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

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Why?


... do I need to give a final exam to a child who is severely disabled and is simply here for "socialization?"

... do I have a young person in my room, a room already filled with twenty-five other people, who is here strictly for socialization?

... did that student nearly get in a fight with another kid because his aide was not by his side, as required by his IEP?

... did I have to break up that altercation, at considerable risk, since this young person is so incredibly unpredictable?

... did I have to answer dozens of questions and eight separate emails about a problem that lasted less than two minutes from six, yes--six!-- different people?

... don't the parents of the other kids in the room scream their own heads off when this kid's wailing and shrieking completely drowns out my voice as I am trying to teach and continues like a siren in my and everyone else's ear for ten solid minutes?

... doesn't anyone ask what the cost is to other students of having disruptive and volatile young people sitting in a classroom for socialization only, especially when it is obvious that this socialization is not working or this child wouldn't be getting into altercations with someone at least once a week?

... does the caseworker not comprehend this obvious failure in strategy?

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24 Comments:

At 2/5/09, 2:20 PM, Blogger OKP said...

I don't even know what to say. I'm sending you some spare Zen. You are right. They are not.

 
At 2/5/09, 2:47 PM, Blogger teachergirl said...

Why indeed? I don't have the answers; I just know that my state is beginning to pull special education teachers out and they are basically beginning to require regular ed teachers to deal with all the special kids - no matter what. If I were a parent, I would scream loud and long all day long.

 
At 2/6/09, 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

....don't the parents of the other kids in the room scream their own heads off when this kid's wailing and shrieking completely drowns out my voice as I am trying to teach and continues like a siren in my and everyone else's ear for ten solid minutes?

Because you are a high school teacher and we (the parents of the other children) have been trying since our kids were in early elementary school to get the school people to understand that our kids can't learn in that environment. I have long since learned that the administration doesn't care if my kid is terrrorized because she doesn't have a diagnosis.

... doesn't anyone ask what the cost is to other students of having disruptive and volatile young people sitting in a classroom for socialization only, especially when it is obvious that this socialization is not working or this child wouldn't be getting into altercations with someone at least once a week?

Because no one in power cares about the ordinary kids.

 
At 2/6/09, 1:09 PM, Blogger NYC Educator said...

That's awful. I'm so sorry you and your kids have to go through that.

 
At 2/6/09, 7:34 PM, Blogger the learning teacher said...

This is remarkably similar to a situation in my own 6th grade classroom. Our kid isn't as extreme an example as yours, and he has no official diagnosis. He is, however, so consistently disruptive that if he's not isolated in a far corner of the room he'll completely disrupt the learning of those around him. He still manages to whack kids with rulers, or burst out crying (a 12 year old!) when you tell him to do the same assignment everyone else is doing (and which he's perfectly capable of intellectually), or sprout a convenient limp when it's time for PE (which curiously disappears when he's on his way to get seconds in the cafeteria-- yeah, I saw that!). The list goes on.... The point is, I spend so much more time thinking about his $#(*&@@! than about how to get nice quiet little Susie to speak up in a literature discussion, etc. It's a bummer.

 
At 2/7/09, 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a special ed teacher and the parent of a kid with learning disabilities, I do believe in inclusion for children who are capable of doing grade-level work with additional academic support. That said, the primary purpose of a core academic classroom is learning, not socialization. Students who are incapable of learning in this environment, even with special education support, should not be placed in these classrooms. This is the antithesis of the "least restrictive environment" specified in IDEIA. There are plenty of opportunities for socialization in other, non-academic settings that will not disrupt instruction and handicap the general education learners.
-WordNerd70

 
At 2/7/09, 6:29 PM, Blogger Lking4truth said...

Yes I would have to agree with the last comment from “anonymous.”
As a former teacher now therapist, I do believe in inclusion when at all possible. But if this is not working, the team needs to have an updated IEP meeting with the school psychologist present to come up with a different plan for socialization that includes evidenced based interventions (treatment proven to work)…and sorry to tell you that having one-to-one tech support is not evidenced based treatment. This happens all the time; as soon as the tech is not there or not looking, the student acts out again. Students with disruptive behavior disorders need evidenced based treatment in the classroom (hopefully smaller class size as well).
I’m sure I’ll get a big AMEN! from the teachers in the room:
Evidenced based treatment for disruptive behavior disorder includes family therapy. Without family therapy, treatment may have limited success. There has to be a clear continuum between the behavior plan at home and school…..Yea I know….good luck with that right?

 
At 2/7/09, 6:46 PM, Blogger Polski3 said...

Damn.....can you refuse this student being in your class if his/her aide is not present? Were you (or any other teachers) part of the IEP ( Isn't that required by LAW ? ).

I wish you luck. Sadly, another example of the small minority having "rights" that supersede the RIGHTS of the vast majority.

