Special education: There's more to the story

  • Article by: Sarah Boggess
  • Updated: May 2, 2013 - 7:46 PM

Counterpoint

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phoilandMay. 2, 1310:13 PM

Sarah, as both a special education teacher and the parent of children on the autism spectrum, thanks so much for calling attention to the adversarial battleground this past weekend's story seems to be perpetuating between families of kids in need of special education services versus those who do not. Sadly, by focusing only on the far ends of the spectrum, so many success stories go unheralded.

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actualreaderMay. 3, 13 6:53 PM

On this "adversarial battleground" the Strib supposedly set up, it appears "regular" students and "special ed" students have been involved in competing for federal, state and local funding for many years, except nobody realized it was going on, or at least not the extent. Even if you ignore the 30-35 percent of funding supposedly going to regular students that's directed instead toward special ed, even if you ignore the growing class sizes (27.3 per teacher in elementary school 2007-8, making Minnesota second-most-crowded in the nation, beaten by earliest-into-recession Michigan at 27.4) you still run into the fact any student receiving special education services by law has an individualized education plan. Parents, teachers and staff work together on a plan that must be tailored to the student's skills and needs, and update it as needed to help the student reach her goals. Call me crazy, but I think every student should have an IEP and a team of people monitoring his progress. If we want to bolster our "failing schools" and "beat" Japan and Germany at K-12, we should put our money where our mouths are. Figuring out this discrepancy is a start.

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lcforresterMay. 4, 1310:54 AM

I would like to remark that though, yes, the article may have failed to mention the stories of success, it seems that it's initial purpose was for awareness. And though it may be wonderful to make citizens 'aware' of the success of special education in Minnesota, it's obviously very lacking. Sarah seems to have disabled children on a much more fortunate side, their 'normal' siblings probably give them an advantage of proper social integration at a level hardly met for others that do not have the privilege of interacting with 'normal' students on a regular basis. I would guess that the lack of social integration would strongly inhibit all aspects of a disabled child's life, as the studies of people of a 'normal' genetic disposition show the needs and benefits of social interaction on a regular basis. The fact that the percentage of insufficiently attended and educated for disabled students is irrelevant; no student should be perceived as a percentage anyway. Even the problems for a single student should alarm citizens and school faculty; each student is a person that will soon participate with society.

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chlyn001May. 5, 13 1:12 AM

To: actualreader Just what we need, more paperwork that no one reads and which takes up precious teacher time, complete with state and federal monitors who penalize schools and districts which do not comply completely with minute and silly bureaucratic regulations as regards how said paperwork is to be completed. Whatever is done has to be documented in triplicate, so to speak, and you can't do anything unless you follow the procedural rules to a T. Not to squash your idea totally though. A short list of goals and suggestions for what each student should be aiming for would be great. Maybe even a full sheet with current and future goals and suggestions could help some students (and maybe parents too), stay focused. The problem with current law as regards special ed and paperwork is that the paperwork itself has become the focus and the point, to the point where many teachers chafe at the time requirements to complete it, what with some IEPs running to 20 pages and some Evaluations going to 30. It's so out of control, many teachers can't keep up with both the preparation for each day's class work AND the paperwork. No wonder so many through in the towel. It's a double job in many cases, and the monitors who do the punishing don't really care. They want that work done to spec, and as I say, if it's not, you're "out of compliance" so look out. It's mostly a waste of a teachers' time and in fact, a massive waste of resources that nationwide, probably runs into the billions. It's a shameful excess and it's all done in the cause of lawsuit avoidance. I guess the paperwork for special ed is a proof for having done the stuff you expect your teachers to do. Pathetic.

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