Part of the Bay Area News Group

A rough start for Oakland’s special education students

By Katy Murphy
Monday, September 17th, 2012 at 5:20 pm in Uncategorized.

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. What she writes about does not reflect the view of any group.

The 2012-13 school year did not begin well for Oakland’s 5,000-plus special education students.

Last June, after a united protest by teachers, families and community members, the school board directed Superintendent Tony Smith and staff to hold off on special education budget cuts and program changes. The original proposal sent teachers and special day classes to different schools while cutting key staff. It also increased resource specialist caseloads and special day class size. The board said no change should happen until a full community engagement process had occurred.

It seems one or more top administrators are ignoring the board’s directive.

At the September 12 board meeting many resource specialists and special day class teachers spoke out against caseloads and class sizes that had increased to the point where instruction and support were close to impossible. (Families have also been raising concerns about this problem.) Board Director Alice Spearman reported principals in her district were complaining that resource specialists were on site the first day of school and then “disappeared.” Three weeks into the school year principals “don’t know whether they’re getting any assistance for these children.”

Director Spearman and JoAnna Lougin, the head of Oakland’s administrators’ union, also cited principal complaints that special education/special day class students were showing up at schools but were not on the attendance roles and weren’t being counted. Both warned of the serious safety issues this creates for students, schools and families. Trish Gorham, the head of Oakland’s teacher’s union also spoke out against staffing and caseload changes and noted the union would be filing one or more grievances.

What does this mean and who is most affected? Last year, 79 percent of special education students were African-American or Hispanic/Latino, a proportion not far from the 72 percent these groups represent district-wide. (That translates into 16 percent of the population of African-American students and 10 percent of the Hispanic/Latino population.)

By definition, special education students can’t make progress toward the educational standards other students are expected to meet without the support of specially designed instruction and/or services targeted to their unique needs. Modifying the regular instructional program doesn’t work. A student in a regular classroom who needs support from an absent resource specialist can’t get the instruction they need from a general education teacher.

It must be serious when principals, teachers, families, board members and unions are all expressing concern about special education in Oakland. How has your year started, and have you or your student been affected by any of these issues?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • Special Ed Parent

    For the first time in my child’s 4 year Special Education experience his Special Day class is beginning the year with 14 students. The class includes 1st to 3rd grade children with a variety of disabilities requiring focused small group support, specific instructional tools and resources, a carefully arranged setting, and a lot of well-planned differentiation. The number of students in this class is the number that the School Board sought to avoid by restoring Special Education funding. Most of the SDC’s like my child’s with which I am in contact have started the year with numbers like this or higher.

    Most of the EXPERIENCED SDC teachers that I speak to state that they can generally support their students adequately with a class size of 10 and a skilled aide. They cite 12 as the ultimate highest number if the needs are well balanced and the aide support is very good.

    Sadly, our district has in the past few years staffed Special Education classrooms and programs almost exclusively with interns on emergency credentials who lack teacher training or experience, let alone special education expertise. While many of them are committed and seek out information and guidance, those young teachers who have remained in OUSD are not receiving the training and support that they need and deserve to serve their students well. Aide vacancies abound and professional development for all Special Education staff, which has historically been minimal, is at the moment non-existent.

    While this systematic dis-investment from Special Education occurs, we are sold the empty promise of wholesale mainstreaming as so-called “inclusion” without the infrastructure of support that can ensure that students with disabilities will survive in General Education classrooms. At this juncture, the small oases of support like my son’s classroom that fiercely committed teachers and staff have carefully built over the years are slowly being dismantled.

    We have a major civil rights travesty in our midst. It ensures that the few with the resources will sue and that the children of those who cannot will suffer from a profound marginalization and neglect. This sets up Oakland as a community where children with Special Needs are not welcome and where they continue to populate our streets and jails in higher and higher numbers.

    All of public education is suffering; we all know that. In these hard times we need to boldly name the the needs with a focus on the most vulnerable. And we need the type of principled leadership that will demand resources while refusing to sacrifice its most vulnerable children.

