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An Oakland parent on OUSD’s special education proposal

Stacey Smith is an Oakland school district parent and volunteer who has served on the District GATE Advisory Committee, the school board’s Special Committee on School Based Management, and the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education. I invited her to contribute periodically to The Education Report; any topic she writes about — including the below piece – does not reflect the view of any group. — Katy

I’m trying to understand the June 12 memo from outgoing Special Education Director Sharon Casanares to Oakland school district program specialists that eliminates their jobs as of June 29 and lays out over $4 million dollars of staffing and program cuts for special education in Oakland — cuts that may severely impact the support special education teachers and over 5,000 special education students receive.

According to the memo, personnel costs make up the bulk of the department’s budget so the majority of reductions are in that area. The number one criterion used to make cuts was to “make changes that will have the least impact on students in classrooms.” Substantial cuts are proposed in several key areas:

Staffing: The district eliminated all of the program specialists with plans to refill about nine of the positions in the fall under new job descriptions. Program specialists are credentialed, experienced special educators who supervise, mentor, train and support special education teachers. They also coordinate specialized services students need, like occupational therapy, assistive technology, and the Reading Clinic. The program specialists play a critical role to ensure students’ individual needs are being met and to help the district comply with special education legal requirements. Other planned staff cuts include one office manager, two coordinators, and most of one psychologist position.

The district also plans to effectively eliminate several special education teacher, instructional aide, and intervention specialist positions by not filling positions after people retire, resign, or take temporary leave. Instructional aides support resource specialists and special day class teachers and intervention specialists, who often have specialized training, can be found supporting students with autism spectrum disorders or behavioral disorders on an individual or small group basis. The district also plans to hire fewer substitutes for teachers and aides, which would potentially leave students without the educational support they need and also cause safety and compliance issues for OUSD.

Fewer, Larger Classes: The district wants to reduce the number of special education classes and increase the number of students in each class. This move comes less than two weeks after Director Casanares touted the 2011-12 accomplishment of offering a continuum of special education programs within each of the school district’s three regions to improve services to students in response to community demand.

The caseloads for resource specialists would increase to 28 students — the maximum allowed by law, but not a true indicator of the caseload a teacher can effectively carry given the different levels of support required. This change would reduce the amount of time a special education teacher can spend with a student providing the specialized instruction that they cannot receive in the general education program and that they need in order to make progress in school.

Supply and Contract Cuts: Finally, the district plans to cut the budget for materials and supplies, potentially limiting student access to learning and also possibly violating education code which requires instructional materials to be provided. Cuts are also proposed in contract costs for transportation and therapy.

OUSD describes “Community Schools, Thriving Students” as an obligation “to work in partnership with the community to develop students who are thriving academically and socially. … We expect our children to succeed, but it is only by providing the conditions necessary for high-levels of teaching and learning (academic, social and emotional) that we can we achieve this result.”

Maybe that explains the shock parents and teachers seem to be feeling over these new cuts. Has OUSD really decided that these cuts create the conditions necessary for high-levels of teaching and learning for special education students? As of this writing, I have not received any response from the district, but I will let Katy know as soon as I do.

The issue is complicated by a lack of transparency in the special education budgeting process and conflicting data from Oakland about its budget plans for special education. (Warning: Number geeks keep reading but all others skip to the next paragraph!) When Deputy Superintendent of Business Services and Operations Vernon Hal presented the 2012-13 budget to the board this month, he reported $85.7 million in special education costs and about $3 million dollars of cuts next year—most to be obtained by cutting transportation costs by $2.4 million.

Director Casanares’ internal memo pegs the cost of the “2012-13 proposed reorganization” at $63.5 million, projected revenues of $59.1 million, and orders to cut costs by about $4.3 million. As I just mentioned, the majority of cuts target staffing reductions. There are no individual dollar figures listed for the cuts in the Casanares memo. On June 27, the board of education will consider approval of the special education 2012-13 budget (a.k.a. SELPA Budget and Service Plan) that lists $74 million in both revenues and expenses and provides expenses in a state-mandated reporting format.

