Special and uneducated

Special education isn’t educating students in New York City, reports the Post.

New state statistics on the achievement of Big Apple students with learning disabilities in 2003 showed a shockingly abysmal performance, with only 3.5 percent of the eighth-graders passing the English exam and 5 percent passing the math test.

Eleven percent of students in the city are in special education, so New York is throwing away a lot of kids.

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  1. Richard Brandshaft says:

    What does “learning disabilities” mean in this context? That wasn’t a rhetorical question. I don’t know.

    If a lot of the students are actually retarded, it’s not surprising that they don’t read up to standard. The “solution” is to stop wasting time pretending to try to bring them up to normal.

    On the other hand, I have a dyslectic friend who is smarter than I am. They taught him to read, but with some difficulty. If “learning disabilities” refers to problems with a known solution, the school is falling down on the job. Badly.

    If “learning disabilities” means both of the above, averaging hides what’s really going on.

    11% is high enough to make me suspect a 3rd group: misdiagnosis. But again, I don’t know.

  2. I have a friend who did some service learning for her college English class in a middle school special ed class here in California. I don’t know about NY, or even any other CA special ed classes, but many of the students in the class she worked in were simply foreign students, mostly Hispanic, who hadn’t been given the attention they needed to learn English. She worked with 2 students the most, 6th and 8th grade, each reading at a 1st grade level. She had about 5 hours with each kid, spread out over several weeks, to work with them on phonics and grammar, and by the end of her time there, both had gone up several reading levels. The teacher had given up on them, saying they were nothing but behavior problems and she felt that they weren’t even capable of learning. She admitted to my friend outright that most of her students were ESL students put in special ed because the schools got more funding for each student enrolled in special ed. What amazed my friend was the teacher’s lack of effort in every trying to teach her students anything. She had already written them off, and even told them in class, in front of volunteers, that they’d never amount to much. There were other volunteers there, from the college and Marines from the base, who were helping out, and they seemed to be a counterweight to the teacher. The students were so desperate for someone to help them learn and to believe in them that they sometimes begged the volunteers not to go.

  3. Walter Wallis says:

    Sometimes special ed classes are justified just for the improvement in the education of those left in regular classes. Some people genuinely contribute most by their absence.

  4. JimInNOVA says:

    For once I’m going to agree with Walter. When i was in school Fairfax County attempted to keep special ed students in regular classes come hell or high water. As a result, every class would have a 15-20 minute block of independent work while the teacher was over helping the special ed student(s). It abated once I was able to take GT/AP courses, but the students in regular classes had to put up with having their classes paced to special ed needs through the 12th grade. Seperating them out could have allowed the regular english classes to add one or two more books to the reading list for the year, and the math classes to spend more time allowing all of the students to receive clairification.

  5. But Jim, you’re missing the point! It’s elitist to allow bright kids to move ahead of the rest of their age group. They’re supposed to sacrifice themselves for the good of their fellow students, including for those who don’t want to improve, those who are incapable of improving, and those who are just too plain stupid to want to improve.

    That’s social engineering 101.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I was one of the fortunate regular education teachers who was hired for a sped postion this past year. I was given zero information about how to teach these students. I had assumed most areas would be modified depending on the students Individual Education Plan (IEP). Unfortunately, many of the IEP’s could not link their disabilities to anything specific. Learning disabilities range from short memory to severe retardation. I was told not to worry about teaching the students as they would forget everything I had taught them the second they walked out the door. Disabilities that surprised me were severe behavior disabilities. Now, let me clarify this. I was told they did not have behavior problems anylonger, as they had earned their way out. NOT SO! ADD or ADHD are behavioral disorders. I was blindsided!. I began the school year with as many as 17 students to a class and now the biggest class I have has 6. All the students ended up in Alternative School, Long-term suspension or homebound. This was due to bullying, threats, gang-related activities, carrying weapons and drug paraphenalia. I never knew or was notified by the authorities until they kept missing class and I had to ask the authorities about them. I was also told to put on their exit folders that they all met their goals. I did not do this. I had to initial it and I did not want to lie. I could not put down a child met his goals when they won’t even mark on a paper. They refused. They have been babied and allowed to pass, regardless of their failures or successes.
    Anyway, since I am so incapable of controlling these angels. I will not be able to return to special-ed. But, if anyone wants to check the records they will see that there were many more teachers handing in referrals than myself. I did everything in my power to keep from writing them. However, their are many teachers who can write them up and send them to the office in hoards. Well, so much for my experiences.
    I can tell you one thing. Those who do not know what a learning disability is, just know this. Every human being has some type of learning disablility. Therefore, they need to come up with many more terms for this large range of learning disabilities. From forgetting something to wheelchair tie-down is extremely wide. If a child can’t control their anger because of one incident or waking up on the wrong side of the bed and they have to be watched all day due to the chance that they may use this as an excuse to pummel another student, well—now isn’t this surely a learning disability for a teacher to cure? I DON’T THINK SO!