    Where is the Resource Development for the Full Service Community School that foregrounds the needs of children with disabilities? Where is the task force?

    District leadership can’t even describe this population, its varied experiences, and its needs.

    One things brings me hope: the experience of attending a district-wide special education meeting last week with more than 100 members of our community speaking about our what our children are experiencing from their many vantage points. It was a unified gathering of parents, guardians, students, teachers, other staff, community partners, and some administrators building with each other for the changes that we need.
    This gathering brought me hope because it showed that we have what it takes to reject the invisibility and profound neglect to which many will consign our children.

  • oaklandteacher

    At our school site we are understaffed. We have limited instructional aides and although it is going okay so far, numbers are above case load limit.

    In addition when we met with individuals from the special education department they confirmed that there would be no professional development, or at least it was not planned yet.

  • Jay Are

    Didn’t the district office comission a study of SPED for $50,000 and then hire the consultant to run the department? $50 says the consultant is *connected*

    #godfather

  • Heyooh

    this is affecting charter schools as well.

  • Nontcair

    .. students were showing up at schools but were not on the attendance roles and weren’t being counted.

    Once again we see special interests fighting over tax dollars.

    That fact that students are showing up and receiving awful educations does not matter.

  • anon

    I am surprised that more people are not commenting here. There are students who are not receiving special education services because there is no teacher assigned. Somehow, cuts were made to the special education department even though the school board voted to restore funding so that those cuts did not take place.

    Does no one care about special education students? It would be especially interesting to have principals speaking publicly about their schools, as they may be the only ones who can paint the bigger picture here.

  • Murphy’s Law

    @Anon
    “Does no one care about Special Ed students?”

    If care is an action word, the answer is no.
    If care is a state of mind or philosophy, the answer is yes.

    To be fair, the blog post about volunteering in Oakland’s schools produced absolutely ZERO posts.

    Guess your question should be, “Does anyone care about Oakland’s students?”

    Thanks to the teachers and principals who go above and beyond to reach our kids. I’m not sure what percentage of you this applies to, but you are doing honorable work.

    Not sure why there isn’t more internal pressure from those two groups to push out the ineffective among them – but that’s another converation. Seems to me that a 5th grade teacher would do almost anything to get good 3rd and 4th grade teachers at their school.

  • Seenitbefore

    Maybe we aren’t getting much in the way of comments because….. what is there to say really??? In Oakland, the Superintendent and his cronies basically will do whatever they want to…. doesn’t matter what the School Board says…. what the admins or teachers say….what the parents advocate for their children and LEAST of all what’s in the best interest of our kids.

    Did you see the streets of Chicago the past couple of weeks? An entire community stood up to a BULLY and said “we’re NOT gonna take it!” That is what it will take for Oaklanders to actually get OUSD back on the right track. At the upper levels of management….far too many outside entities and friends/family of friends/family have their hands in the money pot. They do not CARE about the kids… they care about the money. They are making a minimum of 6 figures each and trying to blame TEACHERS for all of the problems in education. If only teachers actually had all of the power people want to hold them accountable for having!!

    Oakland is dysfunctional. Why? Because as long as the administration at the top of the power structure is able to keep everybody below them all shook up and scrambling by changing things and constantly attacking the core values of the teaching profession….teachers an parents are just too exhausted and frustrated by trying to help their kids make it through each school day….. then nobody has time nor energy to point the finger back on the administration and hold THEM accountable for the CHAOS that they designed.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Seenitbefore:

    Special education students are not seen by the vast majority of people. My sister is blind and growing up I experienced what Special Education meant. It meant both learning academics such as reading with one’s fingers, and learning how to cook when one is blind. In other words how to function outside of school.

    I was reminded of that experience when I for the first time accepted an assignment and substituted for a Special Education teacher who has an S.H. class. S.H. stands for severely handicapped. This assignment was a pre-school class of 3 and 4 year olds. It was an amazing experience working with the highly trained aids to the handicapped.