 
At 2/7/09, 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, Anonymous!

Anonymous writes: "Because you are a high school teacher and we (the parents of the other children) have been trying since our kids were in early elementary school to get the school people to understand that our kids can't learn in that environment. I have long since learned that the administration doesn't care if my kid is terrrorized because she doesn't have a diagnosis.

... doesn't anyone ask what the cost is to other students of having disruptive and volatile young people sitting in a classroom for socialization only, especially when it is obvious that this socialization is not working or this child wouldn't be getting into altercations with someone at least once a week?

Because no one in power cares about the ordinary kids."

 
At 2/7/09, 9:27 PM, Blogger Mrs. Bluebird said...

I've often wondered when/if parents of your basic regular ed kids would get together, form a group, and raise holy heck in order to see that their children are given the education they deserve. That's how these kids ended up in regular classrooms in the first place - these parents went to court.

That being said, there needs to be a change to the IEP. Socialization should occur in classrooms that aren't core academic subjects.

 
At 2/8/09, 8:29 AM, Blogger Ricochet said...

As a regular ed teacher with an ineffective co-teacher (he doesn't SEE anything going on in the room and focuses on the working kids who talk not the non-working kids throwing things) - I feel your pain. I write up the offenders and work to get them out of my class so I can teach the rest.

As a high school teacher I am trying to teach the other kids that the offenders are STEALING their education and they need to use peer pressure to get their education back.

Some days it even works.

 
At 2/8/09, 12:12 PM, Blogger Mary Louise Brooks said...

I have said the same thing for years. It's just a matter of time before we have lawsuits against teachers for not teaching their students. Also, tons of lawsuits against school districts for denying their children the education they're entitled to due to the few who make it difficult. It's really just a matter of time.

 
At 2/8/09, 4:19 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

No, this is "an offer I cannot refuse...."

I think my frustration comes from the fact that I have thought it would be a "matter of time" for twenty years now.

This student actually said to me the other day, "You know, it seems a lot noisier in here lately."

And I actually said, "Yep-- and what is YOUR contribution to that situation?"

And that led to a pretty quiet day. But the "rights" of one should not outweigh the rights of the many. Let's face it-- this young person is headed to a sheltered workshop for post-HS, but the rest of these kids will be working the jobs to pay the taxes to pay for that sheltered workshop. And their education is being compromised.

 
At 2/8/09, 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Mrs. Bluebird,

Part of the problem I see as a parent of relatively neurotypical kids (at least two out of my three), the school can retaliate against my kids if I kick up to much of a force.

I can't afford private school, and I am doing my best to mitigate the damage the school does to my kids.

We (the parents of the relatively behaved kids) know that capable teachers are in short supply and that the school is going to stick somebody's kid in the class(s) with the violent kids and/or the incompetent teachers.

This year, my 10 year old (who is WAY too young to be involved in these sorts of discussions) my husband and I have come to the conclusion that it is better to be in a classroom with ill behaved children, a tired, less than motivated teacher and no academic peers that to take the risk of being put in the class with the violent child.

And, there are only so many battles you can fight. Yes, you would think that getting your kids out of a violent classroom would be top priority. It took 1 1/2 years for me to get my daughter out of a classroom that has a violent disturbed child.

I am not beholden to anyone at the school or on the school board for employment or business referrals....that puts me in the minority. But many parents at the school are not in that position. All these things make fighting the school to get a safe place for our kids difficult.

It would also be nice if the kids could learn something every day, but that is probably asking WAY too much.

 
At 2/8/09, 11:15 PM, Anonymous Orlando Fernandes said...

ok what do you do when a parent influences the teacher to get his child to be your son's benchmate because he thinks your son will be good influence on his son and perhaps improve his sons grades but you suddenly find your son's english and accent is going bats?

 
At 2/9/09, 8:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good question Orlando. That is happening to my daughter right now.

Her behavior is also deteriorating. Starting about this time of the year we have regular conversations about how just because you can behave that way at school doesn't make it acceptable at home.

 
At 2/9/09, 7:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, it has been my experience that the troubled kids often end up in the veteran teacher's room-- which frankly keeps this from being worse than it otherwise would be.

Those that can do, are punished for it....

 
At 2/9/09, 8:59 PM, OpenID lady said...

We currently have a second grader that is mentally disturbed and not getting any sort of treatment or medication. He is constantly making death threats toward his classmates and teachers. All we get from our principal is that the last 4 meetings with the parents have been cancelled and "his meds are being looked at". This has been going on since October. Meanwhile, as a not zero-tolerance school, nothing happens to this child and his classmates are scared and feel unsafe.

Education should be about the majority, not the minority. No wonder the kids who rich/smart enough go to private school. I pity the average middle- and lower- income kids.