Personally, I think the board should hold off on approval of any budget until the district can explain the discrepancies, the reasoning behind the cutback decisions, and the true impact of the cuts. OUSD has decided after this past year of budget review that it wants to have “a program-based, prioritized budgeting process for all of our schools and departments. Instead of focusing on how and where to cut our budget, we need to focus our efforts on building and maintaining effective programs, and prioritize our strategic actions to ensure we are using our resources effectively and prudently. Our goal is to ensure that our budgeting choices are about investments in Oakland students, and not reactive to fiscal instability.” Looking at the conflicting proposed budgets it is hard to see how this orderly, program-based planning process is working. Much key information is missing in the budget documents.

Where is the 15 percent of special education funding that the state currently requires OUSD to spend on general education programs to reduce the disproportionate number of Native American and African American children in special education? How will these reductions enable the district to reduce compliance complaints and improve relationships with families – two major strategic goals? How much will the District spending on compliance complaints and legal costs? Who ordered $4 million in cuts and why? Will school sites be expected to pick up the expense of teachers, aides, substitutes and materials? Why did the district fire all of the program specialists and not leave a few positions in place to help with the transition to a new special education director and into a new school year? Program specialists are the ones who help transition students and teachers into new school years, so who will be taking on that complicated task? Finally how will these cuts improve educational outcomes for some our lowest achieving, most at-risk students?

Both the OEA and the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education (CAC) recently sent out community alerts about the program specialist layoffs and the $4 million dollar cuts.

CAC Co-Chair Cintya Molina explains, “We are battling for the very survival of the Special Education structures that support our children. The eliminations and consolidations that accompany these most recent cuts are without precedent and will seriously hurt our children … It is time for bold leadership and action from all of us who truly believe in educational equity for children with special needs.”

A CAC-sponsored emergency meeting is planned for 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Family Resource Network (5232 Claremont Blvd.) to organize a community protest at the June 27 board meeting.

I recently blogged about how students with disabilities are among the lowest achieving students in the Oakland Unified School District and among the least likely to graduate. These students can achieve and succeed with the right supports. It’s hard to see how these cuts will enable the district to provide the kinds of supports that will lead to success.

Budget cuts for special education

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • anon

    Well written and as an SDC teacher, I am in total agreement. I am still trying to figure out how they think this is in the best interest for students and students in particular who are achieving very low in comparison to their peers.

    Please continue to reach out to the school board, colleagues and district staff to protest these cuts.

  • Special Education Parent

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

    This sums up our current emergency. We must face it and come out at the other end with a renewed commitment to the development of ALL children.

    After the dust settles on this most recent crisis and even if this budget proposal is rejected, we still have much left to build so that our children can really thrive.

  • Special Education Parent

    Please sign the petition to oppose the cuts and protect Special Education in OUSD.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/ousd-school-board-oppose-drastic-cuts-to-the-2012-2013-special-education-budget

  • Frustrated Parent

    What happened to accountability? to transparency? to doing the right thing? Well, it doesn’t happen in Oakland.

    Frustrated Parent

  • Nextset

    Severe budget cuts are coming. You cannot have it all and take care of the third world as well as everybody else in CA who doesn’t work – and their kids. What is it, a third of welfare recipients are in CA? And the NAtional Democrats think they can impose amnesty on us too (just where do you think the illegals want to go and apply for welfare/pell grants/jobs etc)?

    The posters here who object to the cuts are objecting in principle. They don’t propose where the cuts should come from instead. That is no objection at all.

    So we blog.

    Public Education is doomed just as public health is. The state cannot print money and give it away forever – although Greece and Spain think so. We made our choices with open borders and unbridled free trade. Once that choice was made it’s a one way ride to third world living conditions. And that includes no county hospitals and no public schooling of the type we had in the ’60s. It’s just gone.

    I have little doubt that some federal government will, in the name of re-election, give you what you want and print unlimited amounts of currency for everything on the wish list (restoration of such cuts as these). When that happens you will have superinflation. And governments/societies fall when that happens. Not just the party in office, the nation itself. So keep saying you want your services with no corresponding cuts or tax increases. Someone will give it to you.

    But Jerry Brown can’t because CA doesn’t print money. Those tax increases on the Nov ballot will likely fail. And even if they pass, no tax increases will ever be enough to satisfy CA’s welfare state.

    We are living in interesting times.

    Brave New World!

  • J.R.

