People who have been classroom teachers know that teachers did not have time enough to do the job before all of these reforms......THESE POLS KNOW ALL OF THIS DATA AND EVALUATION CANNOT BE DONE BY TEACHERS!!!!!
I want to emphasize that all of policy, in this case education is driven by private non-profits established by the 1%.....in Baltimore's case Johns Hopkins, to capture both sides of the issue and lead all public input towards the policy wanted by the 1%. That is why it feels the communities have no say on local public policy......they really don't! I regularly shame public media for its silence on all of this. It is no secret NPR and APM have all been taken by corporate interests and only presenting Third Way corporate policy as the democratic stance. Third Way is behind Obama's education reform and it all involves privatizing and cheapening education as I have demonstrated.
We saw with special education in Maryland your incumbent is setting the stage for the next stages of privatizing......we have the charters with vocational tracking, they are moving towards evaluations, and we heard from the Baltimore City Public Schools director of Special Education that Teach for America will begin entering the classrooms in higher numbers and now these laws in the Maryland Assembly move towards the Michelle Rhee Parent Trigger that makes it easier to move a school from being public to being charter. All of this preys upon parents simply wanting decent instruction in the classroom and with K-12 being slowly defunded, that will not happen. THESE THIRD WAY CORPORATE POLITICIANS ARE CREATING THE PERFECT STORM THAT WILL HAVE THEM DECLARING THE NECESSITY TO PRIVATIZE. Below you will see an article where New York City teachers unions are finally shouting out as to the intent of these Third Way education reformers to simply place students in front of computer screens as education.
Remember, this is being done because with corporate tax and taxation on the rich disappearing and wages and employment low there will not be enough revenue to support public anything.....especially public education. Special needs and underserved will become the platform for instating the privatized structure for schools as business that will then be extended to all public schools. The affluent private schools will still have the quality of democratic and humanities based schools we know are the best.....because they will be the leaders needing a well-rounded education. The masses only need to know how to work after all.
SIMPLY RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE AND VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE......WE CAN TURN THESE POLICIES AROUND!!!!!
Below you see a opinion piece by a New York City teacher who exists in the same education climate that will come to Baltimore and is now in progress. Note how the comments regarding special needs training matches that given by advocates and parents at the meeting here in Baltimore!!!! The common theme is that teachers are being worn down and out of the profession which works when the goal is to replace them with education techs and online classrooms.
NONE OF THIS HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH KIDS AND QUALITY......IT IS ALL ABOUT PRIVATIZING AND PROFITS!!!
People who have been classroom teachers know that teachers did not have time enough to do the job before all of these reforms......THESE POLS KNOW ALL OF THIS DATA AND EVALUATION CANNOT BE DONE BY TEACHERS!!!!!
Mr. Thompson says:
Isn’t it unfortunate that special education reform and SESIS have been launched without effective citywide training and data-based suggestions for implementation? Principal- and network-led professional development sessions on these topics reflect the fact that school leaders themselves don’t know what’s going on with special education in New York.
Feb. 12, 2013 Ed Wize
by Mr. Thompson
Everyone’s talking about the breakdown in the teacher evaluation talks between the mayor and the union as if it were the only chance to fix public education in New York City. Do we need an evaluation system? Absolutely. Is it a cure-all for our educational ills? Absolutely not.
I am still in the middle of my honeymoon period with teaching, the first career I’ve truly loved. Sadly, like so many teachers in our city, newbies such as myself and grizzled veterans alike, I am developing a profound sense of regret linked to the growing sensation that I may not be cut out for the classroom, or at least the New York City classroom. I rarely feel recognized for my work. I rarely feel effective in the classroom. I rarely feel like I’m giving my students what they will need to succeed in college and beyond.
Certain mayors, governors, members of Congress and leaders in education reform constantly denigrate teachers. In fact, there are times when I feel like that is the only topic of national interest where there is a degree of political consensus: Our students are failing and teachers are to blame.
Along with most teachers I know, I’m spending 12 to 15 hours every day teaching, planning lessons, grading papers, developing presentation slides, completing paperwork, enhancing my classroom environment and calling parents. Once you add in my meals and commute, there’s barely enough time to sleep!