    The class size and adult ratio is very low because these children have very limited vocabulary. But, I was reminded of the movie the Miracle Worker, the story of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, seeing how smartly the instructional assistants worked with these children and the intelligent behind the program the children were receiving that recognized their individuality and treated them with such respect. But, the program also demanded that they do their best. In some ways this S.H. preschool program mirrored the private pre-school program my two grand children attended.

    The reason I was called was that the Special Education class next door had had a substitute and no permanent teacher. The experienced teacher I replaced was being freed to help organize that substitutes’ class.

    If we judge ourselves as a District what we do for the least of us then we should pay attention to the Special Education classes and doubly our attention to what is happening with our S.H. Special Education classes.

    A priority should be having experienced Special Education teachers and experienced aids to the handicap in everyone class with the appropriate adult to student ratio.

    I don’t know the situation with the S.H Special Education classes but I would like to see a report on how the District is doing in its S.H. Special Education program staffing with experienced personnel and how well it is in compliance with class size. Both experience and class size matter and in this specialized area one only has to spend a few hours in such a S.H. class to judge how important the factors are for this population of students.

    Jim Mordecai

  • On The Fence

    Seenitbefore,

    Great post! Much of what you said is spot on.

    As a busy working parent, I am working tirelessly to help my kids navigate the insanity of OUSD so that they can access the quality education that exists in spite of the multiple missteps of the district. Most of the individual teachers and principals that my children have come across are dedicated, enthusiastic educators. However, much of my time has been spent trying to mitigate the hurdles thrown up at each turn by the district administration. Special Ed. or not, the district is wreaking havoc for many, many students. In spite of this or because of it, I am happy to dedicate many, many hours to help these teachers and principals to promote programs that will help other children and families. Like many, many other posters on this blog, I’m already volunteering in capacities that I feel qualified to the best of my ability.

    I care about the plight of the students in OUSD, but lack further time or expertise to fully understand and comment on the serious issues facing OUSD Special Education program.

  • Special Ed Parent

    Dear Jim Mordecai:

    Thanks for this crucial statement: “If we judge ourselves as a District what we do for the least of us then we should pay attention to the Special Education classes and doubly our attention to what is happening with our S.H. Special Education classes.”

    And thanks for naming this clear priority: “A priority should be having experienced Special Education teachers and experienced aids to the handicap in everyone class with the appropriate adult to student ratio.”

    Many of us parents in SDC classes volunteer intensively to support the teachers and all of the students. All we are asking for is consistent and competent teachers and aides and small enough numbers to, as small classroom communities, make wonderful things happen for our children.

    No one’s asking for bells and whistles. We’re not even asking for the complementary things that other students get as routine within sites. Some of us even come to resign ourselves to relative isolation within schools so that we can focus on partnering intensively with the teacher, aide, and other families. Let’s keep the focus on the quality of the classroom experience and on protecting these students within the entire school so that they have a shot at learning.

    Then we can talk about strategic plans and full service community schools. Also, the work of inclusion does not begin with Special Education staff and families who are attending to the complicated dailiness of it all. It begins with those who render us invisible in the first place, who don’t take the time to see our needs, and who still continue to implement changes on a whim.

    If we don’t have the basics for the classroom and we can’t ensure safety, any other conversation is moot. A first start would be to stop all of this crazy re-shuffling and re-structuring. Let’s define the problems clearly with concrete information and protect the little bit of stability that exists in Special Education programs. Then, we can begin to build out.

  • Allison Rodman

    I am always a positivist about people. And in regards to the rocky start for Special Ed I do not want to beat up anyone until I see their true work.
    For instance, this week a group of Crocker Highland parents met with Ms. Karen Mates, the new Executive Director of Programs for Exceptional Children. We put forth a request for OUSD to rescind the involuntary reassignment of Crocker’s Learning Specialist. Success! Our specialist is returning.
    We also learned why the offer letters for contracting of classroom aides has not gone well. An admin snafu. So a late start this year for our kids. No one is happy about it. But let’s move on.
    Kudos to Ms. Mates for shouldering the work and undoing or dealing with problems that she had no hand in. I don’t care if she was a consultant. She had no power and did her job that she was paid for. And then knowing that the system needed so much work, she still took on the Big Job. I believe that Tony smith is putting into place the right team to lead us towards a very bright future.

