Archives for category: Special Education

Nancy Bailey reports that special education is in jeopardy in Seattle.

 

She writes:

 

You can’t put your guard down. Rest assured the wheels of ugly education reform continue to churn. Here is a recent Seattle Times headline, “Special Education is Ineffective and too Expensive, Report Says.”

 

Why? Well, students with special needs, 54 percent to be exact, aren’t managing to get their diplomas on time. They also aren’t going on to college as much as their non-disabled peers. They fail to always reach their NCLB goals on their IEPs. Students with emotional disabilities, I’m guessing with no real SPED services, are getting suspended 2 to 3 times more often than the students without disabilities. Second language students aren’t being served well, and parents have become concerned that their students won’t be employable.

 

I would argue that the reforms that have taken place since the reauthorizations that formed IDEA, along with NCLB and RTTT, have not been in the best interest of students with special needs across the country. The harsh budget cuts haven’t helped either.

 

But instead of fixing the problems in Seattle, and without reassessing the terrible reforms that have been foisted on schools and students with disabilities for the last 20 years or more, this is what the rubber stamped Blue Ribbon Commission Report from the Governor’s office, came up with:

 

The evidence is clear that disabilities do not cause disparate outcomes, but that the system itself perpetuates limitations in expectations and false belief systems about who children with disabilities can be and how much they can achieve in their lifetime.

 

“System,” of course, implies teachers. Hey, you teachers quit sitting around painting your nails and raise those expectations! And while you are at it—embrace Common Core! Why doesn’t the news say what they all really mean?

 

And this is how the Seattle Times puts it:

 

But the vast majority of children in special education do not have disabilities that prevent them from tackling the same rigorous academic subjects as general education students if they get the proper support, so those low numbers reflect shortcomings in the system, not the students.

 

And where does this all come from? What revolutionary research study have we missed? Arne Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education!

 

You see, with higher expectations and plenty of rigor, most if not all of the students with disabilities can achieve excellent results. And that is where the Common Core comes in: Rigor for all. No exceptions, no excuses.

Katie Osgood is a special education teacher in Chicago who has worked for years with children in high need. She has been critical of Teach for America on her blog for sending inexperienced recruits to work in schools with vulnerable students who should have experienced teachers.

She wrote a comment on this blog today about TFA’s leaked memo on how to respond to critics:

“In TFA’s memo, they cite me BY NAME, as a “known detractor”. So, apparently your tax dollars are also going to spying and unsuccessfully debunking tweets/blog posts from a simple special education teacher in Chicago. I have no media team or PR strategy, I’m just writing the truth of TFA and its devastating impact on my city. I am pretty upset how TFA has singled me out and targeted me. I feel violated and even unsafe given the vast power and resources TFA has at its disposal.”

This is very sad. It was written in response to this post. This is a report on the technocratic data collection about preschool readiness of children with disabilities 0-3. There is not a whiff of humanity in this data collection. What are they thinking in the Tennessee State Department of Education? Does any of this help children? Is it part of Race to the Top? What is the point? What benefit to the children? What am I missing? A reader writes: “Tennessee has been using this measure for 4 years. (I am in no way condoning this) Target Data and Actual Data for FFY 2012-13: FFY 2012-13 was the third full year in which Early Childhood Outcomes (ECO) data (entrance and exit) were collected from all nine TEIS Point of Entry offices (TEIS-POEs). Since FFY 2010, ECO data have been collected in the Tennessee Early Intervention Data System (TEIDS) based upon the seven-point scale of the ECO Child Outcomes Summary Form (COSF). The Lead Agency calculates and reports only on children that have been in TEIS a minimum of 6 months (defined as 183 calendar days between entry [ECO entrance date] and exit [ECO exit date]). Outcome entrance ratings are made by the IFSP team using assessment/evaluation, eligibility, and parent information at the initial IFSP meeting. Statewide, assessment/evaluation information is obtained from the Battelle Developmental Inventory-2 (BDI-2). Outcome exit ratings are made by the IFSP team at a review change or transition meeting for children who have been in early intervention services for a minimum of 6 months prior to exit or at three years of age. Exit data from Part C are utilized by several Local Education Agencies (LEAs) as entry data for children who are determined eligible for Part B, preschool special education services. http://www.tn.gov/education/early_learning/doc/TN_PartC_APR_FFY_2012-13.pdf

In response to an earlier post about the U.S. Department of Education setting “measurable and rigorous targets” for children with disabilities, ages 0-3, Laura H. Chapman writes:

“This is nothing more than an extension of the Data Quality campaign that Bill Gates has funded since 2005 along with USDE– initially limited to Pre-K through college, but now clearly starting at birth, and likely in a race to get as much data into “the cloud” on each cohort of kids ASAP along with some hard-wired policies such as do this or we will gut the health and human services funding and IDEA funding for your state.