And, new evaluation system or no, I’m being held accountable for everything I do. Nearly every email in my inbox is marked “high importance” and then followed up with countless check-ins. Danielson rubric “feedback loops” are happening every month. Administrators march through my room nearly every week. My student data binder is thoroughly reviewed by teachers, administrators, network consultants and our superintendent.
Every time I turn around, I’m being told “Good job, but …” And every time a change is suggested to me, I implement it. Not enough student work on the walls? Fixed! Student work hung too high? Lowered! Process for completing an assignment unclear? Posted!
But when teachers need help, we’re given sympathy without assistance. Sorry — there are no office supplies available, but you’re supposed to have color-coded charts, class sets of dry erase markers, an array of options for organizers and manipulatives, and even a variety of paper choices to allow for student agency in every assignment. Sorry — there are no aligned resources for the unit you’re teaching, but still you’re supposed to find content-aligned, leveled, authentic literature for every student in every subject. These items are presented to me as non-negotiables by the city and my administration. But what about teacher non-negotiables?
Isn’t it interesting that Common Core Learning Standards were introduced without aligned curricula? Isolated task bundles full of grammatical mistakes as part of a vast trove of online garbage that I’m supposed to wade through during my free time just don’t cut it. Isn’t it unfortunate that special education reform and SESIS have been launched without effective citywide training and data-based suggestions for implementation? Principal- and network-led professional development sessions on these topics reflect the fact that school leaders themselves don’t know what’s going on with special education in New York.
Isn’t it shameful that the people demanding Universal Design for Learning, scaffolding and differentiation, Danielson-aligned teaching practices and data-driven instruction could not offer any of these cutting-edge teaching techniques themselves? I’m absolutely sick of being told the importance of visual anchors at presentations without any visual anchors!
So is a new teacher evaluation system — one that helps teachers improve — important? Absolutely. But let’s not forget that without standards-aligned curricula, robust learning resources and a dramatic improvement in teacher morale, there may not be many teachers left to evaluate.
Mr. Thompson is the pseudonym of a fourth-year elementary school teacher in Brooklyn. A version of this post first appeared on the UFT blog Edwize.org, where “New Teacher Diaries” is a regular feature. If you’re interested in writing a New Teacher Diary entry for Edwize, send an email to email@example.com.
Here you see a local article on the state of Baltimore's special education progress. You can see they are moving towards inclusion and eliminating the special education departments just as they are in New York. This is only setting the stage for failure and you know what happens when Parent Triggers are used by parents of specials needs.......charters just for special needs.....warehousing.
As Congress and Obama allow tens of trillions of dollars stolen from government coffers stand, it will be budget cuts for all Title 1 funding for special needs and underserved. That is the goal of sequester. Who drives this education reform? Obama and ALEC.......PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW SENTIMENT FOR OBAMA TO CLOUD THE FACT THAT IT IS THIRD WAY CORPORATE DEMOCRATS CAUSING THESE PROBLEMS WITH PRIVATIZING!!!
For Baltimore schools, special education still a work in progress Parents, advocates say that despite progress, school system has long way to go after Vaughn G. settlement
By Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun 6:05 p.m. EDT, June 23, 2012
At 4 years old, Imani Frederick couldn't recognize colors. Even a year later, he couldn't form complete sentences and struggled to count to 10. When he was 6, a neuropsychologist observed the fidgety, easily frustrated boy and diagnosed attention deficit hyperactive and expressive language disorder.
The doctor predicted that he would have difficulty academically and recommended classroom accommodations, such as a seat near the teacher, who would need to repeat directions for him. Imani's school should also establish a behavioral plan for him, the doctor suggested.
More than a decade later, the Baltimore City school district has come to a different conclusion about Imani Frederick. Even though he received special education services in elementary school before going to private school for a time, district officials said they couldn't confirm that he had a disability when he enrolled in public high school.
"Needing services doesn't mean that I'm retarded, but I just have a lot of energy and I don't get things as fast as everybody else," said the soft-spoken Frederick, 19 and a rising senior at the Friendship Academy of Science and Technology.
The Baltimore school system has long been criticized for failing special education students. For a quarter-century, the district has been under increased court and state oversight, the result of a landmark lawsuit alleging that it didn't comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the federal law that guarantees students with disabilities an appropriate free education.
As that extra layer of scrutiny comes to an end this year, some of the challenges that inspired the lawsuit remain, The Baltimore Sun found in interviews with dozens of parents, special education experts, and school officials as well as state audits obtained through public records requests.
