Courtesy of this week’s Carnival of Education, a post from an anonymous teacher at a blog called Current Education Issues, which makes for uncomfortable reading. After sitting through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting with 15 people to talk about the a single child, he asks, “Does this make sense?”
Are we spending our tax dollars wisely on someone who will at most, according to her doctors, top-out at the mental level of a seven-year-old?” Meanwhile, her parents are pissed off (I don’t know at what) and are having everybody jump through hoops as an added bonus. I don’t know what they expect, but I do know they’re getting to what amounts to day-care for a special needs child for free.
“So who is going to be the heartless bastard who stands up and asks, ‘Is this wrong?’” he concludes. “I guess it’s just me for now.”
Having sat through several of these kinds of meetings, I can vouch for his accuracy in describing the process. I haven’t seen very much discussion of special education practice, cost or accountability in the edublogs, but I’d like to see more–especially about expectations. In my limited experience, IEPs were a joke. I taught in an inclusion class one year and listened to a special ed supervisor instruct my co-teacher to lower promotional criteria to an absurdly low level to ensure students passed. The entire process seemed geared to avoid lawsuits and actually having to educate children. There are doubtless heroic, committed special education teachers who make a difference. But at its worst, it’s educational hospice care with the bar set no higher than getting kids to the end of the day above ground.
And as this blogger points out, maintaining such low expectations ain’t cheap.
What happened to art and music in my school? Gee, I don’t know. How come my students don’t spend more time on a computer? Gee, I wonder. This one child’s education could buy an art, music, or computer teacher for my entire school. What about the other nine kids just like her in that class, What could they buy? I wish we could afford everything. I wish we could give this little girl what she deserves. I wish my students could get what they deserve. But the math doesn’t work out that way, folks. The “pie” is only so big. I understand equal opportunity, and I’m for it up until the point where it no longer makes any sense. I guess I never will understand taking away from most to benefit one. Apparently, I’m in the minority though.