    Nextset,
    People are failing to see the pattern, these tax revenue shortfalls will not be fixed because our debt burden is increasing exponentially(one of the few things we have plenty of in California, along with welfare recipients).

    http://reason.com/blog/2012/04/16/nothing-left-to-cut-california-spends-20

    http://californiawatch.org/public-safety/overtime-pay-soars-state-run-police-force-16067

    http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_20249771/daniel-borenstein-public-pension-fund-assumptions-put-future

    http://www.cagw.org/

    There is a very good reason why California is on the edge of a financial cliff, but no one wants to solve the problem because votes are important and anyone over 18 who is not a criminal can vote. It is a double edged sword for sure, and we are cutting our own throats.

  • Steve Asztalos

    A wonderful expose of a truly appalling process (or lack thereof) – the hypocrisy is beyond comprehension. We will not permit this to stand.

    Steve Asztalos
    Proud parent of Cory

  • For Life

    Nextset:

    You sound like a proud citizen of the Brave New World.

    Personally, I am glad that your online persona exists. It reminds me of the kind of thinking against which I struggle. Part of me wants to believe that you created this persona for exactly that purpose.

    I do share your analysis of how dire things are.

    Yet, as one of the “undesirables, dulls, proletariats, choose the label” that you constantly speak about, I will never share your posture about what we should do. It demands that I, my loved oves, and my communities embrace our suffering and subordination.

    Turn your focus on the “undesirables” at the top that control the resources and maybe we’ll get somewhere.

    Otherwise, you are just their agent.

    Though since you sound like a devout believer in the Bell Curve, I am just dim-witted and consigned to evolutionary oblivion. I shouldn’t even be writing, let alone engaging in dialogue with a real person like you.

    I will return to working for survival and transformation.

    My brief appearance on this blog to respond to you will be my last.

    For Life

  • EffectsofReform

    And what will the effect of these cuts be? Well, one might imagine that there will be litigation, etc., but parents will also leave the District b/c of the inequitable treatment of their children. Then, guess what? OUSD might, just might, get an uptick in scores. And really, isn’t that what Dr. Smith and his ilk really value and need in order to “turn around” Oakland schools? Isn’t that the “community” that they’d most like to attract? “Community schools”–making sure that you serve the top 50% of score earners by subtly driving out the bottom 15% with high needs. A market-based solution for “creating community.” Couple this with the closing of high need campuses in the flatlands and you’ve got a recipe for “achievement.” C’mon. Why can’t we use some of these “savings” to buy out the Supe’s contract, pay his moving expenses, and get him out of our orbit before he does more damage to the most vulnerable families and kids.

  • Nextset

    For Life: It’s fun exchanging ideas and thoughts, isn’t it?

    You seem to be down on yourself. You should get help for that. Despite all the problems people have with making it in the Brave New World I see too many people in their mid to late 20s doing really well despite being from Foster Homes or immigrating with the clothes on their back. Funny, I’ve noticed this pattern all my life in CA. Immigrants from Hungary, Eastern Europe, Mexico and the Philippines coming here, getting educated and getting relatively rich. Black folks too, just in small numbers.

    If you have problems that’s your fault. If you won’t take swimming lessons and get with it there’s something wrong with you personally. You should try to change that.

    What I just said needs to be said to the OUSD students especially the at-risk and drop-out candidates. It should be said a lot. And it would help to have them reading rags to riches bios and meeting with class speakers who have made it in industry and commerce.

    Yes it’s the Brave New World – and there is a whole lot of room for smart and dulls to do really well.

    Don’t be a loser anymore. Change.

  • make it go away

    Ahh – isn’t this related to the previous story you ran Katy about the “accounting” error made by Special Ed.and somebody ordering someone to cut costs as a result? Here is the previous story…

    “A coding error in the special education budget. As I understand it, a stream of one-time funds expired, but money kept flowing to the program afterward, from the district’s general fund. It took awhile for OUSD’s financial services team to catch on, apparently, because someone from special ed had erroneously indicated that the source of those continued funds was state revenue growth — which didn’t exist — rather than the OUSD general fund.

    The upshot: OUSD is discovering, in late May, that it has $8 million less than it thought. The coding error was about $5.7 million. Add to that $2.2 million in increased transportation costs projected since the last interim financial report and a few smaller ticket items.”

  • Katy Murphy

    Yep, it is related. Although — as an aside — OUSD is saying now that a coding error was not the main culprit in the budget shortfall, but rather a failure to make sure that revenues and expenditures were lining up.

  • Inga

    Regardless of whether or not there was a coding error or simply a failure to match up revenues and expenditures, our population of special needs kids continues to be marginalized, receiving insufficient supports and services. Why not spread this budget shortfall throughout OUSD so that all are impacted equally and minimally?