Frederick's mother, Sharon Jackson, is among a vocal group of parents who contend that special education students aren't getting the help they need in the classroom, setting them back. Parents describe battling a bureaucracy that denies them services or doesn't know how to handle the students. Some say they are called several times a week to pick up their children when teachers give up.
Meanwhile, state officials have continued to flag issues in audits as recently as last year. Among the findings: Many special instructional and testing accommodations recommended in individualized education plans, such as one-on-one help from teachers, weren't provided. And the co-teaching model, which adds a special education teacher to the classroom, isn't used as widely as auditors recommend.
"We are not out of the woods at this time," said Blondelia Caldwell-Harrison, who chairs the district's parent advocacy group, the Special Education Citizen's Advisory Committee. "We must do better than what we're doing today in educating our children."
Statistically, the system has made noteworthy progress: Graduation rates among special education students are up and dropout rates are down, and more students with disabilities are in general education classrooms, rather than being illegally segregated.
Overall, district officials say, schools are more able and committed to serve the population, which accounts for more than 16 percent of the city's 83,000 students. The school system has planned a public forum Wednesday to discuss the progress it has made since the lawsuit.
"For 20 years, under the lawsuit, the district struggled to move the needle on many outcomes," city schools CEO Andrés Alonso, said in a statement. "Then, in the past five years, the needle moved. That happened because of focus, leadership and commitment, openness to criticism, and collaboration. Those things cannot be mandated or legislated, or they would have changed in the 20 years earlier."
But Frederick's experience recalls that of some disabled students when the lawsuit was filed 28 years ago. Back then, school officials neglected to conduct assessments of disabled students in the time frame required by federal law, delaying needed special education services. Moreover, special education advocates accused the school system of shutting out some children by not identifying them as special-needs students.
Still today, parents and advocates suspect that because it is costly to educate special-needs students, some are not being afforded the extra help.
When Frederick enrolled in the academy, district officials said they couldn't find files that would have outlined his individualized education plan — which is required for special education students.
Undeterred, Jackson pressed the district to find her son's files, which were eventually were traced to a warehouse. She also took her son to Kennedy Krieger Institute for an independent evaluation, which not only found he suffers from ADHD but also adolescent depression. Doctors there recommended extensive educational assistance and vocational training.
Nonetheless, the school system has maintained that Frederick doesn't qualify for special education services.
'Grateful' for lawsuit
Problems with city schools' handling of special education students came to light when the Maryland Disability Law Center sued the mayor and city in 1984, on behalf of Vaughn Garris — identified in court records as Vaughn G. — and more than 30 other students.
As this article states it appears that the pace in which these reforms are being pressed seen to be driven by needs not associated with the children's interests. Education reform is driven by the fear of reformers that parents, teachers, and the public will understand the negatives and work to stop this kind of reform.
As a classroom teacher the public school in which I taught had a special education department within the school complete with specialized teachers and support staff. These special needs students could be included in general classes as was their ability. This was working fine for what I remember of parents and teachers.
Inclusion is about eliminating these special education departments and it is all about saving money. We all know that it will be impossible for a teacher with a class of 30-40 students, which is where class size is going, to handle a special needs student especially when the support is Teach for America. So, there seems to be no other goal in this then to declare special needs will be warehoused in separate schools as a congregate population. That is the cheapest solution and we know towards that is the goal of these reformers!!
Testimony on special education reform Testimony of Carmen Alvarez, UFT vice president for Special Education, before the New York City Council Education Committee
June 12, 2012 Watch video of the City Council oversight hearing on special education reform >>
UFT testimony begins at the 2-hour-34-minute mark.
Hello and good afternoon to you all. I want to thank Chairman Jackson and members of your distinguished committee for allowing me the opportunity to testify before you today. My name is Carmen Alvarez and I am the vice president for special education of the United Federation of Teachers.
I am here to sound the alarm about the Department of Education’s special education reform, which is rolling out to all schools in September. We are concerned that thousands of students with disabilities will not receive the supports and services they need as a result of this reform. We predict that this poorly implemented reform will lead to thousands of lawsuits from parents about children deprived of services that this city will be left to deal with for years to come — long after the current administration leaves office.