“Comply or else.

“Of course, closing the achievement gap will be easy enough if you just demand more of the parents and hand over all of the “evidence-based interventions” to instant experts. They will have conjured all of the necessary and sufficient measures for ratings of “infant and toddler and parent effectiveness.”

“Don’t forget checklists for observation, with rubrics for properly identifying all-purpose and specialized remedies for every condition, Instant experts on “disabilities” are sure to be ready (for a fee) to share their power points and modules for corrective action.

“Let’s see, let’s have some infant and toddler SLOs with targets to reach every three months, so quarterly reports can be filed at the state level. Or some VAM calculations with grand inferential leaps from scores on cognitive function, locomotion, eye-hand coordination, new scores for versions of the old Piaget experiments. Add some body sensors to pick up rigorous data on pee and poop and tantrum control, a measure of infant and toddler grit in retaining gas or vomit.

“Perhaps the real aim is to privatize the US Census, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, etc., etc., etc.

“I think that Arne Duncan and Bill Gates have never been in the presence of infants and toddlers and adults who are struggling to make sense out of the booming buzzing confusion that marks you as alive and human and doing your best even if you are not blessed from birth with “the right stuff,” plenty of money and connections with people who give you a bunch of tax dollars and discretionary authority to spend these at will..

“I hope the over-reach on this idiotic plan makes big news.

“My fear is that it will not.”

This comment from a reader in response to a post about “pre-school readiness” for children 0-3 with special needs, with “measurable and rigorous targets.”

The reader writes:

“I spent 19 years in infant special education- even before we even called it early intervention, I was teaching children in the 0-3 age range. Yes- I visited mothers the week their babies came home from the hospital because because they sought and wanted that support. I was in that first group of teachers in the nation earning a MS Ed in Early Childhood Special Education right after the passage of PL 94-142. My program was home-based and holistic- the goal was to help the parent(s) understand how their child’s medical condition/syndrome/extreme prematurity/ brain damage/sensory disorder impacts development, and to help that parent care for the baby’s physical, sensory, cognitive and social needs.

“I went to homes twice a week where there was no heat, no food security, overcrowding, broken windows, little furniture or toys, vermin infestation, poor lighting and broken cribs. And sometimes also there was abuse and domestic violence. I also went to homes with maids and luxury cars- any everything in between. My expertise and support made a difference for those families- but how much more of a long term difference would there be if all the children had prenatal care, safe and secure shelter, food security and access to needed medical and dental care?

“As a teacher, my job was to help the child and parent move from one step to the next developmental step, and celebrate each milestone, whenever it came, with joy. It was about attunement, attachment, engagement and play- not testing, pressure and grit. That is how babies learn- though touch and interaction and play. My job was to help the parent see a child as lovable and capable which might sound unnecessary, but learning that your child has a significant problem is a crushing blow to many parents- it is traumatic, it is a shock, and a nightmare. But yes. I recorded new milestones on a checklist of developmental skills to help the parent understand and delight in the sequence of skills as they developed- not to quantify and get a “score.”

“Rigor? Does Duncan realize we are talking about babies with poor oral-motor tone learning how to suck on a nipple? Or a baby having hundreds of seizures a day learning how to make eye contact with her mother? Or a baby with cerebral palsy lifting his head to see himself in a mirror? What Duncan is proposing is clueless, but also despicable and sinister. Is there anything in this world he cannot reduce to a data point? Grief? Laughter? Love? Acceptance? Health? Comfort? Pride? What is YOUR score Mr. Duncan?”

Reader JCGrim wonders when the testing mania will end. It will end when enough parents band together and demand it. When they say they will not allow their children of every age to be subjected to hours of testing. When they opt out en masse. When enough parents say loudly, “Stop! Enough!”

Grim writes:

“If you think Arne couldn’t be any more incompetent, think again. His newest absurdity is special education’s birth to 3yrs early intervention programs.