    But this is not just about the good news. We parents are needed to work together to do even more — than just unwind poor decisions (not to blame Mates for the involuntary assignments, she has inherited a mess) I really enjoyed meeting Ms. Mates and I am heartened by her vision. The vision will not be top down. Soon there will be a calling out in each sub district of OUSD for parents and community to come to strategic planning meetings to find the vision together.
    And she is also doing some immediate fixes in regards, to the HR structure and bringing programs up to current standards, but the over arching plan will be done in a community process.

    Meanwhile she is looking for parents to work on two projects.

    1. Help with a monthly speaker series “Every Kind of Mind” a place for parents and teachers to learn best practices, new strategies, Learn from one another, empower each other. An opportunity to be excited and hopeful and empowering.

    2. Creation of a “Tech Center” Assistive technology is key for the future of our kids. Ms. Mates has the staff and a place but not the stuff. Parents are needed to raise the money and find sustainable ways to get Ipads for all the Special Day Classes, purchase all the cool gadgets and have them in a place where anyone can come and try them out and learn how best to use them. A grand vision and one that with all the techy folk in Oakland — is doable. The Marin Tech Center is an example that has been transformative for that school district.
    Let’s show them how Oakland does it. If you are interested contact me at allisonrodman@gmail.com

  • Special Ed Parent

    I am curious to know where in any of the responses to this blog article can a “beating up” of Ms. Karen Mates be found. She will need all of us and we will need her to confront the great challenges that Special Education faces at a time when austerity is the only prescription and dangerous calculations are being made. We will need leadership at all levels and in all areas of our district and community.

    And I guess that I must also restate the following: “Many of us parents in SDC classes volunteer intensively to support the teachers and all of the students.” The assumption above is that you can’t be both a volunteer and an advocate. Both are needed.

    The problems that we are facing in an especially urgent way right now precede Ms. Mates and originate in many places. The neglect and the invisibility are not new and those of us with children in under-resourced schools have been experiencing it in very dramatic and dangerous ways. We must name those problems clearly so that we can tackle them.

    Before we forget where the current focus on Special Education was born, let’s point to the groundswell of community response in June of the last school year to a re-structuring plan that was crafted without a by-line to be implemented within two weeks and without any community input. There is engagement now because we demanded our right to it. Whether it will be meaningful and have impact is yet to be seen. That it will be is my hope.

    All of us are engaged in monumental efforts to make things happen at every level–in our homes, classrooms, schools, in the entire district, and beyond.

    I celebrate the efforts of Ms. Rodman and look forward to their coming to fruition. In the meantime, I will try to keep up with all that I am doing with others to support my son’s classroom and to be part of a bigger and better vision for Special Education.

  • SpedMom

    How has my year started?….

    Well my son started Kindergarten this year in an NSH LE class….A class that was recommended by his former teacher and that I had already envisioned for him …. Towards the end of the school year I became aware that the teacher would be on maternity leave the first half of the year, and the plan was for the teacher to participate in the selection of a long term sub, keep the class size low, leave all lessons prepared, and with support from a very good aid, everything would go as smoothly as possible.
    The last 2 were done: the teacher had prepared everything..and the aid has been running the class just as laid out by the teacher.

    On the first day of school a, larger than norm, group of children waited as the sub arrived late, having received the call the night before…( not the first day of Kindergarten I envisioned for my child)…..This, of course, threw up all sorts of concerns in my mind, as the sub was obviously not prepared for her placement.

    As soon as the drop off happened, I called the person who’s name was on my son’s placement letter, at PEC…The voicemail stated she was responsible for middle school…So I drove to the PEC office, to inquire about who was in charge of students at my son’s school and/or region…I was given the name and business card of the person overseeing ALL elementary school children…To my knowledge, there were no longer coordinators for given regions, and when I asked who from PEC would be present if I wanted to hold a meeting, and the response was “the teacher and the principal”…Well yes if it was his Sped teacher, but a sub who is not even allowed to see his entire IEP, really?