To begin, I want you to understand that the UFT believes very strongly in the goals of this reform. We believe that students with disabilities should be able to attend the same schools that their nondisabled peers attend as long as the schools are able to provide the specialized instruction and supports they need to succeed. We also believe that students with disabilities should receive instruction in the same classrooms as their nondisabled peers when the student’s instructional and behavioral needs can be addressed in that environment. Our concerns are with the DOE’s implementation of the reform.
Historically, the needs of the students as articulated in the IEP have driven the services that students receive. Under the reform, incoming kindergarten, middle and high school students with disabilities will be expected to attend the zoned or choice school they would attend if they were not disabled even if that school does not have available the program or service on their IEPs. Unless a child has been accepted into a special program, such as ASD Nest or District 75, or requires bilingual services or a barrier-free site, the parents will not have the option of having their child attend another school that has the program or service on their child’s IEP. Instead it’s clear from the DOE documents we’ve read that the DOE expects principals to direct school teams to review and change students’ IEPs to match the services available in the building.
Making matters worse, the DOE’s changes to the funding of special education services will drive many principals to compel changes to IEPs to bring more money to their schools. Instead of funding “classes,” schools will receive funds based on the percentage of time each child receives special education services. Funding for full-time integrated co-teaching services and full-time special classes will decrease while funding for parttime special education services will nearly double. As a result, principals have a real financial incentive to close self-contained classrooms and full-time CTT classes regardless of what students may need.
In the DOE’s magical thinking, the achievement of students with disabilities will improve simply because they will be spending more time in general education classrooms. The DOE claims that more time in the general education classroom leads to improved achievement, better behavior, fewer absences and better post-school outcomes. However, the research the DOE cites doesn’t say that at all. In fact, the research on the advantages of mainstreaming is infinitely more complex and nuanced than the DOE presents. Indeed, the DOE’s own summary of the results of Phase I of the reform concluded that “student outcomes showed no statistically significant differences on Math & ELA proficiency between Phase I and Comparison Schools.” Nor was there a significant difference in attendance rates. This information can be found on page 13 of the DOE’s powerpoint entitled “NYC Special Education Reform: Preliminary Results.”
Incredibly, the DOE is moving full speed ahead with this massive change without any plan for professional development for general education teachers who will be called upon to instruct students they may not have served before. Nor is the DOE offering anything geared to helping special education teachers and support personnel deliver the highquality, evidence-based, individualized instruction and support services that children with significant learning and behavior challenges require. Indeed, there is nothing at all about specialized instruction for students with disabilities in the DOE’s plan.
The DOE wants students with disabilities to learn the Common Core Learning Standards alongside their general education counterparts. On the national level, a recent study (see Kurz, Elliott, Lemons, Zigmond, Kloo & Kettler, 2012) concluded that students with disabilities nested in general education classrooms do not have an equal or equitable opportunity to learn common core content. The gap is significant. According to this research, “Teachers need substantial support to meaningfully cover the intended general curriculum with all students, in particular those with disabilities. Many students with disabilities will need 30 to 40 more days of class time annually to have equitable OTL [opportunity to learn].”
The DOE likes to cite the extremely low graduation rate for students in self-contained classes as a reason for moving students out of them. Yet there are many reasons for the poor outcomes of students in these settings, several of which can be traced to the DOE’s own policies. First off, students in self-contained classes tend to have learning or behavior issues that are much more serious than their counterparts who receive integrated co-teaching and special education teacher support services. Second, self-contained classes are often bridged, meaning that the teacher is expected to teach curriculum at more than one grade level. It is unreasonable to expect children with disabilities who require more explicit instruction and more time to learn to meet grade-level standards when their teacher is required to provide instruction at multiple grade levels. If the DOE wants self-contained classes to have a reasonable chance of success, they need to stop bridging. Third, teachers in self-contained classes have rarely received support in research-based, effective practices. Lastly, course materials in alternative formats and assistive technology are rarely provided to assist students in accessing grade-level content.
So, what needs to be done to put the reform on the right track?
- Don’t force parents to send their child to his or her zoned school if the school is not able to provide the program and services on the child’s IEP. The DOE must offer options for parents who believe that their child needs a program or service that is not available in the zoned or choice school. These options must be available for both incoming and current students and should be in schools as close to the parent’s home as possible. The process should be expedited so that parents will know what school their child will attend by the end of June and so that schools will be able to hire sufficient staff to meet the incoming children’s needs before school opens in September.