  • Stephen C.

    Does anyone in OUSD know how many Federal and State laws will be broken when these changes that will result in lack of services for our children occur???? I would like to see some State Authorities come in and find that $8,000,000 and who stole it. No one in this district is ever accountable for “missing money”. I’d call the police and I just might. I definitely will be the FIRST parent filing a lawsuit if my daughter’s class is overloaded( so she can’t get proper services that are in her IEP), does not have a SPED credentialed and experienced Teacher AND a Program Specialist!!!!!! This is unconscienable!!!!!!!
    Can you forward this to Tony Smith, Superintendant? Does he know anything about his and the LAW???

  • Barbara

    As a school-based Resource Specialist (Special Ed teacher), I too am concerned about what changes are in place for next year. I can only hope somehow that Programs for Exceptional Children will find a way to reorganize themselves very quickly, and finds a way to look for long-term, rather than short-term solutions. All of the proposed changes appear to be short-sighted, with what may result in very poor long-term outcomes (both regarding student achievement and increased legal complaints).

    As a Special Ed teacher in OUSD, I wish that those of us who work in the schools were consulted, or at least notified directly of major reorganization and changes to our programs. Many of us have now seen a budget that appears as if our funding is increasing at the same time our programs are being cut. We have also seen a memo that recommends extreme cuts to nearly all programs with direct impact on students, while at the same time says “Make changes that will have the least impact on students in classrooms.” Understandably, we have great concerns. Understandably, parents of these students are trying to protect their children. Are they being alarmist as some people say? It’s hard to sit in judgment of parents in this position.

    If teacher/paraprofessional positions are not filled when vacated (as it states in a recently written directive), it will be difficult to meet student needs. If self-contained classes become larger or worse – split up due to teacher attrition, how does that fit into the district’s five year plan? We have made solid gains the past few years to support continuity of services, so that students in these types of programs don’t have to change schools when they move from grades K-3 to 4-5, as was previously common. If teachers who leave are not replaced, this continuity of programs/services will be lost. That doesn’t even address what happens when high need students are placed in ever-growing class sizes.

    Also of concern is a directive that paraprofessionals who leave will not be replaced. It will be difficult to meet many students’ Individualized Education Plans, who may have those services written explicitly into their plans. In particular, Special Day Classes and Inclusion Programs are at particular risk.

    My final comment is on the loss of all of our program specialists. This will directly affect our IEP compliance, and we will see an increase of compliance complaints, likely to result in even more Non-public agency/school fees. Special Ed receives an ever-growing and changing list of compliance directives, and teachers need program specialists to educate teachers as to the constant changes. As teachers, we do not have the larger lens to know what programs/placements are appropriate for students who need a new program. We also need to have objective review of our programs and our students. We do not know all of the programs available, and cannot take the time away to visit programs to see if they are appropriate for our students. School based teachers do NOT have the opportunity to meet together and present students for review by our peers. That is a big part of the role of the program specialists, and one that we cannot possibly take on. I am extremely concerned about the loss of program knowledge that is likely going out the door come June 30 when their positions are cut. I wish that the school board could talk to sped teachers and find out how important those positions/people really are to our programs.

    Once again, it feels as though special education programs and students are the scapegoat for a failing of general ed budgetary structure. I have a hard time believing that my department actually made these recommendations, as they are so counter to what we know is needed.

    Very shortly, PEC will have a new director named. I can only hope they are a miracle worker, given what they are starting with.

  • Nextset

    The cuts that would affect students in the classrooms the least would be massive cuts and outsourcing of administration.

    Having said that it’s pointless for the district to waste any money trying to change the racial stats of the Special Ed kids. Those stats are driven by demographic differences including physical and biological differences which in no way can be changed by the district.

  • Anon

    Social Darwinism aside, I’m hard pressed to believe that it’s legal to not serve the needs of disabled children, regardless of race.

  • Stacey Smith

    Thanks, folks, for the posts. UPDATE: Director Casanares was unwilling to respond to my original questions; district spokesperson Troy Flint was supposed to respond by Friday but has not. I did also ask for a more detailed budget that hopefully Katy will be able to link to if I get it. One issue I didn’t raise above is something called “maintenance of effort” that seems to penalize districts for cutting special education expenses when the needs of the students haven’t changed. It’s hard to figure out if that comes into play here but it could be of concern. I’m trying to find out more.