    Over the next few weeks I was bombarded with questions, by the sub, about my son’s “weaknesses”..Questions being phrased very negatively with no filter right in front of him….I guess the letter I sent on the first day, introducing him, was not enough…. Did she even know his IEP goals?

    As she eased into her routine, I gave her the benefit of the doubt…By the 3rd week of school, I decided to call a meeting to meet with all the therapists and the sub, in hopes that it would give her some background and guidance in working with my son… I also volunteered in the class, to lend a hand and see how my son was functioning….During the time in the class, everything went pretty smoothly, but the instruction of the lessons was not that of trained teacher… My presence was acknowledged many times by the sub as being really helpful to keeping all students on task and more participatory. I decided I would be volunteering regularly (hopefully weekly between me and his dad, to lend support)
    At the beginning of week 4 (this past week), I was contacted about scheduling the meeting for the teacher and therapists, but at the same time informed, the subs last day was going to be Friday….I put the meeting on hold, as it was for mostly for the sub that I wanted it to be held, and contacted the principal and program specialist, regarding the sub issue.

    Sitting down to talk with the principal, we both agreed it was in the best interest of the children to have the most qualified replacement who would stay the duration of the teacher’s leave….She said she had been in constant contact with Human Resources regarding the sub issue….She went on to explain that because the sub had no credential, she would not be able to stay longer than 20 days and that no exceptions could be made to this rule, even when dealing with such a lengthy leave and a special ed. classroom. Though I suspected, this was the first I had heard that not only did the substitute teacher not have a special ed. credential, she did not have or is currently working on a credential at all….While in the meeting she checked the system to see if a credentialed teacher had been identified to start on Monday….If so, they would be inviting them to attend class on Friday, to get adjusted and prepared for Monday…No one was available…I kept my composer, and made a suggestion, to that fact that if another aid was put in the class, at least the children could get more one on one help, to make up for the lack of experience and proper instruction….She liked that idea, but explained that was an issue that would have to go through PEC, as she could not use her general school funds for a sped. aid….It’s such a contradiction that the sub issue is a general ed issue, that has no exceptions for sped, and the aid issue is a sped issue that “can’t” be handled through general ed….There is something wrong here!….It really allows for the responsibility to be dropped.

    I left the meeting feeling like the principal was doing what she could, but not taking a necessarily strong stance for special education students in particular, and really having limited communication with PEC to troubleshoot this issue.She took my number and said she would be in touch…She also said that a letter would be going out to the parents of my son’s class, explaining what is going on….When I came for the pick up on Friday, I thanked the teacher for her time and effort, and assumed a letter would be in the end of week folder….No letter, no phone call.

    In that time. I also spoke with the schools PEC program specialist…She was very quick to direct me to the principal regarding to issue, as there was not much she could do since it was a “human resource issue”….I mentioned to her, my suggestion to the principal, regarding an aid…and she said “she can bring that up at her meeting, but considering the education funds being limited state wide, and the budget being what it is, they will look at her as if she “has two heads”….The conversation pretty much ended there.

    I have advocated, communicated with administration, lent support, been patient, pulled together materials to “school” at home…but at the end of the day my child, and all the others in the class, are not getting the education they would be getting if their teacher was present…This is expected and acceptable when a replacement/sub is present for a short period of time, but when it is known far in advance that 1/2 of the school year will be with someone other than the regular teacher, more needs to be done to make sure education continues, stability is created and INDIVIDUAL EDUCATION GOALS are honored and met.

    What’s next?
    to contact and meet with higher administration?
    organize all the parents in the class to create a united front?

  • Frustrated Parent

    On The Fence Says and Seenitbefore are right on!! All we can do is work for the better of our own children.

