Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Education in the News!!

Some very interesting stories hit the newspapers this past week. The two I was most interested in were in the Union Leader, and hit on two very important points for parents of children with special needs and for those concerned with the needs of “regular ed” kids…..class size and appropriate programming for kids with “emotional disturbance”.

Parents of children with special needs sometimes have difficulty working with schools around “appropriate programming”. The special education law provides for education that meets “the unique needs” of the individual. Too often, children are placed in a certain program in the school based on their identification….ie. kids who are “emotionally disturbed” attend the “ED program” at the school, as is the case in the UL article concerning behavior. But the one size fits all approach is not appropriate…….putting a bunch of kids with different needs and characteristics in a room and using the same teaching and behavioral approach with all of them does not work!!! For students with significant needs, the most appropriate program may be an out of district alternative school that can better individualize services for kids. Parents need to know that they can request that option if their child’s current program is not working and the needs in their IEP (Individual Education Program) aren’t being met.

Better, more appropriate programming benefits not only students in special education programs, but students in regular education programs as well! People always get concerned that the “special ed kids” negatively impact the education offered to the “regular ed kids”……..and that can be the case when appropriate programming is not offered. As the article shows, when a student’s needs are not being met….they will act out, they will get frustrated, and in extreme cases, they can hurt others. This does impact a teacher’s ability to teach, it does scare other students, and it is bad for everyone involved! Parents need to advocate for appropriate programming based on their individual child’s needs and they need to realize that many options exist…….something schools don’t always share!

Playing into all of this is the class size issue. Class size in and of itself is not the most important thing, as good quality teaching is probably more important….but……combine a large class size and inappropriate programming and you will have a disaster on your hands. This overwhelms even the best of teachers and can be detrimental to the learning process for everyone!

What do you think?

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