    I also found out that the CAC has invited Superintendent Tony Smith, Deputy Supt. Maria Santos and Director Casanares to attend Monday’s emergency CAC meeting to explain the cuts. I’ve been told that union representatives will also be attending. The CAC has also started an online petition for families, friends and community members (http://www.change.org/petitions/ousd-school-board-oppose-drastic-cuts-to-the-2012-2013-special-education-budget) that it hopes to present to the board and OUSD leadership on June 27th. Even if you don’t sign, you should check out the link to read the wide range of reasons over 500 people have signed so far. It’s a cool feature, just follow the link.

  • Anon

    On the petition Stacey mentioned, an interesting point from Katy Franklin of SFUSD:
    “I’m Chair of the SFUSD Community Advisory Committee for Special Education. The changes OUSD are proposing also change the SELPA Local Plan, and, as per Ed Code, no changes may be made to the Local Plan without first involving the CAC in a discussion about those changes. CACs must be shown changes to the Local Plan 30 days BEFORE such changes are presented to the BOE. Has OUSD involved the OUSD CAC in these decisions?”

    Thank you, Katy Murphy, for following through with a more in-depth article on the situation: http://www.insidebayarea.com/education/ci_20912997/deep-cuts-oakland-schools-special-education-programs-made

    I hope you will continue to cover how it all plays out next week, with the CAC emergency meeting and the school board meeting.

  • Stacey Smith

    Still no word from OUSD to my queries but I can tell y’all that the budgets (the total OUSD and the SELPA, aka special education,budgets are up with the board agenda for Wednesday. Two budgets with two different sets of numbers still.

    Also, looks like there is a new Director of Programs for Exceptional Children: Karen Mates. The agenda lists a contract for her for approval for director. Ms. Mates has been working as a consultant the past few months doing an “audit” of special education and her consulting contract (3 mos, $50K, reports to Maria Santos)is also up for approval by the board – odd since she started April 1 but guess that’s finance for you.

  • Turanga_teach

    Can anyone who attended the whole thing please report back on the CAC meeting last night?

  • Kristen Dixon

    Tony Smith came to the April CAC meeting with a breath of concern and understanding. I felt as if we had finally come to a common page and that PEC was safe from the “strategic restructuring” and school closure disaster my family had just endured… and now this! I feel the district is underhanded and full of unaccountable administration that should have been dealt with long ago. Numbers don’t lie (on their own) and therefore the budget is fixable ignorance and stupidity is far harder to correct and overcome. Transparency should be the new Mantra for the district, they close out parents with good ideas due to numerous years of experience and familiarity with the system, not to mention the concern for our children and the bonds that we all share having a child or children with special needs.

  • Kristen Dixon

    Turanga_teach do you have an email or have you been getting emails from CAC? The meeting was very constructive we stayed focused and many valid and insightful things were said and suggestions were made. I can elaborate but right now I am crunched for time. We have a plan for the school board meeting today.

  • Stephen C.

    50,000 to audit the SPED budget?? what did S. Cas. do with the money?
    that 50,000 could have been put toward the Prog. Spec.

  • Anon

    School Board Update: Tony Smith recommended keeping all 4 Program Specialist positions slated for cuts, in spite of Deputy Supt. Santos’s restructuring recommendation. School board voted 4-3 to restore all special ed program funding ($1.75 million), keeping transportation cuts.

  • Special Ed

    Credit where credit is due. Tony Smith did not make the recommendation. He only made a limited admission about the value of the Program Specialists after much community input and Board discussion. Noel Gallo and Alice Spearman were the champions for Children with Special Needs tonight. Noel Gallo’s motion rejected the plan for “re-structuring” and restored the funding for special ed programs. It also maintained current positions and staff. Finally, the motion mandated a comprehensive community process with all stakeholders, including a special study session of the school board.

    This is a very important win for a population of children that has long been neglected in OUSD. The focus on program stability is especially important to children in flatland schools who stand to lose the most.

    We have averted a disaster but should remain vigilant. The way in which this proposal was presented and defended by OUSD administration showed a complete disregard for transparency and community input. It also deeply disrespected very experienced staff who do urgently needed work. We need to grow even stronger as a community.

    Still, we can breathe easier and celebrate at this moment.

