Friday, June 5, 2015

Nancy Bailey's #14

Nancy Bailey has a great post today discussing what she'd like to hear presidential candidates address in education. She laid out 1 through 13, but 14 through 16 she asks her readers to weigh in. Number 14 on her list is special education, a topic on which she usually writes. As you can imagine, I have a thing or two to say about special education from a parent's perspective - pretty basic stuff, really.

  1. I want to know how they will better fund special education (since fully finding anything these days is a pipe dream).
  2. How will their Education Secretary encourage/support states to:
    1. educate parents on their rights.
    2. educate districts on proper procedures for identifying, evaluating, classifying, and delivering services to students with disabilities.
    3. ensure OCR complaints are fully investigated in a timely manner.
    4. ensure special education teachers have access to professional development relevant to their specialty.
    5. ensure that all K-5 teachers have training to be able to identify problem areas, like reading, and know what to do about it.
  3.  I hope they understand how important it is to educate students with disabilities. The purpose of which is to help them become the best citizens they can be. (Does that sound sappy? Eh, maybe, but it's true. Everyone has something to contribute.)
  4.  I want them to be brave enough to actually listen to parents and teachers. We are the ones living this every day. (Maybe this should be number 1.)
It's been an interesting week here in New Jersey. I was at two public meetings in Trenton. At one, I heard several really fierce parents and teachers plead for the attention of the State Board of Education as students' IEPs are being changed without consent, as those students are losing their paraprofessionals, as some schools in their city are disproportionately burdened with more challenging students than others, and all called for the resignation of the state appointed superintendent.

At the other, I was told by a representative of special education schools they would not be supporting an Assembly bill aimed at barring special education and ELL students from taking the PARCC exam. While I don't support the bill as written either (those pesky Federal requirements get in the way), I was completely taken aback by their reason -- our kids have to be tested [using PARCC] to know how they are doing. *le sigh*

My response to that was, of course we need to know how "our kids" are doing, but PARCC isn't going to tell us that. Our teachers are.

Bottom line, who is actually listening to parents and teachers? Will any of the presidential candidates, from any party, be that person?  Am I asking too much? It doesn't seem like a lot.

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