Monday, October 03, 2011

Trying to Understand Kate

Kate Martin said something - it's still unclear to me where she said it and in what context - but it is troubling.  One of our readers, Floor Pie, explained her reaction to it better than anything I could say so I'm printing her thread from her own blog. 

I can only hope that Kate can explain what she means and why she said what she did.

“ELL, Special Ed, and an assortment of behavioral problems are mainstreamed on the backs of average students.”

This from the school board candidate I was supporting. I’d put up a yard sign and everything. Now it looks like I might have to go out there in the rain and rip that sign out with my bare hands because, excuse me, “mainstreamed on the backs of average students”?!  

Sigh.

I mean…I get it. I do. Teachers are spread incredibly thin. The more variables you dump on them, the less time and energy they have to actually teach. And, for what it’s worth, I was that so-called average student back in the day, sitting stoically through the chaos, sometimes learning, sometimes not, counting the minutes until the dismissal bell. And now I’m an average mom with an exceptionally brilliant, anxious, super-charged, sensitive, anything-but-average little Aspergian.

I didn’t mainstream him on anybody’s back. I hadn’t intended to mainstream him at all. Believe it or not, we special ed parents are just as afraid of “average” students as you are of us. You think I want to expose my little boy-child to the teasing, the judgment, the scapegoating, the willful ignorance, the ostracism? I pulled him out of general ed last year, not even knowing where the hell the school district would reassign him and not caring, because I knew it had to be better than where we were. I had no idea he’d end up right back in another general ed classroom at a different school, mainstreamed before we’d even had a chance to de-mainstream.

But you know what? It’s working for him. With a supportive principal, a caring and dynamic classroom teacher, support from a well-equipped special ed staff, and one very, very engaged mother, inclusion is working for my son.

Is it working for his “average” classmates, upon whose backs he’s supposedly been mainstreamed? Hard to say. I’ll admit that sometimes The Boy can be a downright pain in the ass. But having spent a fair amount of time in that classroom, I’m quite confident that he’s not the only one. Kids bump up against each other in all kinds of ways in a school setting. They cry, they tattle, they tease, they shove, they make the most unpleasant sounds and smells.

It’s not so much that the “average” ones have to endure the different ones; it’s that they’re all enduring each other. For the most part, they really do adapt to each other’s quirks and differences. They adapt a whole lot better than the adults do, that’s for sure. And they adapt especially well when the adults set a tone for acceptance.

Inclusion doesn’t work when the teachers resent it, the principals don’t support it, and the special ed services are spread thin-to-nothing. It sure as hell doesn’t work when other parents regard our very presence in the classroom as a threat to their “average” students’ academic success.

But here’s the thing: Inclusion isn’t going away. The school district wants it, most of the special ed parents want it, and it’s on the right side of the law. You can complain about it, you can hightail it to private school, or you can get on board to help make it work. Advocate for better special ed services and support for classroom teachers. Educate yourself about your child’s classmates’ disabilities. Volunteer in your child’s classroom.

Or…just take a moment to smile and chat with the special ed mom on the playground, even if she doesn’t have a friendly look on her face. Chances are she’s too nervous to reach out to you. Let her know she’s welcome. Because she’s a lot like you. And there may come a time when your child finds herself on the wrong side of “average.” How will you want to be treated by other parents when that time comes? Will you want to be seen as a burden, a label, part of the problem? Or will you want acceptance and a sense of community? Might as well pay it forward.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a yard sign that needs removing.

End of thread by Floor Pie.  

86 comments:

Anonymous said...

IF your situation is working, then it is an accident.

IF your accident was happening everywhere for all kids, and it wasn't by accident but by some kind of intelligent design, then Kate would be really wrong.

THE SYSTEM is NOT working for all kids, whatever labels are applied to the kids. THE SYSTEM is working well for all the downtown clowns getting nice paychecks to institute 1 quick fix dumb policy after another.

I think you're taking 1 sentence far out of context.

If you think don't rock the boat deer in the headlights go along get along Sherry is going to change anything, I doubt it.