 
At 2/27/09, 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I have a question for you:
"what about trying to -understand- this child instead of complaining about it? What about seeing him as a -child- instead of someone there "only for socialization". What about trying to really socialize him instead of seeing him as someone only disturbing the class? What about trying to put YOURSELF in that child's and family's position?"

You know how it feels like only when you have the problem...

Isolating is the easy way to "get rid of" such childen, right? I guess people have to try the "hard way" at last!

I guess it is time to teach yourself and your normal students to learn to live with disabled people.

Learning to live with them, accepting them the way they, and trying to help them to find a way out, reminds us that we are still humans...

 
At 3/3/09, 8:15 PM, Blogger Momma said...

That is such a hard situation!! It is so frustrating that you are having to deal with such a situation.

In my special education classes in college inclusion was a huge debate. I think the anonymous commenter right above me has missed the point of your post. I don't think you were saying that this child is not a person. Just wondering whether the "system" is working in favor of all students involved. And it is obviously not. If your students are getting in altercations and your classes are being interrupted something needs to change. Inclusion is NOT the best solution in all cases. Some...but not all.

 
At 3/23/09, 8:00 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Dear anonymous,
I DO accept this student as a person-- a person whose behavior is screaming out "this is not the place for me; I am frustrated because I understand little of what is going on!"

A person, I might add, about whom I continually worry will tick off the wrong kid who has their OWN disability issues and get completely hammered before anyone can intervene. It keeps me up nights, and I am NOT kidding.

I accept this student as is-- I just don't think the family and the caseworkers do.

But my other students are people too-- people who have the right to an education, not just "socialization."

And thanks, Momma, for understanding what I am saying.

 
At 5/1/09, 4:12 PM, Blogger chasedc said...

Ms. Cornelius,
Your article perfectly echoes my mother's issues in her 44 years of teaching, although she was a special ed teacher.
She worried over many of her students who had to be 'mainstreamed' when they shouldn't have been.
Parents who want their disabled/differently abled (whatever label) child to have a 'normal' school experience should consider what is best for the child. Not every child can or should have a 'normal' school experience.
For many children with disabilities it is disastrous. Sacrificing the child's education, and the education of the children in the other desks, shouldn't have to happen just because the parents want to pretend the child is 'normal'. Class should be based on ability. Learning should come first.
Socialization is highly overrated. My cousin who is severely disabled when to a special school (not 'normal') where they taught him what he needed. A new law was passed that mandated that he be 'mainstreamed'. His mother refused and managed to keep him where his needs were meet. Socialization is what clubs, the playground, and weekends are for.
My own kids needed more from school than the regular teacher could give them, so instead of making her job harder, and possibly depriving the other kids of learning time for my own convenience, I pulled them out and home school them. It was the best solution for everyone and is working well.

As far as 'anonymous' goes, if someone doesn't sign their name, then they don't deserve an answer.

Maybe some of the other parents, those whose children are getting cheated out of their rightful learning, should come and observe the class. Let them go to the principal, then the school board.

Keep up the good work. America needs many more teachers with the heart you have.

 
At 5/2/09, 1:21 PM, Blogger PaintCrazy said...

What happens when the rest of the parents get together and push the school to get rid of the "special ed" kid? I can tell you. The school fears a lawsuit that would be "public" and hurt their good name. So instead they break the law and expel the kid knowing full well going to due process (court) with the parents of the special ed kid will be costly but less public.

And the kid? He's given 45 minutes per day of "home based" education because they can't find another "least restrictive" placement and 45 minutes is all the law requires for a Free and Appropriate Public Education.

Interesting isn't it? He was supposedly in school for socialization but ends up confined to home where there are no other children...

 
At 11/23/10, 12:15 AM, Anonymous TeacherUpNorth said...

Up here in Canada, we call it 'Inclusion'. It is said to make the Special Ed (SE) Student feel more included and welcomed into the classroom. There was, however, a report on CBC (our nationwide radio) about Inclusion. I work with two high-functioning autistic students (currently in grade 11) who had lots to say about this. These are bright ladies who have learnt to express themselves very well. They felt that inclusion was NOT the best for ANYONE, they didnt learn well when they could hear pencils scratching, lights buzzing and students breathing (muchless the regular classroom sounds). They said because they were so sensitive to all of this extra sensing, that they probably caused lots of distraction to their classmates. To Quote my student "total inclusion is not going to help the child at all because the situation is prohibiting their learning as well as the other students that are not with disabilities" (and yes, those are their words..... their passion is writing)
Basically this is just the governments way of saving money while telling the public "oh, but then they'll all be Equal and feel included"
in conclusion, these girls have chosen to homeschool (with the support of their parents) and are now going to graduate with a regular Diploma!!! they would have fallen through the cracks had they continued in public school.

 

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