Friday, March 12, 2010

Rant Of All Rants

Okay boys and girls, sit tight and get ready for one of the biggest rants I have let loose in a long time, or skip this post. I've been trying to be good and post stuff like this on Packemin HS but this needs to come out here. If I try to contain it, I will explode.

I broke a cardinal rule today by attending an IEP conference. I hate those things. The few I went to years ago just wanted the general ed teacher to sit there quietly and sign. Since I am no ones rubber stamp, I opened my mouth, argued when necessary and eventually no one asked me to attend anymore, which was good.

My inclusion boy had his conference today and he, along with his mom asked me to be there. They even arranged the conference around my schedule so I could attend. The conference began with introductions and Ms. Inclusion Teacher (forever more to be known as Ms IT) reading from the IEP and announcing several changes she wanted to implement. When she announced removing the reader from his exams, I spoke up. Inclusion Boy doesn't need the reader for everything, but, when some of his exams are read to him, he does better. Leaving the reader in place on the IEP will give him options. His mom agreed. His sister pointed out that since he will be going to college eventually, it was better to leave the IEP as it stood. Ms. Inclusion teacher had to change what she wrote. Already, she was unhappy.

Next we got to Inclusion Boy's schedule for next year. Ms IT didn't see any need for him to take trigonometry but once again, I butted in and backed by the sister, won. Then we got to science. Chemistry was an option. Ms. IT didn't even know if Inclusion Boy needed another lab science or not but after some discussion, it was decided he didn't. She wanted to put him in a general science class and once again, I objected. Those general classes are full of kids with behavioral problems and not the right environment for a child like him. I suggested forensics. Mom and sister agreed. Inclusion Boy agreed. Ms IT tried to shoot it down but was once again unsuccessful.

I brought up the fact that inclusion students are not included on my ARIS class list, something I have been asking for since the beginning of the year. Once again, excuses were made, others were blamed, even Principal Hula was blamed for the over sight although I know for a fact he has no control over this program and he did attempt to get those kids on ARIS. Instead of trying to fix the problem, I was told I am the only teacher who has a problem with this, so the problem must be me, not them. Not wanting to let this rest, I spoke to a few other teachers of inclusion kids and hopefully they will start making waves about this problem as well.

I asked if Inclusion Boy's teachers were hand picked, because they should be. Not every teacher has the temperament to work with a child like him and some I know would chew him up and spit him out. Of course Ms IT said this was impossible. When she left the room, I told mom and sis that if Inclusion Boy had a problem, he could always find him. I tend to be just annoying enough to get my way and in the past I have been able to get kids into classes that no one else can get them in to. Ms Condescending Guidance Counselor did not like that at all. She made a big point of trying to make it look like I thought I was the only one who cared. Luckily mom and sis knew how wrong she was and how right I was and defended me. I just got up and walked out, came home and wrote the mom a long e-mail apologizing for abruptly leaving the meeting and not saying goodbye.

On my way home today, I ran into another one of Inclusion Boy's teachers. This teacher adores him as much as I do and also goes out of her way to do everything possible to help him and make sure he is becoming all that he can. She was sorry she did not know about he meeting because she too would have attended and brought up many of the same issues I did.

Inclusion Boy has come a long way in the short time he has been at Packemin. When he first started doing well, instead of praising him, Ms Condescending and Ms IT questioned the integrity of his teachers.

I am sure Ms IT and Ms Condescending have nothing against this child. In fact, I am willing to bet they like him as much or even more than I do. But, when it comes to going to extra mile to give him the help he needs, they are out of gas. The jealousy they felt and showed when they saw how the family felt about my concern for him was unreal.

Educating kids like Inclusion Boy properly is not an easy thing to do. I don't have all the answers. In fact, I have very few of the answers. I went to the conference to try to learn some but no information was forthcoming. I heard the same crap over and over again. "Most of the kids are not gen ed kids like this one. The teacher that was here a few years ago dealt with a different population. Why are you the only one making an issue out of this? We have four kids to take care of."

One thing I learned from all of this is that I still want to avoid IEP conferences. As far as inclusion goes, it will probably be a cold day in hell before Ms. IT puts one in any of my classes again.


ChiTown Girl said...

Kudos to you POd! I'm so happy to hear that this boy's mother and sister know how you went to bat for him, and how much you care. The message it sends to Inclusion Boy is beyond words! He will remember you for the rest of his life as the teacher who cared.

Anonymous said...

Why does she not think it feasible that a special ed child can excel in certain subjects like math???

What is really sounds like is that they are trying to do away with having tests read aloud because of the scheduling problems. The fact that one person can make these decisions w/o feedback from other teachers sounds illegal.


kherbert said...

I have a child with an IEP - who I've nominated for G&T. Yes she is dyslexic, but she is a math/numbers person.