- Revamp the reform message to put the IEP first. The DOE’s Reform Guide must clearly indicate that the primary focus of schools must be on implementing students’ IEPs, not creating “new innovative and inclusive programs.” Schools should be held accountable when they switch whole classes of students to new programs. We suggest that changes to IEPs that exceed 5 percent of the average number of changes over the last three school years in a given school should trigger an audit. These audits should take place no later than 15 days from the date of the trigger and may include site visits and meetings with school staff as well as parents. The DOE must protect parents and staff against retaliation for reporting practices that violate special education laws and regulations.
- Provide appropriate training. No school should be permitted to move forward with this reform until it can guarantee that school staff has received professional development in research-based strategies for addressing the needs of students with significant learning and behavior challenges in a mainstream setting. Professional development must be delivered by fully trained and knowledgeable personnel and should begin over the summer and continue throughout the school year.
- Slow down the pace of the reform. The DOE should not make the very children it is trying to help casualties of this reform by moving faster than the system’s capacity to successfully change direction.
The UFT is committed to closing the achievement gap for students with disabilities. We are prepared to demonstrate our commitment and show the DOE the way by offering a Special Education Institute for the 2012-13 school year. This institute will include a series of professional development offerings that will focus on research-based strategies for addressing the needs of students with significant learning and behavior challenges and will help general education and special education teachers work together effectively in co-teaching classrooms. It is our hope to include training in intensive diagnostic reading and math instruction for SETSS and special class teachers and Marilyn Friend’s Power of Two program for teachers of integrated co-teaching classes. For behavior, we anticipate offering a program comparable to the DOE’s successful, but far too limited STOPP (Strategies, Techniques and Options Prior to Placement) program. We would like to be able to offer professional development for teachers who work with students with autism and other specific disabilities as well.
Make no mistake, it is the DOE’s responsibility, not ours, to fund and provide this instruction and support for our members. But since the DOE has not stepped up to do this crucial work, we will not stand idly by while students flounder and our members drown in unmanageable demands.
In closing, this committee has an important role to play in this reform. As this reform rolls out in 1,700 schools next year, the committee can and should provide continuing oversight. We call on you to work with parents, advocates, school personnel and other stakeholders to define reporting metrics for this reform and to demand data from the DOE demonstrating progress on each of the identified measures. It would be helpful to all who are concerned about this reform if the committee issued regular reports on the successes and challenges schools are experiencing. We need to work together to get this right so that parents can have confidence in their children’s schools and all students can have the opportunity to succeed.
Baltimore is connected to New York City by Bloomberg and Hopkins and Alonzo is a former staffer for Klein and his privatizing machine!!!!
News Corp. Education Tablet: For The Love Of Learning? by David Folkenflik
March 08, 2013 2:03 AM Listen to the Story Morning Edition
Joel Klein, former New York City schools chief, left to run News Corp.'s education division. On Thursday, Amplify announced a specially designed education tablet.
Richard Drew/AP The educational division of the media conglomerate News Corp, called Amplify, unveiled a new digital tablet this week at the SXSW tech conference in Austin, Texas, intended to serve millions of schoolchildren and their teachers across the country.
Amplify promises the tablet will simplify administrative chores for teachers, enable shy children to participate more readily in discussions, and allow students to complete coursework at their own pace while drawing upon carefully selected online research resources.
News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch views the digital tablet as part of a push to modernize the educational system. But he has another goal in mind as well. The media mogul is counting on future revenues from his educational branch to help shore up the finances of his newspaper and publishing division as it is split off later this year from the conglomerate's vast holdings in television and entertainment.
And as a result, News Corp.'s initiative is stirring both interest and controversy.
In the past few years, Murdoch has described education as a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars. At a May 2011 event in Paris, Murdoch noted that the fields of medicine, finance and media have all accelerated their adoption of technology. But schools have failed to share such advances, he said.
"Today's classroom looks almost exactly the same as it did in the Victorian age: a teacher standing in front of a roomful of kids with only a textbook, a blackboard, and a piece of chalk," Murdoch said.
