Teacher shortage shortchanges disabled students

  • Article by: KIM MCGUIRE and JEFFREY MEITRODT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 17, 2013 - 9:15 AM

As Minnesota scrambles to educate more high-needs students, teachers say the job is increasingly dangerous.

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eman2002Jun. 8, 1310:27 PM

Like one of my special ed teaching friends said, it wasn't so bad dealing with the behavior all day long, but it was writing the reports every evening and dealing with overbearing administrators, that really killed the deal

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DufferHJun. 8, 1310:45 PM

Is the lawyer "...who has built a law practice fighting on behalf of special ed students." helping the problem or contributing to the problem? Is litigation really the way to help poorly funded schools to deal with the situation?

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bzladyJun. 9, 1312:35 AM

Thank you for writing this article and describing the challenges faced by teachers of the most challenging special education students. I have seen an increase in aggressive behavior resulting in staff injuries in SPED classrooms. The quality of a SPED programs is judged by the quality of the teachers paperwork, not on the goodness of the interactions between teacher and student. The teachers feel an enormous amount of pressure from admin to meet paperwork deadlines. I don't blame people for not wanting to work with most involved SPED students.

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grinnell4Jun. 9, 13 1:00 AM

I've done this before and I could not be paid enough to do it again.

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tooty123Jun. 9, 13 2:28 AM

Studies should be conducted to find out why there are so many children with autism in the past decade. Are all of these students truly autistic? Also, more and more students with severe mental health problems are coming into schools where they don't have the capabilities to assist them. Yes, it has become more dangerous for the teacher and the other students in the classroom. Are we really placing these students in the best learning environment? Until these problems are addressed, there will be less special education teachers in the future.

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garibaldJun. 9, 13 4:13 AM

I am in favor of more resources for schools in general and special ed in particular, but that means higher taxes. If society is not willing to tax at a level to provide enough resources, then we need to face up to the fact that we are not willing to fund special ed properly and quit taking resources from the majority of kids for the minority with special problems. Students with severe behavioral problems do not belong in a school setting. Of course they need services and education, but in a more controlled environment where they are not allowed to be a danger to others.

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comment229Jun. 9, 13 4:28 AM

If Anne Sullivan was a special ed teacher in Minnesota today, she would be fired in a minute. She did not have to fill out any paperwork and the most would have been, perhaps, a diary of ONE student. Now, multiply the I.E.P. of 20 or more students with diverse needs and these teachers have two choices; fill out the paperwork during school time, or work on it after school. You have not lived, until you have seen what they have to do and put up with on an average day. Most "ordinary" citizens wouldn't make it to lunch on a normal day in a "resource room." Deal with it. The problem exists and the solution will cost more than politicians are willing to pay. Ask ANY superintendent in ANY PUBLIC school about special ed funding and when they quit laughing about it, they will tell you the answer. Then go ask that exact same question in a private school. You know where this is going.

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brokenclockJun. 9, 13 5:07 AM

Sad but true. What a depressing article. However, it's the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to the wonders of "mainstreaming" and the "least restrictive environment" provisions of applicable laws, all classrooms have special ed students in them now. All classroom teachers are de facto special ed teachers. We sit in endless IEP meetings and do endless amounts of documentation. We deal with disruptive, uncooperative, even combative students every single day. We put up with the same frustrations and hazards that are in this article. It wreaks havoc in the classroom and all the students suffer for it. We don't have a lot of options. The sheer number of these special needs students is staggering and growing faster than the national debt. Additionally, once the parents have that signed IEP in their hands, they call the shots and provide a good living for lawyers like the one quoted in the article. I spent 22 years in the Marines and entered teaching as a second career. I was in the job long enough to watch things go from bad to worse. I don't know what the answer is. My solution was to leave teaching after 10 years. Did it burn me out? You betcha. I honestly don't know why anyone would want to be a teacher. I'd go back to the Marines in a heartbeat, but I'd sell pencils out of a tin cup with a monkey and a hurdy gurdy before I'd go back to a classroom.

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angleworm99Jun. 9, 13 6:01 AM

I've taught 8th grade science for 25 years and am love my position but feel for the SPED teachers. My wife is going back to school and I wanted to go into SPED. I adamantly told her, "That is not an option". Anything but SPED. The paperwork requirements are killing the programs.

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ishtar43Jun. 9, 13 6:11 AM

Thinking of applying for a SpEd teaching job in the Minneapolis Public Schools or elsewhere in MN? Don't. Turn and run as far as you can as fast as you can. You say you want to help disabled kids? Well, don't become a special educator. Be willing to take a pay cut and status cut and become a "paraprofessional" or teacher's aide. SpEd teachers are the punching bags of ignorant and inept administrators. They are the door mats of well paid attorneys and legal teams that every public school district has now that scour the litigation trends and run the dog and pony show to make the district's special educators their paralegals who will have little time for effective instruction because they will be typing goals and objectives on their laptops 12 hours a day. SpEd teachers and their aides are low in the caste system that is the public schools human resource for putting employees in ridiculously absurd and unmanageable positions that keep telling teachers, and I quote MPS admin- "Shut and lock your door and do your paperwork. Our IEPs and Evals are being monitored by the state this spring." And the naive teacher says, "But what about the students and their needs?" "Lock your door and do your papers,,,"

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