At my school no-one will imply that a child with an LD is automatically not intelligent. If they do -then they have me in their face. The other day I was distracted by a teacher, while I wrote bell work on the board.

When the kids came in they looked at the instructions but didn't follow them. One of the kids asked, "Ms. Herbert did you mean to write that backwards?" Yes the instructions were mirror image. I guess it says something about my personality that they weren't sure if it was a mistake or a challenge.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your IEP victory. I do however "charge you" to continue going to these IEP meetings even though you deplore them. I send this charge because so many IEP's are written like "fluff recipes" and the only one to suffer is the child. Often times parents aren't savvy enough to know the special ed nuances of what their child needs and of course the DOE representatives with the CSE aren't going to offer any strategies.

The SPED person at the school is most likely under the control of the principal or other string masters and also don't ensure all the services, or even that the right learning environment (class setting) is recommended for the student. To the contrary, I have seen MANY students stay in general ed when they would have really flourished in a real CTT or even, a more restrictive, but smaller 12:1:1 (not an off the wall, filled with behavior issues 12:1:1).

The same especially holds true for charter schools who don't even have the true means of servicing many students with LD's or providing the necessary learning environment. Often times, schools, both DOE & charter are staffed with SPED teachers who are either so new to the profession & wet behind the ears that they have no real clue how to advocate for the special needs students in their school OR the one who has been in the system so long that they are burned out & recommend anything at IEP meetings.

Either way, the parent is ill informed of the options for their child and the child is given a yearly IEP which is not reflective of their true needs & the services and environment that would make them most successful academically, socially & emotionally.

Please keep going to these IEP meetings on behalf of your students. Be the sound, moral voice who can offer some support to them & their parents about other strategies, supports & options that will make them successful for their future lives beyond elementary, middle & high school.

A really great friend of mine used to work at a charter school in Red Hook, but had to leave because of the practices the school was doing with their SPED students. The saddest part is that none of parents at the school have a clue when it comes to getting all the services their children need or even the options they have for other school choices because the school employs people who are either too inexperienced to know anything or are puppets themselves and say whatever their principal wants for fear of getting fired due to at-will charter policies.

Please continue your fight & stand up for your brilliant, voiceless students & their families. OK. Enough of my own ranting :)

Anonymous said...

It's your job to know when the IEP meetings are scheduled and to go to them. You weren't doing anyone any favors by going, you were doing your job. Also, disagreement during the discussion of an IEP is supposed to happen. Each of the team members knows the child in different capacities, so disagreements will often take place. You did what you were supposed to do, advocate for what is best for the student. The fact that you avoid IEP meetings or don't go unless your invited or told to go is irresponsible. To many in the NYC school system think they need to be told what to do before doing it. This is a product of the Bloomberg Administration's dictatorial control over our schools (don't let me get started on that fiasco). Start finding out when your student's IEP meetings are scheduled and go to them. You sound like you know your students and your school well, so your input is valuable and necessary.

One more thing, a great teacher makes those around them better, even those who seriously struggle. That's what makes them great and not just good. Grandstanding and condescension are a sign of insecurity. They benefit no one but those with a small ego.

Pissed Off said...

You try to find out when all these meetings are. In a school the size of mine, it is impossible to know about them unless you are invited. Most of them occur while we are teaching so attending is impossible. It definitely is not my job to go to these meetings.

The IT teacher forgot to notify me about this one. She expected the parent to take care of that. Luckily, I asked a para who forced her to give me the time and date.

Anonymous said...

"It's not my job" and "It's impossible" are sayings that are the refuge for the weak. If you are half the teacher you think you are, you would find a way to make it possible and make it you job.

Good luck.

Pissed Off said...

I never said I was a great teacher or a super teacher. And, I can't do it. I am just 5% of what you think I am.

I admit that I am weak. I cannot save the world.

Liberty Rose said...

We all can only do what we can. And we are all doing the best we can. And the battles are enormous. And special education issues are becoming more and more complex and less and less transparent.
I say, do what you can and know it is a nobel effort.
I am in the throes of advocating for a kiddo whose mother is so beaten down I don't know how she gets up each morning.
I cannot save the world, and probably not even this kid, but I can tag this mom out for a bit so she can stay in the fight for her kid.
PO- thanks for doing what you did and continuing your relationship with this kid and his mom. Nobel, indeed, whether you ever attend another IEP or not.

joycemocha said...

PO, as a sped teacher, I'd have you in my IEP meetings any day. Better to have a strong advocate like you than someone who doesn't care.

Also, I don't know if the rules are different from state to state, but in my state, we *have* to have a general ed teacher involved with the IEP. Right now I'm bringing in the new teacher as much as possible, except when I need the veterans to chime in. I want to get this guy broke in right, as he never got to participate when he was at the high school.

I love it when the gen ed teacher suggests goals or accommodations. I don't always know the best thing to do in content areas, so any help is welcome.