As a parent of a child in a special education program, you are probably well aware of the individualized attention required in their schooling. When you sat down with the school to discuss your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP), the school explained the parameters for your child's education and progress based on their needs. What goes on behind the scenes to shape these programs?
Because charter schools are typically formed by teachers, parents and people within a community, some people assume that these schools do not have to follow the same rules as public schools. It's believed that some charter schools even practice "soft discrimination" by turning away children with disabilities and special needs in exchange for students who can bring test scores up and bring the school more funding.
An encouraging fact can be seen by looking at federal data concerning graduation rates in the United States. According to 2013 data -- the most recent year available -- the graduation rate among students with disabilities has risen by 2.9 percent over the last two years. A student with disabilities, which can include behavioral disorders as well as speech impairments, is more likely to graduate now than they did in the past.
Imagine for a moment that you are a parent here in Santa Cruz who has a child who has just started kindergarten. After a few weeks, your child's teacher pulls you in for a meeting and expresses concerns about your child's behaviors in class. They seem impulsive when it comes to making decisions which tends to disrupt classroom activities. Your child also demonstrates aggressive behaviors and tends to lash out at people, particularly when they become frustrated.
All but seven states and Puerto Rico have adopted the Common Core State Standards Initiative, including California. Lawmakers and other interested parties designed this initiative to ensure that students across the country are meeting certain standards for math and English language arts.
When most people think of the education system, they see a system that strives for excellence through standardized lesson plans that seem to have a one-size-fits-all regimen. While this might work for a majority of students, these types of lesson plans aren't always the best fit for students with disabilities. Lesson plans that don't tailor to their specific needs can cause the child's education to suffer, which can greatly handicap them down the road.
Did you know that in 1975, Congress promised to give schools in the nation additional funds so that accommodations could be made for students with special education needs? The additional funds were supposed to account for 40 percent of the "excess" cost of these accommodations, providing schools with the resources they need to provide special needs students with the education they deserve. Unfortunately, "the federal government has never paid more than 20 percent," explains a Feb. 19 article in Ed Source, leaving school districts and the state to foot most of the bill for education.
Imagine that you are a special education teacher working for a school district here California. An autistic student approaches you one day, visibly upset. They ask for a hug. Knowing that many autistic children respond better to touch than words, you oblige and give the student a hug.
Our children, no matter if they have a disability or not, deserve to have access to the best education possible. It's a belief we not only hold to be true but it's something all of our Santa Cruz readers hold in their hearts as well. But it's when we hear stories like the one below that we start to question if this is a belief the state holds true above all else as well.
An elementary school in Carlsbad is under scrutiny from the surrounding community this month because of accusations that the school violated the First Amendment rights of a special needs student who simply wanted to read the Bible during his reading time in class.