Friday, May 16, 2014

Special Ed

I learned a new education buzz-phrase today. Pushed Out - That is when a school district works the system in such a way as to nudge parents into moving their "undesirable" child out of the school and into another out-of-district placement. It's very passive-aggressive! Don't get me wrong...I am not dropping hints that this is what happened in our case. No, no. Quite the opposite.

In some states, Charter schools are all the rage. They custom design their education programs to attract a certain type of student. Sounds great, right? If you have a typical child who is academically gifted, sure. But these schools don't have the funding or staff to handle most special needs kids. So they will tell perspective parents things like "I don't think your child would be a good fit for this rigorous and competitive environment." Thus ensuring their school stays high performing. It's a new kind of segregation. Ugly, right? Yeah, I'm not a fan of Charter schools anymore. It's not fair to take my tax dollars to pay for your pseudo-private school masquerading as a public school.

I'm also not a fan of school districts who very deliberately try to hang on to their kids with IEPs but don't make any effort to actually meet their needs. Oooh? Who would do such a crappy thing, and why? Funding. Special Needs kids represent a significant source of additional funding for a school district, if you have enough of them. Strike the right balance and you can keep those kids mainstream, ignore most of their needs, and keep all that sweet sweet funding without having to shell out the dollars for special programs or needed staff. Keep crying poor and underfunded to the stressed out parents as they try to help their floundering kids stay afloat in an environment that isn't suited or adapted for their needs. Then play dumb when those parents start to get wise to the tricks.

Yep. THAT scenario was us. We are not dumb. It took us a while to figure out what was going on, but we fought for our boy and won. He's in a program that combines mainstream activities with typical school kids and a custom education plan that is project based and very progressive. Perfect for our non-neurotypical son. Fantastic! Oh, but wait, there are speed bumps on the horizon.

Enter Common Core. Lots of buzz going around about these nation wide education standards. 46 states have adopted common core, and counting. New testing standards are coming to our district. It means MORE testing and more frequently, too. Gives the department of education all those lovely data points they like to reference. Grade our schools. Sort them by test scores and fix the bugs...bugs being under-performing students or bad teachers. Get rid of the bad seeds and FIX our nation's education system. The proof is in all that *bleeping* testing, people!

But, what if you have a child who doesn't test well. Hell, he freezes at the very idea of sitting in a room for hours doing nothing but coloring in dots or checking boxes on a computer screen. Hmm? What then? Lock all those poor performers up in a couple centralized schools and don't count the scores of those "specials"? Don't think I am exaggerating here. Arizona is already stacking up special needs kids in segregated school programs away from the main stream. It could happen here too!

Education in this country is broken and common core is NOT the answer either. Sadly, it's going to take a generation of kids failing at life to prove my point. My next stop in my quest for knowledge on how our children are expected to acquire learning in this country...who did the research into Common Core standards? What collection of lame brains came up with THAT plan? Shouldn't educational standards for the whole country be designed and implemented by, oh, I don't know, SMART people? I strongly suspect there were not very many smart people working on this. Strongly suspect.

And that is my rant for the day. *steps off soap box*

1 comment:

Donna said...

I learned a lot reading this. I've heard the term "common core", and had no idea what it was, but when I see it mentioned by Facebook friends, they are never happy about it.