding from someone who will not advance beyond high school and send it to regional programs that push the gifted students harder and give them the attention they deserve. These students are the ones who are going to cure cancer, if we do the proper job of stimulating them. Gifted programs get 2 cents for every $100 that disability programs receive. No one wants to talk about that though. Instead parents clamor to have their kids diagnosed with ADD so they can get more resources, unlimited test taking time, etc that doesn't prepare their precious for the real world.
"Inclusion" still does not address the principle reason students are referred for services: reading difficulties and/or dyslexia. I describe the magnitude of struggling readers (four out of ten students) in detail in this article: http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/education/842-to-help-all-children-read-first-do-the-math.
Inclusion does not provide struggling readers with the specialized help they need, so they continue to struggle through their school years.
It is a topic that simply does not get covered by education reporters, so I encourage Mr. Wall to delve into it in future articles.
Susan Crawford, DirectorThe Right to Read Projectwww.righttoreadproject.orgAuthor of Help! My Child Isn't Reading Yet -- What Should I Do?
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