One Sentence

Anonymous said...

Floor pie, thank you.

The take-aways here are the principal's commitment and the teacher's saavy. Kate seems to be really ready to excuse teachers, principals, and downtown central office staff, when the reality is that inclusion is just fine when there is even a teeny tiny shred of accountability on the principal and teachers for making sure it happens.


Reader

SeattleSped said...

Having met with Kate and observed her efforts to better understand special education in our district, I feel she is educable, as are the other three challengers. I'll reprint her response below, distributed on the SpEd listserve:

Yes, I would probably agree with you that I misspoke, and I'm sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings or created divisiveness. I'm new, but I'm listening.

What I would like to see happen, if you agree, is that there should be more in-classroom support and smaller class sizes so that inclusion has a better chance of success for everyone. I have seen the divisiveness that can happen when there is not adequate support and all kids' needs aren't being served.

I hope to find out from SPED PTSA and SPED folks in general what they would like to see in the classroom and how we can serve the SPED needs as individuals successfully and not as a one-size fits all standardized response.

What is SPS getting wrong right now for SPED students? What could they do better? I've heard some talk about inadequate services, and I'd like to hear more about that. I've also heard different perspectives on pull out vs. inclusion -- what would the people like to see more of? Why? What would help it to be more successful? Is there anything SPED been advocating for that has fallen on non-listening ears?

I'd appreciate your help to further understand these issues, Mary. Thanks for messaging me for a response. I appreciate that.

-Kate


All I can say is, I've seen the incumbent's lack of interest or action with regards to special education. Do I go with the unknown, or stick with the malignant known? At least with Kate I know families have some influence with regards to orienting her on matters SpecEd.

I don't deny Floorpie's or any of our painful experiences. At least we can discuss these issues openly and work towards constructive change.

Anonymous said...

I can't see how somebody running for School Board could say such ignorant and rude things then, when confronted, backtrack with "well, I really want to sit down and find out what you want." This is so irresponsible. It does not build my confidence in this candidate.

Kate Martin has been meeting with SPED PTSA and SEAAC "folks." From what I have heard, they're all throwing up their hands. She believes what she wants to believe.

Melissa Westbrook said...

So there's a good question to Special Ed parents - how ARE the incumbents on this issue?

- do they know the issues
- do they listen to parents
- do they attend Special Ed PTSA meetings a couple of times a year

Anonymous said...

"So there's a good question to Special Ed parents - how ARE the incumbents on this issue?"

Except for Butrow, all the candidates ----incumbents and challengers---- distinctly avoid raising issues of accountability downtown. They all have that in common, to a one. Wouldn't you all like to have a job where nobody thinks you really have to make things better? Except for Butrow, the whole lot of them are giving Enfield and the people she manages a big free pass.

Unimpressed reader

Floor Pie said...

Yikes. I vented on my personal blog about this last night. I really didn't expect it to be this widely read and I certainly didn't intend for it to hurt Kate's campaign or to endorse Sherry Carr. On my blog post, I didn't even name the candidate who said it.

I don't know that Kate deserves to be singled out because, frankly, I think a lot of parents and teachers are thinking the same thing. Maybe they wouldn't necessarily say it out loud, but still. You get a sense of it. It hurt so much to see the words in print. I responded. I shared it with some other special ed parents. That's all.

The quote is from letter to 43rd District Democrats, dated September 20, 2011. From what I understand, other parents have talked to Kate about it and she has apologized for the unfortunate phrasing. Here is the whole paragraph for context:

"Students are not widgets. We need to challenge and inspire every single student and we certainly need more than one pathway for them to pursue their development. They each have their gifts that we need to celebrate as well as their deficits that we need to remediate. 75% of students are average with huge potential to be above average, yet they go mostly neglected in classrooms where they don’t get to realize even a fraction of their per pupil funding. Most of these classrooms are inadequately staffed. ELL, Special Ed, and an assortment of behavioral problems are mainstreamed on the backs of average students. Average students deserve to have teachers make it to their desks, too. We can’t leave ¾ of the students behind while we attend to another group. Beware the report card that says your kid is a pleasure to have in class."

dan dempsey said...