The person Murdoch hired to lead his charge, Joel Klein, is familiar in education circles. Klein is a Democrat and served as assistant attorney general under President Clinton. He was chancellor of the New York City school system for more than eight years for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He's easy to pick out at Amplify's offices in midtown Manhattan. He's the only person dressed in a suit and tie in a workspace that more closely resembles a start-up — replete with people confidently volleying at a ping pong table and piloting miniature helicopters overhead as their CEO walks by.
"Critics and others have said, 'You know ... technology has been around a long time, but it hasn't changed the learning experience'," Klein told NPR. "It's not about hardware, it's not about devices, it's really about learning.
"And if this does what I believe it will do — which is enhance the teaching and learning processes — then it's gonna be a home run."
A sneak peak revealed an Android tablet with a firm silicone jacket (designers say they have to expect pupils to be as careless with the tablets as their traditional text books). It is customized with apps for teachers to help them run quizzes and determine what progress pupils are making with ease while containing all of their coursework in a single, 10 inch device. It comes loaded with Amplify's curricular materials that satisfy so-called "Common Core" requirements mandated in all but five U.S. states. If Amplify wins the rights to carry most texts electronically – admittedly a tough nut to crack, given how warily publishers view e-books – the tablet can truly serve as a digital backback.
Other companies, including such giants as Apple, are trying to sell school districts on the value of their tablets too. Stephen Smyth, president of Amplify's Access division that creates the digital platforms on which its curricular material is delivered, argues that his company's tablet is distinctive because it is designed to allow students to interact with teachers instantaneously.
"These devices are connected," Smyth said recently. "If you go to Best Buy or a retailer and buy a tablet off the shelf, it can't do this. Really, what we're trying to solve here is actually how to have teachers use tablets in the classroom environment."
But some critics question what problem the tablets from Amplify – and its competitors — are solving. Some teachers union officials argue Amplify's efforts are part of a disturbing effort to lure politicians with technology that promises to enable teachers to handle more students per class – and thus reduce how many teachers school districts will need to employ.
Leonie Haimson, executive director of the nonprofit Class Size Matters in New York City, said Klein and Murdoch "believe that public school kids should have larger classes, and instead of getting personalized instruction via their teachers, should do it via a computer."
The tablet may well function perfectly well on its own terms, Haimson said, but she contends that Amplify's goal is less as about helping school children than turning a profit.
"It's all part of the same vision they have for transforming education by privatizing it," Haimson said. "And we have seen not just in New York City but nationwide an avid pillaging going on of public resources for private ends."
Klein's record in New York, a selling point in Murdoch's decision to hire him, is political baggage among some of his foes in the battles over education policy. Diane Ravitch, a former assistant education secretary under President Ronald Reagan who now criticizes some of her earlier allies, wrote last year that Klein and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had manufactured a schools crisis in a report for the Council on Foreign Relations. Klein and Rice wrote a report that carried this stark warning: "Educational failure puts the United States' future economic prosperity, global position and physical safety at risk."
She wrote that Klein and Rice offered prescriptions that were unproven — especially the reliance on technology proffered by private corporations.
Just days after leaving city government in 2010, Klein joined News Corp. in order to invigorate Murdoch's efforts in education. The company swiftly paid $360 million for an educational tech venture called Wireless Generation started by several of Klein's former employees. That firm was used as the basis for what they rechristened "Amplify."
But before they could get very far, Murdoch's tabloids in London became embroiled in the bribery and criminal phone hacking scandal. New York state revoked a $27 million contract for an education database with Amplify, citing concerns about the integrity of its parent company.
And Klein was pulled away to help Murdoch clean up the legal mess. He led an effort to collaborate with law enforcement authorities in both the U.K. and the U.S., thus limiting the company's likely liability in both countries and enabling it to avoid any criminal prosecutions or major civil sanctions for bribery in the U.S., at least so far.
"The good news was, while we had a problem in the UK, that problem wasn't a global problem," Klein said.
Yet Klein, now back at Amplify, conceded there is some suspicion of his boss's politics and motives, too.
In this country, Murdoch has pushed for greater reliance on charter schools, criticized teachers' unions and given money to aid selected politicians sharing his agenda. For example, records show News America, an arm of News Corp, gave $250,000 toward a group that helped to fund like-minded candidates running for the Los Angeles Board of Education. And Murdoch's primary American news organizations — Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post - have high profile conservative pundits that have often been skeptical to the point of hostile toward teachers' groups.
