A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Sunday, August 28, 2005

You Can't Make This Stuff Up-- IEP horror stories

So my district didn't make AYP, partly due to the scores of IEP students in communication arts.

Whoa, big surprise there!

For instance, there was Ringo*, whose IEP said that ANY work he turned in should be counted as extra credit. Not regular credit, EXTRA credit. But I never had to actually enforce this provision, since he never wrote anything that I saw-- unless the lyrics to Marilyn Manson's alleged "song" "Tea and Sympathy" counts. By the way, his mother tried to hand me work of his-- in her handwriting-- in the local grocery store while I was shopping-- she said she saw me go in and went back out to her car to get it for me. STG!

Then there was George*, whose IEP decreed that a 5' by 5' enclosure be constructed in the classroom for him to retreat to should he become overstressed. This was not the first time I'd seen this legally required remedy, by the way. A couple of years back, all the classes that Petula* attended had to have a study carel for her to sit in to minimize distractions for her, which wouldn't have rankled so much if I hadn't been trying to shoehorn 29 other distractions-- oops, I mean students-- into that same small room.

John*'s IEP was about 15 pages long but he was remarkably successful both in class and emotionally, with a B plus average, a sweet sense of humor--until his parents decided they wanted to send him to a private school, but they didn't want to pay for it. So they took him off all his prescriptions and changed therapists (the week before testing, although that's not the most important thing here.) He became deeply depressed, curled himself into a ball under his desk, couldn't sit still, and started scratching at his cuticles until they bled copiously and constantly picking his nose. When the school began calling the parents with our concerns, the parents filed suit to force the school district to pay John*'s tuition to the private school, alleging that we were maliciously failing to meet his needs under IDEA. And because of NCLB, the poor kid still had to test, and I got to sit in a room with him for four hours a day for two weeks (while a sub tested the rest of my students) and try to entice him with the liberal use of chocolate payoffs to finish the damn tests while he wanted to tell me about the bugs crawling beneath his skin and how his dead grandmother came to visit him in the night.

Paul*'s IEP stated that he could not be in the hallway during passing time-- we found out it was because he had a distressing but entrenched habit of shoving smaller kids (and since he was six feet tall in the 6th grade, that was most of them) headfirst into trashcans. So the IEP ordained that I was to walk him down two flights of stairs to his next class after the next class period had started. This, by the way, meant that I was to leave the 25 kids in my next hour class unsupervised (and, by the way, not receiving instruction) for five minutes each day.

But, hey-- the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many, right? Isn't that what IEPs have gotten to be all about?

Mick* was a great kid whose IEP stated that he was to take all quizzes and tests in the resource room. He came back with a quiz that he got a 92 on-- but in class, he volunteered the wrong answers to the very same material. So asked him to take the quiz again at the end of class-- and he got a 7. Percent. It was interesting to see how fast his caseworker ran to my room to try to explain what had happened after school that day. He averaged about 75% on work he did in class, and he worked hard. Y'know, if she'd just have given him the answers to 70% of the quiz, she probably would have gotten away with it.

By the by--Almost as bad are the forty or so kids I've had over the last few years who are doing great, have high GPAs, who refuse to receive any minutes of service from a special ed teacher, and whose parents openly admit that they have kept them under the terms of an IEP solely so that they can get extra time to boost their scores on the ACT and the SAT, not to mention the six AP tests they take each year. How is this not cheating? But it's okay, because at least their scores help raise the chances of us meeting AYP for students receiving special ed services.

And this is just the tip of the ol' iceberg, baby. I'm sure there are a million more stories in the naked city. We are required by law-- remember education is a right, not a privilege or a responsibility-- to take ALL comers. Kids with FAS. Kids with mental disabilities. Kids who used to have behaviors labelled BD, but God only knows what the latest euphemism is for it, because I can't keep up and they keep changing the name for the syndrome every month until it's gotten to be like the judge's famous definition of pornography: "I know it when I see it."

And by 2010, all of these kids are supposed to be performing at grade level on a standardized test with forty-two constructed response items. Yeah, right.

So I just have ONE question for Rod and now Margaret and George:


*- names have been changed to protect the innocent, although I should out the idiots who wrote the IEPs-- but I won't.

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At 8/29/05, 12:16 AM, Blogger Coach Brown said...

I'm very sorry to hear about this. I've got plenty of IEP students, but none have these kind of modifications. It puts a whole lot into perspective.

At 8/29/05, 6:18 PM, Blogger Polski3 said...

California has found a new way to keep people from wanting to teach Special Ed. in this state: Lets change the form for IEP's EVERY year! A new form to learn to complete and fill out for every special ed kid in your school!

IMO, this is "make work" for a bunch of *&^%$ edubureaucrats in Sacramento who need to do something to validate their jobs. Heaven forbid they have to enter a real classroom or deal with real special ed. kids......

At this time, I only have about six or seven "rsp" kids mainstreamed/enrolled in my grade 7 History classes. I have no clue as to what their problems are, as that secretitive data has not yet been shared with us.....maybe our few rsp teachers are too busy trying to figure out this years forms?

At 8/29/05, 7:36 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Political correctness gone crazy. It encourages parents to achieve certain designations so they can manipulate the system.

What a disgrace.

At 8/29/05, 9:43 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

And what's truly scary is, We haven't even discussed 504s. But am I just being too sensitive, or what?

And you're right about changing the stupid forms every year. Just another way of ducking accountability, I fear, using the old "mushroom" strategy.

My sister is now a special ed teacher-- a delicious irony, but that's a different story-- and the paperwork is nearly enough to cripple you.

So am I surrounded by an anomalous set of circumstances-- for my stories were ABSOLUTELY TRUE-- or have others noticed this craziness?

It comes down to two very different conceptions of how to interpret the duty we owe students with special needs. Do they need to do any adapting? Should we try to move them toward as much independence as we can, or will we be seeing more accomodations being demanded in the working world?

At 2/5/07, 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2/9/07, 6:37 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Keep it polite, or go vent somewhere else.

Peace to you.


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