Ah yes the problem of trying to figure out what a candidate will do once elected.

So what was the context and why was it said and what does it indicate?

“ELL, Special Ed, and an assortment of behavioral problems are mainstreamed on the backs of average students.”

==========
I will say only this about behavior problems...

Read RCW 28A 600.020

....(2) Any student who creates a disruption of the educational process in violation of the building disciplinary standards while under a teacher's immediate supervision may be excluded by the teacher from his or her individual classroom and instructional or activity area for all or any portion of the balance of the school day, or up to the following two days, or until the principal or designee and teacher have conferred, whichever occurs first.

....(3) In order to preserve a beneficial learning environment for all students and to maintain good order and discipline in each classroom, every school district board of directors shall provide that written procedures are developed for administering discipline at each school within the district. Such procedures shall be developed with the participation of parents and the community, and shall provide that the teacher, principal or designee, and other authorities designated by the board of directors, make every reasonable attempt to involve the parent or guardian and the student in the resolution of student discipline problems. Such procedures shall provide that students may be excluded from their individual classes or activities for periods of time in excess of that provided in subsection (2) of this section if such students have repeatedly disrupted the learning of other students..

===========
Many building administrators ... prefer that teachers not apply RCW 28A 600.020....

Then the result often becomes a situation that could hardly be described as a beneficial learning environment for all students.
===========

I've taught with an Asperger's Syndrome child in my classroom in grade 7 ... no problem. The problem is not with mainstreaming... the problem is often with building administration and the failure to ..... provide .. written procedures .. developed for administering discipline at each school.
======

There certainly are significant challenges associated with effectively teaching Special Education and ELL students. Is the District currently doing an effective job with Special Ed students?

All I know is that during the Goodloe-Johnson era ... Spec. Ed. student OSPI annual test scores declined noticeably.

In math Limited English Speakers have had a lot of difficulty... The use of textbooks with very few examples and not enough practice has been particularly problematic.

With this district's instructional materials and practices coupled with the "differentiated instruction model" it is hard to tell what is happening to the backs of Seattle's average students.

Whatever it is.... in grades 3,4,5 .... Auburn is doing a lot better as in 24 to ZERO better.

Same for Clover Park in Math at grades 3,4,5
and high school
=========

Sorry but I cannot support Sherry Carr.... she has four years of significant shortcomings.

I would need a lot more information than how this one sentence from Ms. Martin might be interpreted to change my position.

SeattleSped said...

Marty McClaren is getting the same tutoring as Michelle Beutow has diligently pursued. Sharon Peaslee has intimate understanding of special education given her family situation.

The incumbents have "passed" for four years. When I confronted Peter Maier regarding his request for a "roadmap" from the hapless Marni Campbell, he promptly passed the buck to the committee where actions die, the Curriculum and Instruction Committee run by Harium Martin-Morris. Is it any wonder nothing improves under these guys?

Anonymous said...

The incumbents have been educated. But they've never voted to squelch any of the hairbrained initiatives, like ICS. And no, they don't show up for anything. Mary Bass was the last one to do that regularly. Betty Patu and Michael DeBell are the most clued in. They are not up for re-election.

As to Kate. Hard to know what she thinks, or how she would be. There isn't going to be smaller class sizes. You can't rely on reduced class size to be your answer for special education. Of course there can be more "in class support", and there used to be. But the new way, which spreads kids out everywhere, doesn't support adequate "in class support". Who is going to pull the trigger on that?

As to Kate saying some people want pull-out. That should not be a deal-breaker. That is absolutely true. Not every kid needs the same thing, and she is right in her assessment that some kids need that and families want pull-out and aren't getting it. That's exactly the point. I in IEP, and I in IDEA, is individual.

But what's up with the "mentors" thing? Why is that even an issue at all for a school board member? It's really out in left field.