But Klein said Amplify should not be confused with its corporate siblings that often serve as a platform for political stands.
"Rupert realized this from the beginning: This is a division that's going to be focused on education," Klein said. "We don't have a political mission — none whatsoever. What we're doing is developing materials in math and science and the English language arts — designed by leading experts.
"Our commitment," Klein said, "is education only. We have no subsidiary agenda."
Is Baltimore really serious about integrating special needs into inclusive classrooms if they are sending Teach for America into these classrooms as the support person supposedly having the answers general education teachers do not have? Of course not. Teach for America are simply college grads with no special education beyond a short course load of education classes. They are not specialists and they often have no passion or intent on staying so this is a feigned attempt at transitioning at best.
Below is a good indicator of what should happen but as we heard from advocates none of these support systems exist!!
Supporting students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms by Orville Ingram | December 6, 2012 New York Teacher issue
With the special education reform in full swing, many of us teachers — especially general education teachers — will find ourselves teaching students with disabilities and possibly collaborating with special education teachers. It is almost certain that more students with disabilities will be included in classrooms with their nondisabled peers, and we need to understand how we can support them.
First, examine your own beliefs and assumptions about inclusion. Before true inclusion can take place, we must first understand our own beliefs and assumptions about it and acknowledge where we stand on the issue. In order for us to truly support students with disabilities in the inclusion classroom, we must determine the potential benefits of inclusivity.
To that end, I recommend reviewing the questionnaire for SHARE, which stands for Sharing Hopes, Attitudes, Responsibilities and Expectations. You can find it in the publication TEACHING Exceptional Children on the Council for Exceptional Children website in the article “Tips and Strategies for Co-Teaching at the Secondary Level.” I use it with my co-teacher to discuss expectations about co-teaching and supporting students with disabilities.
Next, tap in to the experts. Special education teachers, related service providers and paraprofessionals are great resources on how to work with students with disabilities. They are experts in their field and can help us understand what is needed to support these students. Each has a unique role and can provide information that will help us understand how to teach students in an inclusive setting.
For example, paraprofessionals can be a great resource for providing academic and behavioral supports by observing students, collecting data regarding students’ progress toward Individualized Education Program goals and identifying behavioral issues. Speech therapists understand students with expressive and receptive language issues and can help students with and without disabilities with classroom activities that support effective communication. Occupational therapists can help students develop their fine motor skills (for those with difficulty with handwriting or dysgraphia) and physical therapists can help students improve their gross motor developmental skills (such as navigating stairs). Don’t forget your school counselors and psychologists, especially when you have students with behavioral or social issues.
Also consult physical education and art teachers because students may demonstrate physical and artistic skills in these classes that may be transferable to your class. For example, in English language arts, a student with disabilities might not be able to write elaborate responses to an assignment, but given the option to demonstrate understanding graphically or artistically, he or she might perform well.
Conference with students often. While it is great to tap in to the experts, just remember that the person at the center of all this is the student. Students, especially those who are old enough to understand their disabilities, can be the best source of understanding how to support them.
Consider, for example, a secondary school student with ADD/ADHD. This child may know what triggers his or her distractions, inability to focus, or anxiety. Talking to the student about something as simple as preferential seating may provide helpful information about why the student acts out while sitting at the back of the classroom, becomes unfocused while sitting too close to the window or gets anxious while sitting up front.
I teach high school and, at the beginning of every school year, I conference with my students about what their needs are and how to advocate for themselves. I also ask them about the type of support they expect in the inclusion classroom. Also, who understands a child’s needs — academically, socially and emotionally — more than the parents and family members?
I use the vocational 1 interview form for students and parents as well as a student preference survey or student learning survey. You can find vocational 1 interview forms on the Special Education Student Information System or other forms on the Internet.
The IEP is your bible. Most general education teachers are probably now using SESIS to access students’ IEPs. Examine the IEPs of your students with disabilities early in the year so you know what services they are mandated to receive.
In my school, we created a document called the “IEP at a glance.” It provides basic but pertinent information about the student, such as disability classification, management needs, recommendations and accommodations, and any related services the child might be receiving. At least twice a year in my teacher team, I present each teacher with a copy for the students with disabilities in their classes and help them understand what’s in the IEP.
They love it. It not only helps them better understand their students’ needs but also helps them plan their instruction around the IEP goals.