  7. Rita C. says:

    I am a regular education teacher with a load of about 45 kids with learning disabilities of some sort mixed in with “regular” kids. The range of disabilities is enormous, I agree. I don’t feel anyone has ever asked me to “cure” them, and especially not the emotionally disturbed children. Yes, these are the ones that often “disapear” throughout the year — usually to jail (although I’m not supposed to know that due to confidentiality issues). I’ve seen my students’ mug shots on the evening news. I do my best, but when they go, I let them go. I’ve felt “blindsided” by a few classes, too, let me tell you. I’ve also fought the battle to get them to actually do some work. I hope you find a better teaching gig.

  8. I grew up with a learning disability. When I was 6 I fell and had a major concussion. They didn’t blame my learning problems on it but I think that it may have something to do with it. I had problems as far back as 4th grade. Parts of my problems now are with memory (and I’m not that old). The teachers kept getting me and my sister mixed up and we didn’t even look alike and are not twins. They told our mother my sister was hyper active, and it was me. Because of this mix up I never got any kind of testing. This happened till I was in 6th grade. Then and only then did I get any kind of help. They started pulling me out for reading, they had a table set up under the stairs and that is where we worked on phonics. I don’t remember much about it or when everything clicked with me but I do know that a lot of teachers just gave up on me. In Junior High I just wanted to fit in and I thought that if I played sports I might be able to do that. But, even when I was in school they had the “no pass no play” rule. So there for I didn’t get to play sports because I couldn’t make above a C in any class.

    Now I am grown with kids of my own and going through everything again. The only difference is, I am fighting for my daughters rights under the law. I am trying to keep her from slipping through the system. I am also trying to help other parents of kids with learning disabilities. After dealing with our school system on both the submissive side and the aggressive side I have learned a lot. By law the school system is to teach the parents about their and their children’s rights under the law. To them that mean putting a flyer with the report cards and hope the parents don’t see them.

    When I learned about both mine and my daughter rights under the law things changed and so did the school system in how they deal with me. Now I am looking to make changes on how they deal with her. They tested her and said she has SLD and LI, (Specific Learning Disability and Language Impairment). She has a lot of trouble sounding out words and if she is able to read a sentence and comes along a word that she has to sound out she forgets what she just read. If she goes back to reread the sentence she forgets what the word is she just sounded out. She has problems reading from back to front, with days of the week and with time.

    She is in what they call inclusion class for social studies and science. For reading and math she is in resource (these classes have 15 to 16 students with 1 teacher and 1 assistant teacher). Now in her regular classes it doesn’t cause a problem for her or any other kids because she now knows enough to get by with out them having to stop and help her. But in her resource class, how can they help her get to reading level with that many kids and only 1 teacher? Some of the kids in her class have behavioral problems and can disrupt the class taking time form the others because there aren’t enough teachers to go around. Everyone’s talking about a solution but I don’t see one. The government is not willing to put the money there for SPED or REG ed. No one wants to work with kids that act out and get paid the same as those working with normal kids. Both parents have to work and that is taking the volunteers out of the school.