Right on Reader. A tiny shred of give-a-hoot from a teacher and principal goes a mighty long ways.

-Another Reader

dan dempsey said...

A tiny shred of give-a-hoot from a teacher and principal goes a mighty long ways.

Amen to that.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I attended the Special Education PTSA candidates forum last week. We were impressed with Butrow. We are almost sucker-punched, though, when Martin stood up and told us that her kids (both typically developing) would have loved a little pull out now and then (or maybe she said they would have benefitted). She said "be careful what you wish for." Well, I carefully wish that Kate would stop these frivolous statements. Somebody should talk to her about discrimination. Does she think pullouts are happening in some sort of shangri-la out here? "Out" has a whole lot of baggage when it comes to special ed students in our general education classrooms.

Our daugher is pulled out to learn specific skills. Nobody gives two hoots whether she generalizes them once she comes back to the general education classroom. Nobody cares what she misses when she is "pulled out." There are no real expectations.

So the issue is whether there is geniune accountability for our children's educaton in general education classrooms. Kate, you just don't get it.


Frustrated.

Anonymous said...

Well Dan, it's true behavior problems can be excluded from classrooms. BUT, there's also a few things that have to be considered before you may exclude him. (It's always a "him", isn't it?)Tjese are covered under IDEA. Is the student's behavior a manifestation of his disability? Has the student had a functional behavior assessment(FBA)? Does the student have a "behavior intervention plan" (BIP)? If a student is "excluded" for long enough (10 days in a year), then there is a required hearing: a manifestation determination hearing, where they figure out if the behavior is due to a disability or not.

You can't exclude a student for manifesting his disability until you've done everything on his BIP. The point of a BIP is to teach the student to behave correctly, because he isn't able to do that himself due to a disability. The building administration's procedures are not the correct documents that pertain to a student manifesting behavior due to his disability. The BIP is the document which tells you what you are supposed to do. You, as his teacher, are part of the team that decides on the BIP, agrees to the BIP, and implements the BIP. You are not entitled to simply pawn the student off on the administration or refer to some code of conduct. It isn't about discipline. It's about education.

Students with disabilities can still be excluded. But you've gotta do the BIP first, and all of it, and collect all the data showing your efforts.

-sped parent

Wow. 1 kid with Aspergers back in 7th grade. You're pretty out of touch. Rates of autism are now at around 1%. You'd be seeing WAY more than 1 kid nowadays. And if you've taught 1 kids with autism, well, you've taught 1 kid. It's no basis for generalization.

dan dempsey said...

Sped Parent thanks for the legal information.

What is with the insulting attack?

"Wow. 1 kid with Aspergers back in 7th grade. You're pretty out of touch. Rates of autism are now at around 1%. You'd be seeing WAY more than 1 kid nowadays."

What a sweeping generalization... You're pretty out of touch.

My wife teaches Multiply Handicapped Special Education Students in Kindergarten. We have frequent discussions.

Yes there are a lot more children diagnosed with Autism these days. Is it better screening that has attributed to this increase? Who knows. The documentary "Sweet Misery" thinks Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, introduced in 1983 may be a factor. Aspartame has some effect on the blood brain barrier.

Floor Pie said...

Dan, this is my favorite theory about why autism is on the rise:

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aspergers_pr.html

"One thing nearly everyone in the field agrees on: genetic predisposition. Identical twins share the disorder 9 times out of 10."

"In another age, these men would have been monks, developing new ink for printing presses. Suddenly, they're reproducing at a much higher rate."

Check out the whole article if you have time. It's fascinating. And, if true, it makes a very strong case for Seattle Public Schools to get a better handle on serving autistic children.

Floor Pie said...

Oops. Try this one:
http://tinyurl.com/1oi

Anonymous said...

Dear Floor Pie,

Thanks for the link.

"Through the '90s, cases tripled in California. "Anyone who says this is due to better diagnostics has his head in the sand."

The timing of this increase is very interesting. Not just for the introduction and widespread use of Aspartame but also the almost simultaneous increase in computer software employment in the high tech hotbeds ... where big increases in Autistic kids are prevalent.

