Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Betsy DeVos

In the interest of trying to remain as objective on this subject I did some research. I have worked as a recruiter in the past, there are several aspects to recruitment and job descriptions, the one aspect I wanted to research was "Qualifications" or "Requirements. What exactly determines someone is qualified for a position? What separates them from other candidates? What are the minimum requirements for a job? All I could find for the Secretary of Education was a broad description of duties, no minimum job requirements. Interesting. I will admit in the interest of time, I have gotten the majority of my background information from Wikipedia, if you feel that I need to dig deeper, please advise, he is the link listing prior secretaries leading to their various backgrounds.


I asked myself, what would I do if I was asked to recruit for a position, how would I define minimum requirements for the job if there was no previous documentation? My answer is to look at the past individuals that have held the position and draw my information from there. There were some similarities which I could I would put as minimum requirements, some would or should be preferred. One is that everyone had a Bachelors degree, however only two had Master's degrees as well as two held Doctorate degrees as well, and the acting Secretary prior to inauguration day had a Bachelor's degree, a Master's degree, and a Juris Doctorate. All the prior Secretaries held degrees in one or more of the following subjects: Political Science, Government, and Sociology from well known universities. Betsy DeVoss holds a Bachelor's degree in  Business Administration and Political science from Calvin College, I have never heard of it, I am not sure what their academic standings are in relation to the degrees that some of her predecessors held from Harvard, Yale, University of Houston, and University of Indiana Bloomington.

What also struck me is that all prior secretaries held positions working with education in the public sector, as well as having either founded publically funded charter schools or having worked as their administrators. Betsy DeVos has not, she has been involved in political action groups and foundations in the education sector, but it appears she has not been directly involved in the administration of a school either pubic or charter, and has never worked in a position at any level involved in government or education other than working with private foundations and political action committees, in fact I could not find information that looks like she has served in the public sector at all, which in looking at past Secretaries, should appear to be a job requirement. That in and of itself should disqualify her.

Ok, that's my impartial view, on to my more opinionated one. She wants to open up public education to privatization, looking back historically, really, how often does that work well? Does she have a model or any objective information on how that would be beneficial? Not that I have seen. Let's face it, I highly doubt there are going to be a lot of private schools opening up in lower income neighborhoods to benefit those children. What makes her think a private school would do a better job  with public funds? If you funded a public school with the amount of dollars that private schools get per student, I'm sure that school would also improve too.

I can't really argue against choice of schools, for us it has been a life saver to be able to send my son out of district to another public school. If we had been able to have my son's needs met we would have stayed, what I had found shocking was their lack of accountability in the district, and I would have to ask myself how much worse will it be for parents like us if she is appointed?

We did look at private schools, a couple had a focus on kids with disabilities, one of the biggest deterrents for me in going that route was that we were advised  my son's IEP would be invalid, private schools are not held to the same standards for disabled students that public schools are. They are under no legal obligation to accommodate or compensate for his needs at all. Not to say they won't but they are under no legal obligation to do so, and there is little to no recourse if they do not. Privatization would definitely not serve well for children with challenges, and isn't the Department of Education required to serve everyone? I was also unsettled by her repeatedly answering that she would let "the States" make decisions on a variety of topics, which is really not what she would be appointed to do, her position would supposedly require certain decisions be made, not let the states do it for her.

Let's also mention the fact that some of the largest teacher's unions and organizations oppose her quite strongly, these are organizations she is supposed to ultimately work with, and they have in the past have successfully pressured Secretaries to resign.

That's it for now, however you feel on this topic, that is my opinion, info on how to call your elected officials to express your opinion are in a link provided in the prior post.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Want to make some calls???

There's a lot going around about different things and ways to call and make a difference with our elected officials. Below is a link to a good document that gives instructions and pointers.


I'm Back

Whoa, I see it's been awhile since I have posted, things got away from me but in this new era of uncertainty, I feel like I need to start posting again, because I'm pretty sure some politicians will start trying to take away funding and services again so I will.

Things have changed here as well, after much debate, arguing and banging my head against the wall, we decided to place my son in another school outside of Deer Valley School District. It was not an easy decision on our part, we did everything we could, including going to a school board meeting and speaking out about the lack of services and letting them know about their reputation in the Special Needs Community as being one of the worst districts to deal with. THAT did not even precipitate many changes for my son.

So, I, after some research, I found another school (I do not want to give the details in this public forum, nor do I want someone to be able to identify who he is). I had a couple of last straws, one being my son coming home from school, banging his head on the wall telling me he hated himself and he thought he was stupid on a continual basis, the other was him being continually assaulted by another student that was bullying him. My meeting with the principal did not go well, she looked at me and stated that she didn't want to use the term "Bullying" when discussing this situation, to which my reply was "Okay, how about we use the terms assault and negligence on your part?"

She then told me the aggressor was another special needs student to which I replied that she failed them both for both of them being in a situation in which one of them could be harmed. I asked her to explain to me how she thought it was beneficial and healthy for the other student to be in a situation in which he was able to harm another student if he could not control himself. I asked how would she feel if she was put in a situation in which she was going hurt someone and could not stop herself, what kind of stress would she be under, and what that would do to her self worth. Her reply? "I didn't think about it that way" For me, I just can't reconcile keeping my son in a place where someone in authority does not "think" that way.

It reminded me of a phrase that I saw online it's like "Playing chess with pigeons, no matter how good you are at chess, the pigeon is just going to knock over all the pieces, crap on the board, and then strut around acting like it won"

The good news is my son is in a much better place now, it took us awhile to work out a new IEP because the other one was so poorly written, executed and had little to no documentation. There were goals that were written when he was in kindergarten that had not been updated at all.

What we found is that in fact my son is a gifted learner (this was figured out in a week, as opposed to the old school whom never even noticed that this was a possibility), and while he doesn't test well on gifted placement exams, that is how he functions, we now have the documentation to prove it, and a terrific school that is willing to work with him on his level to address his needs. He excels in school work, and is performing 2 years above his grade level. He is happy, and has not once stated that he thinks he is stupid anymore. He scores extremely high on his AIMS test, according to their graph, he outscored most of the kiddos in his district, at times I have been tempted to send his old district a copy of his scores and tell them to "suck it", but I have refrained. He has been at this school for three years now.

As far as DDD goes, services for us have been a challenge with timing and the distances we have to travel to and from his school, but thankfully there has been no effort to reduce them.

So far, so good, I will do research on some of the political stuff coming out, I'll try to be as objective as I can.