Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Arizona's SB 1317 Special Education Teachers

I was originally made aware of this bill via an article from the New Times. The link to that article is here:


There are so many things wrong with this, I do not even know where to begin.

Basically it states that ANY teacher can provide services and special instruction to ANY special needs student in lieu of a teacher that is certified in Special Education, oh but wait, the Special Education teacher will be able to review what is going on and tell the teacher who is not certified what to do. So basically not only does a classroom teacher have to work with typical students, because, hey we just don't keep them busy enough, let's have them do the Special Education teacher's job too, how could that fail?

I'll tell you how, because this in one form or another was being practiced by Deer Valley Unified School district. They had my son in a typical classroom, and most of his teachers struggled with this very issue. IT DID NOT WORK!

The result? I had one of his teachers look at me and tell me that my son was "normal" with some behavior problems. Can you imagine having to sit and argue with a group of people that your child is not normal? I should not have had to, let's face it, nobody contradicted her, even though we had a stack of documentation a mile high of his medical history and THEIR PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENTS that proved OTHERWISE. She didn't get it, and didn't want to, I don't blame her really, it's their screwed up system that put us both in that position in the first place, she just wanted to teach, and it was quite obvious that she was not willing or able to accommodate him. To be honest, he was not placed appropriately,  and it was damaging for them both. They set us up to fail, who knows whether or not it was deliberate or intentional, the results were the same.

I know it sounds like a good model, trying to have special needs children in the classroom with their peers, as parents we are sometimes so desperate for our children to fit in, not to stand out, and feel "normal" but honestly, that is about us as adults, what we want what we need, what looks good, not necessarily what our children need or what is perhaps best for them, but it is easier and cheaper for some school administrators to convince us that by doing this or that, our child has a hope of fitting a mold, and they can save money by not having to pay a better educated specialist for their time. It is wrong.

What is so bad about giving children with Special Needs a space where they function better? What is the problem in them working with someone whom is better equipped intellectually, professionally, and whom has more resources? There isn't one, other than potential costs, it sounds like it would, it sounds like it would be logical, but I challenge you or anybody to show me some EMPERICAL, OBJECTIVE evidence, studies, assessments, numbers, something that backs this up, not just because it sounds like a good idea.

Yes, our children have a right to an education, why do we assume that translates to our children having to be placed in a classroom with their peers? What does one have to do with the other?

I would like to also address some commentary made by  Deer Valley Unified School District special-ed administrator Denise Lowell-Britt. It wasn't very clear, but she apparently used some sort of weird medical analogy, like if your PCP sees you have a cardiac problem, they send you to a cardiologist, and then they coordinate treatment or something and you stick with your PCP for everything else unless he needs advice from the Cardiologist. If you have had or known anyone that has had to go see a specialist for any known medical problem, you know that THIS IS NOT HOW IT WORKS!

I'll keep running with this analogy, as someone who has had family members with cardiac problems and as a former Social Worker that had patients with cardiac problems. When you develop a cardiac problem, you go to a Cardiologist who does an assessment and then if you have a problem or issues, they decide on a course of treatment and then THEY FOLLOW YOU personally, they set appointments for you in their office, they arrange for tests, they prescribe medications, they do NOT send you back to the PCP with a list of instructions on how to treat your heart condition and expect them to follow it, or check in with them every once in awhile, or supervise what they are doing making suggestions. In fact if you have a problem, you will see the Cardiologist more often than you see your PCP. The only time they send you back to the PCP is if there is NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU from their perspective.

This type of commentary is not improving the reputation of the Deer Valley School District, they still have the reputation of being one of the worst places for special needs students to be. This commentary shows a lack of empathy for the students, and a general dysfunctional attitude that is pervasive in their system, I experienced it with my son, and I am sad to see that not much has changed since we transferred him to another district, where by the way, he became much more functional and successful because they were willing to meet his needs, not trying to get him to conform to theirs.

Unfortunately I believe this type of legislation will encourage others to do the same.  

I'll make some phone calls tomorrow and see where that goes.

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