We'd best discourage diet soft drinks in these geek-intensive areas.

-- Dan D.

Anonymous said...

Dan it isn't an insult. I'm just saying, if you've only had 1 student with autism in your class, you clearly haven't been teaching for a while. And, there's plenty of kids with "real Autism", not just Aspergers, in general ed too. Aspergers is actually being removed from the DSM-V as a diagnosis at all. Students with autism have tremendous variability. There isn't much information that can be drawn from 1 student.

To my mind, a huge increase in the "amount of autism" is the move to standardization in our schools. And, standardization of everything. People who don't fit a standard, are now considered disabled. The notion of disability is a cultural one. Variability is natural. Standard isn't.

-sped parent

dj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric B said...

...I'm sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings or created diviseness...

This is one of my major pet peeves. Someone has called you out because you hurt their feelings and created divisiveness. The absolute least you can do is give a straightforward apology that doesn't place the blame on the offended person. Without the "if", this is an apology. With it, it's an attempt to sweep the complaint under the rug.

IMHO, of course.

anonymous said...

"Yes, I would probably agree with you that I misspoke, and I'm sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings or created divisiveness"

How many times will Kate have to apologize for misspeaking? She already had to backpedal her way out of her "misspoken" words on APP.

FWIW

Anonymous said...

after reading Floor Pie's fuller quote from Kate, I am even more convinced that she believes the most vulnerable students get all the attention while "average" ones, such as (insert your kid's name), are ignored. This common attitude creates divisions and fosters bigotry.

Missing Link said...

Sherry Carr may have never offended anyone in what she says because she never says anything of substance. She does not take a stance on anything. At least with Kate, there's ongoing dialogue.

I'm more offended with Sherry's voting record. She approves everything central office wants without any regard to students.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you Reader. I don't think Ms. Martin's belief is any different in this area than the silent majority (parents, teachers, administrators, principals), but she is at least willing to say it publicly. If you need to court voters and supporters, you'll want the 75% supporters. Inclusion where there is benefit and exclusion where there is little benefit for the 75%, especially in lean times. Democracy and its tyranny.

Voter

mirmac1 said...

"Inclusion where there is benefit and exclusion where there is little benefit for the 75%, especially in lean times. Democracy and its tyranny."

WTF?! Is this the tyranny of the majority? Or are basic civil rights for those different than you somehow tyrannical? That's like saying minorities can vote as long as it's for your candidate. Or let the uninsured die because their medical bills don't benefit the rest of us. Your comment is offensive.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac,
It should offend. That's the point. We are allowing it to happen. That is why we have laws to safeguard these things. What happens though when laws are not enforced? Or when we choose to ignore them because of funding issues or lack of will to because it is easier to ignore the few.

Voter

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Melissa for expressing concerns about a candidate she's been in support of - it's easy to keep dancing with the one what brung ya and is an example of what I like about her that she'll always put facts first.

General comment - Sherry Carr studied and advocated for special education in the CACIEE committee in 2006 (e.g., for funding to go where it belonged), and at the same time (not for the committee but as president of the city-wide PTA Seattle Council) worked with parents and staff to create the Special Education PTA that exists today.

Before she was even on the school board.

I don't think you can lay Marni Campbell at the foot of the board - nor every thing that goes right or wrong for your child in the school s/he attends is the responsibility of the board. (I for one am pretty over the moon with the attention my IEP student is getting at Roosevelt - but the line from board to sup't to HS ed director to Brian Vance to the great staff I've seen - Chad Barnes, Tim Comstock and Bob Jackland among others gets mighty indirect and so I would not necessarily thank the board for it).

And just as an aside - I agree with Eric B 100% about non-apology apologies - they might even be worse than saying nothing at all.

And speaking of saying nothing - it's funny that usually a challenger gets to campaign and be elected by saying almost nothing at all, or demonstrating any fitness for the job - yet even with that advantage, Kate is offending, "apologizing", and promising to learn, be different, do better, etc.