“According to IDEA, every state must have an early intervention system that serves children with disabilities from birth to age 3 yrs. (public school takes over services for kiddos with disabilities at age 3yrs.) The feds are requiring state systematic improvement plans with “measurable & rigorous targets.”

“TN’s early intervention system (TEIS) must provide “measurable and rigorous results” for infants & toddlers with disabilities & their families. The data must show that early intervention is “closing the achievement gap” and provide the percent of infants & toddlers who are “preschool ready.”

“You read that right “preschool ready.” What does that even mean? Preschool is where kids get their first ever experiences away from their caregivers. Preschool is the first time kids find out they can smear paint on their hands & paper, play with other kids by sifting through a big bin of rice, dance in big circle with a partner, chase butterflies in a butterfly tent, or turn pudding in plastic ziplocs into a snack.

“When will this insanity end? Enough is enough.”

In this post, Daniel Katz, director of secondary education and secondary special education teacher preparation at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, interviews Mindy Rosier about what it is like to work in a public school that shares the same building with one of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charter schools. Rosier is a teacher at PS 811, the Mickey Mantle School, which serves children with special needs. PS 811 is situated within PS 149 in Harlem, a traditional public school; it serves about 100 children with autism and other special needs. The Success Academy charter school was co-located inside PS 149 in 2006. What is it like to co-exist with SA?

 

Here is a sample:

 

“There is definitely an us vs. them feeling in the air. I’ve been told that they have shiny clean floors, new doors, fancy bathrooms, etc. Meanwhile, we have teachers who have bought mops and even a vacuum cleaner to clean their rooms for they feel what is done is not efficient enough. Near our entrance, we have an adult bathroom. It is for staff and our parents. Success Academy parents as well have used it. For many months that bathroom went out of order. Honestly, I am not even sure it is fixed yet, but after all this time, I really hope so. So we would have to either use the closet of a bathroom in the staff lunch area or use one of the kids’ bathroom when it is not in use. You and I know that had that been an SA bathroom, it would have been fixed by the next day. SA also throws out tons of new or practically new materials often. At first, some of their teachers would sneak us some materials thinking we could benefit from it. They stopped out of fear. With all the great stuff that they have thrown out, they got angry when they found out that teachers from P.S.149 and I believe some of our teachers too would go through the piles and take what we could use. Well, now they only throw out their garbage shortly before pick up so that no one could get at it. Nice, right?”

The New York City Parents Blog compiled the many complaints of parents and teachers about Daniel Bergner’s article about Eva Moskowitz. Bergner interviewed many critics, but he quoted only two: me and Michael Mulgrew of the UFT.

Unlike the magazine article, the post explains that the main reason Mayor de Blasio rejected Moskowitz’s efforts to expand within PS 149 was that it would cause the displacement of children with special needs, some of whom are severely disabled. It was ironic that the $5-6 million TV ad campaign that Eva’s Wall Street backers ran on her behalf last spring claimed that the Mayor was forcing SA children out of their schools by denying them space, when the reverse was true: Moskowitz wanted to increase the size of her school at the expense of children with disabilities.

The ad campaign paid off for Moskowitz. Many of the same Wall Street tycoons who backed Eva also funded Cuomo’s campaign, so of course Cuomo supported Eva and cut the ground out from under the Mayor’s feet, with the help of the legislature. Eva got free rent, the right to expand in public space, and other privileges. But this was not what you saw in the New York Times article.

Beverley Holden Johns, a nationally recognized expert in the field of disabilities, strongly disagrees with Arne Duncan. Duncan wants children with disabilities to be able to perform on the highest level of NAEP tests. She points out that NAEP was not designed for this purpose. Duncan unilaterally changed the requirements of the IDEA act, without Congressional authorization. Having changed NCLB without Congressional authorization, he must think that ignoring the law is routine. In Néw York, we learned how students with disabilities do when they took the Common Core test: 95% failed.

Beverley Holden Johns writes:

————————–
NCLB required all students to be proficient on State tests by 2014.

Failure of the public schools to reach that goal has been widely
viewed as the failure of public education, requiring movement
to Charter Schools and even increasing the talk of Vouchers in the name of Choice.

Now Arne Duncan seeks to require ALL students with disabilities to
demonstrate proficiency or advanced mastery of challenging
subject matter on the NAEP tests?

As this is impossible (students without disabilities do not
come close to doing it and are making very little progress
toward meeting that goal), what will be the impact on special ed?