  • Special Ed

    The comment above was from “Special Ed parent”

  • Oaklandotter

    Katy,
    Any word when OUSD’s e-comment will be up and running. They had their announcement highlighting it on their web page Tues June 26th. It was pulled from the website’s homepage on the day of the board meeting. I know of several parents who tried to leave e-comment which was highlighted as an option on the School Board calendar page but it went to a broken link.

  • Turanga_teach

    Beautifully said, Special Ed Parent (#26). I was genuinely terrified by what was being presented as both current reality and desired future directions by Deputy Superintendent Santos–the lack of understanding was truly stunning. I am really hopeful that we can move forward from here.

  • Peach

    Congratulations to the well organized and articulate PEC parents and teachers. A fear of sanctions and lawsuits combined with upcoming board elections helped to halt this train wreck. As with any revolution, after the fighting comes the long arduous work.

    Stakeholders must work as allies – aides to the handicapped, instructional assistants, support personnel, PEC teachers, certificated staff, general ed teachers, administrators, parents, community, and students. Many students with IEPs have mild disabilities and are not distinguishable from their school mates, and they and most other students receiving PEC services are capable of contributing to the conversation around their education. To that end:
    1. Each organization/group, especially the Community Advisory Committee, has 2 or 3 co- leaders to mitigate cooptation and divide and conquer tactics
    2. Each group does its homework re. CA Ed Code, federal law, OUSD policies, current PEC programs, etc
    3. Each group researches all approved contracts and vendors for general and special ed that will impact students and staff in 2012-13 and beyond
    4. Each group documents lived experiences of students, parents, and staff to provide data and context for decision making
    5. Stakeholders routinely share information among themselves, including correspondence, meeting notices, documents, data, policy recommendations, and decisions
    6. All groups insist on a list of all PEC programs and classrooms PreK – 15 with locations, staffing and enrollment.

    This administration, like most ed reformers, are masters of meetings, think empty pots with lots of noise but few results. Meeting protocols are used to lessen the appearance of power differentials so that everyone seems to have had input even if there is a foregone conclusion. To overcome time wasting distractions, stakeholder groups can insist on the following –
    1. Shared leadership on all committees (rotate leading meetings, setting agendas, choosing processes and, very importantly, choosing meeting facilitators)
    2. Basic goals for any meetings or activities -
    a. Improved educational opportunities for students
    b. Improved outcomes for students
    c. Examination of short and long term impacts of alternatives and decisions, inc status quo
    3. Sufficient allotted time at the end of each meeting for review of decisions made, actions taken, next steps, responsibilities, agenda & date for next meeting, calendar/timelines
    4. Shared responsibility to disseminate decisions, meeting calendars, and agendas

    To further success

  • Special Ed

    Thanks Peach for the thoughtful recommendations. I have been at the receiving end of engagement processes with foregone conclusions intended to give the appearance of shared input. Your step-by-step description of what is needed suggest important safeguards against that happening in this case.

  • Resource Specialist

    Congratulations to all for the clear victory with the School Board vote! And I agree there is still much work to be done. One suggestion is to make sure that the Resource and SDC teachers have a voice and are involved in any future decisions, as we are on the “front lines” and “in the trenches” working with our special needs students. I can tell you that many Resource Teachers are already spread extremely thin, going from school to school, trying to serve multiple students at multiple locations. Not only do we lose precious time in the commute, but we are forever dealing with larger and larger populations of teachers, administrators, psychologists, speech therapists, and a multitude of new referrals! Setting up and maintaining multiple classrooms and offices is also exhausting and time-consuming, time which could and should be spent delivering services to our students! This is very different than serving all our students in one school or at one site. We have moved away from being able to invest ourselves in a single school community. We are spread so thin we cannot possibly do our job right and this needs to be addressed in any upcoming research group. Please see this article about how Pittsburg is dealing with this same issue:

    http://www.postgazette.com/stories/news/education/changes-to-pittsburgh-special-ed-worry-advocates-642879/

    For now, kudos to all who made the wonderful victory and especially for preserving our invaluable Program Specialists!

  • Special Ed

    Dear Resource Specialist (32):

    You are extremely valued by all of the parents, staff and community partners that volunteer for the CAC and attend meetings. Our unified stance last month was truly inspiring.

    I hope that you consider attending CAC meetings in the future and encouraging other staff to do so as well. The CAC is a valuable space and tool for us to connect and collaborate on behalf of the children that we all support.

    Thanks for the urgently needed work that you do each and every day. Thanks for your commitment.