Imagine what she'd be like on the board with free rein.

mom of 4 in SPS

Anonymous said...

I attended the special ed PTSA candidate forum.

I have to say that it was the best candidate forum I have ever sat through. Kudos to the organizers for informative printed material, good question format, and keeping on time. Since the topic was special ed, it took the candidates away from their talking points, very refreshing.

Michelle Butrow was the most impressive candidate up there. She had obviously been investigating sped issues for awhile. She knew what they were & articulated changes & solutions. Harium was the least impressive as he took credit for pointing the district in the right direction with ICS & then ducked responsibility for the implementation blaming budget shortfalls for the problems. He basically said to expect things to get worse.

Kate had not done her homework & seemed out of her depth. I actually really like her emphasis on thinking of kids as individuals, but her ideas of what that looks like were underdeveloped. Sherry threw in the correct terminology, but did bring in her talking points, instead of addressing the issues, which I thought was out of place.

Sharon is more on top of things sped than Peter. Peter also took credit for ICS acknowledging some small issues with implementation. Sharon knew the issues were broader than that. Peter mentioned his membership in special ed PTSA. I am not sure that he attends meetings.

Marty had very few answers, she also brought up her talking points. Mostly she said that she would listen to parents. Steve was not there.

These are just my impressions, I did not take notes. I did feel that I got a better read on the candidates than when they are talking about the issues they want to talk about.

-parent of sped & advanced learning kids

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...

You know what? I wasn't going to vote for Kate, I don't agree with 1/2 of what she says. But I've changed my mind. I think she is gutsy and fiery and I like that.

I like that she takes a stand on issues, and isn't scared to say what she has to say. Even when it isn't popular, even when it isn't PC, and even when it sometimes leaves you scratching your head.

She isn't rehearsed, and doesn't have canned remarks ready for every question, but rather speaks from her gut, and is impulsive. I also think she bases many of her opinions on her own personal everyday experiences in SPS. I kinda like that- she feels genuine, and real, and average, and imperfect, in a very authentic kind of way.

I'd much rather have a director who says what she has to say and stands up for what she believes in (even if I don't agree with her position) than one that stays quiet, appeases, and doesn't want to make any waves. At least I will always know exactly where Kate stands. And as long as she is approachable, and open to dialogue with the greater community, and willing to fully educate herself on issues, and I think she is and will, then I think she will be a breath of fresh air on the school board.

So Kate, as of today, you have my vote.

new supporter

mirmac1 said...

Voter,

Uhh, oh I get it. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Why does so much of our system rest on having awesome teachers? Unless you have an awesome teacher, it probably doesn't work well....mainstreaming or differentiation. (An interesting discussion on differentiation yesterday in the NYT, probably worth a thread.)

It's more than teachers who give a hoot that we need. It's rock star teachers. But of course, we can't evaluate them because it wouldn't be fair.

We need a system that works when teachers are just average.

It will be hard to convince me that an average teacher can manage a classroom with kids that require a huge amount of attention and still do right by everyone else. Either the kid who needs lots of attention won't get it, or will only get the wrong kind of attention (frustration directed at him by the teacher and classmates), and/or the kids that sit at their desks ready and anxious to learn get the short shrift, or all of the above.

I have just a little experience from volunteering in classes so I am eager to read from those who know more, but what I have seen from supposedly "great" teachers is kids at the low end being shuffled off to volunteers and tutors (with little or no direction from the teacher) and being told repeatedly to behave better, and kids who are eager to learn drumming their fingers in frustration (not just due to kids who disrupt but to lack of differentiation in the curriculum), and the kids who need motivation to learn kind of getting by.

It's like it takes a certain amount of energy to do right by all kids, and the laws of physics limit what can be done in a class of a give size with varying needs. Since more money for smaller classes doesn't seem to be in the offing, is there a better way to group kids to improve things? Maybe by skill level rather than age? Fluid groupings that change as skills are acquired? But that doesn't answer the question of what to do with a child that would benefit from 50% of the teacher's available energy. If that 50% isn't forthcoming, what happens to the kid? And if it is, what happens to everyone else?