Special education will be deemed to be an utter failure, and
some will urge Response to Intervention, RTI, often called MTSS,
and Full Inclusion for all (although there is no evidence that will
cause students to meet the NAEP goal).

What is wrong with using NAEP?

(1) National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, was not designed for any such purpose, or validated for any such purpose.

(2) NAEP is given at only a few schools in each State to get
a sample of how the State is doing in the 4th and 8th grades
in math and reading every 2 years.

NAEP makes no pretense of testing all children or all schools.

So NAEP offers no accountability whatsoever at the vast majority
of schools in each State.

(3) There have been consistent problems on whether students
with disabilities even take the NAEP, and on whether the NAEP
tests will offer accommodations for students with disabilities
(on which each State has made tremendously varying decisions).

So the percentage of students with disabilities in each State
taking the NAEP varies tremendously from State to State
(making State to State comparisons totally invalid).

(4) NAEP is not aligned with the Common Core so it does
not reflect what may be taught in the classroom.

What does Arne Duncan state that the goal of special ed Results Driven Accountability is?

“While the goal is to ensure that ALL Children with
Disabilities demonstrate proficient or advanced mastery
of challenging subject matter, we recognize that States
may need to take intermediate steps to reach this benchmark.”
(emphasis added)

Please see footnote 7 at

http://www2.ed.gov/fund/data/report/idea/partbspap/2014/2014_part_b_htdmd.pdf

Can anyone provide a complete description of this accountability
system that parents and educators can understand?

On August 4, 2014, all 8 Republicans on the U.S. Senate
education committee in a 3 page letter asked Arne Duncan
detailed questions about this special ed Results Driven Accountability:

“It is troubling that the department made unilateral changes
to the [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act] compliance
framework without seeking legislative approval, disregarded
congressional intent, and appears to have violated the clear letter of the law.”

“The changes spelled out in your ‘Results-Driven Accountability’
framework clearly amount to federal influence on the standards
and assessments states and school districts use to direct the
education program of students with disabilities and would give
the federal government authority to use students proficiency as
measured by the NAEP to evaluate and either reward or
sanction school districts.”

No Child Left Behind, the joint product of George W. Bush and
Ted Kennedy, has positives and negatives, but overall it has
been a disaster for the public schools because it had unrealistic
and utopian goals.

We cannot allow special ed Results Driven Accountability
to be a similar disaster.

Bev Johns

NEWS

From the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Thomas P. DiNapoli

Contact: Mark Johnson, 518-474-4015
For release: Immediately, Sept. 4, 2014

DiNAPOLI: SPECIAL EDUCATION CONTRACTOR CONVICTED FOR $2 MILLION FRAUD

The former owner of a Queens-based special education provider, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges earlier this year following a joint investigation by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara, was sentenced today to 24 months incarceration and ordered to pay $2,151,318 in restitution and forfeit another $1,924,318.

“Cheon Park enriched himself and deprived children with physical, developmental and emotional disabilities of the help they need,” DiNapoli said. “His conviction today stands as a warning for those who attempt to cheat taxpayers and instead use the money for their personal benefit. I’d like to thank U.S. Attorney Bharara for prosecuting this crime and working with my staff to bring Park to justice and recover stolen taxpayer money.”

In July 2012, DiNapoli’s office issued an audit of Bilingual SEIT & Preschool Inc. that found Park inappropriately charged New York City’s Department of Education for salaries, vehicle leases and items such as cosmetics and children’s furniture. There were also a number of questionable issues related to staff salaries. For a copy of the audit, visit:

http://osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093012/11s13.pdf.

DiNapoli referred the findings to United States Attorney Bharara’s office and worked to prosecute Park and recover the stolen funds. DiNapoli also praised the work of the Special Commissioner of Investigation for New York City’s Department of Education, the Office of Inspector General for the United States Department of Education, and the Queens County District Attorney’s Office for their collaboration in this investigation.

DiNapoli has identified fraud and improper use of taxpayer funds in a recent series of audits and investigations of special education providers, resulting in multiple criminal convictions and the recovery of over $3 million. His office has completed 23 audits of preschool special education providers, finding nearly $23 million in unsupported or inappropriate charges. There are currently 18 additional audits of preschool special education providers in progress.

In December 2013, Governor Cuomo signed legislation – proposed by DiNapoli and sponsored by Sen. John Flanagan and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan – mandating the Comptroller’s Office audit all of the more than 300 preschool special education providers in this $1.4 billion program by March 31, 2018.

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