    My family and I have spent countless hours in the last several months working with all levels in the district, from parent groups to the upper administration to the school board. And you know what we learned? No matter who we tried to engage, they don’t REALLY care about the kids or the community. In each situation, we found that the person or entity only cared about how to better their special interest. As a member of the community it sickens me. Things will never get better until we start looking at the big picture. While the “groundswell of community response” bought you a stay of execution, so to speak, I promise you there has been no true community engagement and if administration has its way there won’t be. If Ms. Mates felt compelled to bring a mediator and quasi body-guard to the monthly CAC meeting, how open is the relationship?

    Good luck, Oakland!! You are going to need it!

  • Jim Mordecai

    Does anyone know the biography of Karen Mates? I believe she was head of the Special Education Department in Tamapius School District, Marin County. And, she may still live in Marin and take awhile to learn Oakland.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nontcair

    #14 wrote [Principal] liked that idea, but explained that was an issue that would have to go through PEC, as she could not use her general school funds for a sped. aid … [she] can bring that up at her meeting, but considering the education funds being limited state wide, and the budget being what it is, they will look at her as if she “has two heads”….

    I’m surprised ($150K?) principal didn’t blame Prop 13 and put in a plug for Prop 30.

  • Nontcair

    What a sad story. Deja vu.

    One would think that with all the money flowing through OUSD that it would be able to assign your kid’s class a steady teacher for 180 days. Isn’t that, after all, one of OUSD’s *core* duties?

    Recently this blog informed us that the student assignment department (or whatever the name of that particular bureaucracy) was moving into new quarters at one of the schools which had been closed.

    What’s going on with the *teacher* assignment department?

    It looks like OUSD needs to hire another $125K coordinator.

    Oh, and *don’t* volunteer at OUSD. You’re just enabling OUSD spend more money *outside* the classroom.

    A few per times a year I get glossy, professionally done fundraising appeal letters in the mail from those big charities you always hear about. Frequently there’s a message from the “CEO”, thanking donors for their time, $$, etc. The CEO is making $800K.

    He couldn’t do it without you!

    How much is Tony Smith making?

  • Nontcair

    While in the meeting she checked the system to see if a credentialed teacher had been identified to start on Monday

    Your kid has to waste 6 hours per day with an unlicensed babysitter so that the teachers union can maintain its legal monopoly on purveyance of licensed ones.

  • anon

    The teachers union would be happy to have someone hired for the above mentioned class. How in the world are you making a connection to a “legal monopoly on purveyance of licensed ones?” You use an argument that is completely irrelevant in this case, but you are right that this situation clearly does not support students.

    The reason that a sub cannot be hired long-term/stay for longer than 30 days (not 20) is because of the Williams Case – which prevents there being long term subs in classrooms, but unfortunately does not prevent there from being rotating subs. It was intended to keep classes (particularly in higher poverty areas) from being staffed with subs, by preventing a sub who is not either credentialed in the subject area OR holding an intern credential in the subject area from working in the classroom long term. I would really look back at the district and at HR, who have not shown due diligence in preparing for staffing openings by hiring over the summer. Having short term subs in place benefits OUSD because it means they are paying much lower wages to subs than to credentialed teachers.

    File a Williams Complaint. Any person, parent, staff, teacher, community can file a complaint. There is a phone number posted in every classroom in California. That is part of the settlement, which was the largest lawsuit ever settled in California history.

  • oaklandteacher

    All I ask is that Ms. Mates send out a blast to all teachers introducing herself and letting us know about changes being made. Teachers are finding out about some new legal documents through the school psychologists and many of us don’t have contact with our program specialists. Communication can go a long way with us teachers who are on the front line of communication with students, families and administration.

  • Nontcair

    #20 wrote: You use an argument that is completely irrelevant in this case

    Of course the union will not be fully satisfied until it can fill that position with a *member*. It can tolerate filling the position with a non-member who holds a credential since such a candidate would not put downward pressure on wages; union penetration is still large enough that credentialing means OUSD will *always* have little choice but to hire union teachers in its traditional schools.

    There’s the monopoly.