I don't have a solution, unfortunately. But I sure see a problem.

SPS mom

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...I spent a lot of time in my child's classroom last year. He had an autistic child in his class who made frequent disruptions/distractions. The autistic child made fantastic progress last year both academically and socially, thanks to his teacher's attention and excellent special ed staff. But if you think he didn't take time/energy/focus/teaching away from other students in the class, you're kidding yourselves. A teacher has a finite amount of time during the day and I don't think anyone would argue that she spent a disproportionate amount of time with one student. I agree that inclusion is the right model in most cases, but there is a cost, whether you want to acknowledge it or not.

Maybe Kate shouldn't have said what she said (and it was more hyperbolic than necessary) but I don't think you can just dismiss it as false. It's important to understand the full picture of the issues to find the right solutions for everyone, methinks.

SPS parent

Jane Passing Through said...

Several points here:

1)Melissa, it's common courtesy to TELL a fellow blogger if you're going to post something in its entirety on your own blog, ESPECIALLY if you're going to add details like naming the candidate in questions. That way Floor Pie wouldn't have been surprised this morning.

2)Floor Pie, I'm confused-your blog post basically says you're done supporting Kate and here you are saying no, she apologized and you're good. I don't get it.

3)This is what happens, people, when the mentality is "Anyone but the imcumbent." Be careful what you wish for.

4)Some of us who do NOT support the "anyone but the imcumbent" slate have been saying for weeks that Kate is a loose cannon and here is MORE proof (APP blog anyone?).

5)She doesn't have my vote but it sure would be interesting to see her make such statements once on the board and have to keep apologizing and explaining herself, while her followers start working on the next miracle candidate to replace her.

Anonymous said...

Caution: We might be practicing too much political correctness here, or inferring too much from Kate's comment. I have my differences with Kate, and what she said was not very thoughtful, but by now we should know she likes to speak in slogans a lot, so I'm not too surprised she said something controversial.

To me, her point echoed complaints made on last week's Open Thread Tuesday, where a few parents complained that some classes have almost 50% kids wih IEPs compared to others with 1 or 2, and so, from that standpoint, some classes were unfairly shouldering more of the "burden" than others, which, from a resource standpoint, deprives both groups. Those parents were simply calling for balance and thoughtful placements, which I think is entirely reasonable.

Any classroom can become unbalanced and dysfunctional, and from a time and resource standpoint, fail to meet the needs of all kids in the classroom. I think Kate was thinking of those classrooms when she spoke, but she certainly put her foot in her mouth. It's ultimately, as Charlie mentioned, a ongoing balancing act of keeping things from going over the tipping point.

To any and all special ed/IEP parents who worry those comments reflect wider sentiments, I can assure you they don't. I am proud of the fact that the public schools provide services to EVERY kid in their community, at whatever needs level that kid is at, and most people I know feel the same way. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Jane passing through - I don't get the feeling anyone thinks Kate is a magic candidate. But this race - several of the races - seems like choosing the person who will be less damaging.
- I Just Wanna Slow the Bleeding

Chris S. said...

I'm with new supporter. Kate's weakness is perhaps also her biggest asset - plain-spoken and a bit hot-headed.

I've been thinking lately, spurred, I think by the report from the disastrously depressing C & I meeting that we need someone who can scare staff into behaving. Not gonna be Peter or Harium or Steve. While Sherry is the "best" incumbent, it's clear staff is confident she is all words and maybe some smoke coming out of her hears, but no danger of bite whatsoever.

Staff/supers do whatever they want. THAT is the problem.

Anonymous said...

I too think there is a balancing game SPS parent. However, as many Spec Ed parents have posted here, depending on each child's needs, you may have inclusion and pull out to meet that child's needs. The teachers do have a dancing game in how much time to give to the individual child, a small group, and the larger class as a whole.