    It’s really disgusting how the union will NOT tolerate #14′s (or anyone else’s) kid having lengthy continuity without that candidate possessing a “credential”. It is a mystery to me why so many parents continue to support teacher credentialing.

    For that matter I don’t understand why they support all the other forms of protectionism for the teachers union, such as:

    #1) The 180 day, six+ hour per day school “year”
    #2) mandated curricula
    #3) compulsory attendance
    #4) civil service (“merit”) employment laws
    #5) collective bargaining for public unions

    etc and so forth, all of which serve no purpose except to:

    artifically *spike* demand
    restrict supply
    make it next to *impossible* to fire someone
    keep wages at above-market levels

  • anon

    None of the rules/regulations around credentialing are set by teachers unions. They are set by state ed code, completely independently of unions.

    The Williams Case, which prevents substitutes from filling positions is the most important civil rights case in education since Brown vs Board of Education. I suggest you do some reading. It had nothing to do with teachers unions; it was filed by the ACLU on behalf of a student.

    Please do your research before you post inaccurate rants. Now we know that you are just another teacher and union hater, and will turn any topic into being about your hate. This blog was about special education students in Oakland who are not receiving the education they are entitled to.

    Please take your bile somewhere else.

  • Nontcair

    I believe private unions are a nuisance to be avoided. Like high fructose corn syrup.

    I believe *public* unions should be banned.

    Nobody can force me to purchase a product that contains the union label.

    Public unions work to force me to pay higher taxes to support their contracts.

    That’s a big difference.

    #14′s sad story is a consequence of the schools having been politicized by the special interests about 175 years ago.

    Other legacies of that era include the teachers union and that monstrosity known as the “education code”.

    This blog seems to be dominated by those who believe that opinions issued by socialist judges are incontrovertible and conclusive.

  • Nextset

    Nontcair: You may not like Unions but you cannot prevent a free people from organizing and bargaining collectively.

    Ditto public unions.

    Of course the employers are free to seek other workers.

    It’s all good.

    And as far as working within a legal system goes… When you’re not King, you can’t dictate…

    It’s difficult I know to have to work with others, but there it is.

  • anon

    Let’s be clear – substitutes are also union members of completely equal standing to assigned teachers. Many substitutes are former or retired teachers.

    Get over it. This is not a function of the teachers union, no matter how much you want to blame this on teachers and or unions.

    The union does not have the kind of power you ascribe to it. Look to the administration for not adequately preparing for credentialed personal and to the law.

  • SpedMom

    Who knew the sub issue whould bring up such debate…
    I am happy to say, my son started his day with a “sped credentialed sub” who will stay the length of his teacher’s leave….I have yet to see her true skills, but it’s a start.

  • Turanga_Teach

    The union issue is a NONISSUE here, kids.

    If you want to make noise, let’s talk special education teacher attrition and the difficulty of finding qualified people to fill vacancies in PEC.

    Glad to hear that your son’s classroom is staffed, SpedMom–to my knowledge, there are still a few that aren’t.

  • anon

    I have heard that there are several schools who are completely unstaffed by special ed.

    Unfortunately, PEC is going to have a hard time finding qualified teachers at this time of year. Other districts advertise in the early spring for the following year. They also pay higher salaries than here to their teachers.

  • Special Ed Parent

    On the staffed side of the Special Day experience: we are drowning by degrees.

    My child’s SDC started the year with 12 students–unprecedented for this program in past years but within advisable limits.

    Then, there were 13, then 14, then 15…

    The classroom, which has diverse disability needs including some children with behavioral support needs and on the autism spectrum has only a handful of students less than the General Ed classrooms and it is supposed to teach to 3 grade levels.

    These are students who can come close to grade level work with a carefully constructed setting, a small enough grouping and specialized support.

    Our community has our work cut out in reversing these trends.

  • anon

    15 students in a Special Day Class sounds terrible, especially with three different grade levels, and what is likely a huge mix of disabilities.

    Isn’t this exactly what the school board said should not happen? Isn’t that why they reinstated money to the budget last year?