Where I see it worked well is when you have a teacher who has good classroom management skills, set the tone for structure and understanding, has the support of his/her principal and the spec ed staff and parent volunteers. The class size was between 24-25 kids. It worked well not just for the individual child, but for kids with behavorial problems w/out IEP and the rest of the class. I witnessed this in my child's classrooms for several years where we had a few kids with IEPs, one with more significant needs. There were kids in the class who just had natural empathy and wanted to help this kid by sitting next to the child, would stay close to the child during fieldtrip and assembly, would help him locate his workbook, pencil, etc., and would stay calm when he's upset. The teachers were careful not to burden any one child. The classroom used this strategy as a whole to help one another and to deal with behavorial issues other kids may have. It is learning to cope together. It may come at some cost, but in that cost, there maybe a greater gain. I like to say it worked in other classrooms, but didn't because class size got larger and/or did not have the teacher with those skill sets. Our school also went through changes, has a new principal, many new teachers (including new spec ed teacher), and lost some of the teachers who had those skill sets.

voter

SeattleSped said...

Thanks WSDWG. I too noted the Tuesday Open Thread and heard what Bring On had to say.

Juana said...

Maybe this being too simple, but in my mind, if I want more of the same then I vote for the incumbents. However, if I want a change, then I vote for the contenders. To have four more years of Sundquist, Maier, Martin-Morris doesn't seem prudent. I want to people who challenge or at the least inquire deeply central administration activities and decisisons.

Anonymous said...

PS to Melissa - I did not mean to imply I thought you were changing your support for Kate - and don't really expect you to.

I was just thinking you for maintaining objectivity and continuing to evaluate the information to the bitter end, which I think you will do.

mom of 4 in sps

concerned said...

Thank you Floor Pie for the wonderful article. Much of it has felt obvious to me for many years now, but it's great to find some acknowledgement with history and depth.

Wired: Autism/Asperger's, surging among the children of Silicon Valley. Are math-and-tech genes to blame?

Every geek and every APP parent should read this for some enlightenment. If these descriptions don't fit your kid, they probably fit the kid sitting next to them. My (non-research backed) opinion is that will get worse before it gets better, thanks to the assortative mating (see the article). It may be that your family is not there yet, but you're setting the stage for the next generation. I worry about this, but what can you do? Encourage your kid to find someone they don't mesh with? Push them into a non-technical career so they don't meet like-minded spousal material?

More to the topic, issues of ICS, classroom management, and the backs of the "average students", this is a difficult issue for many people because there are competing interests. SpEd in general (not just autism) takes more resources than GenEd, that's just the reality of it. So if you move to an ICS model without providing extra resources someone is getting less-than-ideal service, either the GenEd kids or the SpEd kid(s). Most likely they all are. This is not to say that there aren't benefits to all the kids to having a diverse classroom, because I know there can be. But without extra adults in a classroom, when one or two kids take a disproportionate amount of the teacher's time, by definition that means they don't have as much time for the rest of the kids. And yes, this happens in classes without any designated SpEd kids as well, it's a problem there too.

Like SPS Mom, I don't have any magic solutions, but there's certainly a problem, and many people (like the Board) seem to want to ignore it or sweep it under the carpet. I don't know how long we can continue to do that.

concerned said...

Thank you Floor Pie for the wonderful article. Much of it has felt obvious to me for many years now, but it's great to find some acknowledgement with history and depth.

Wired: Autism/Asperger's, surging among the children of Silicon Valley. Are math-and-tech genes to blame?

Every geek and every APP parent should read this for some enlightenment. If these descriptions don't fit your kid, they probably fit the kid sitting next to them. My (non-research backed) opinion is that will get worse before it gets better, thanks to the assortative mating (see the article). It may be that your family is not there yet, but you're setting the stage for the next generation. I worry about this, but what can you do? Encourage your kid to find someone they don't mesh with? Push them into a non-technical career so they don't meet like-minded spousal material?

More to the topic, issues of ICS, classroom management, and the backs of the "average students", this is a difficult issue for many people because there are competing interests. SpEd in general (not just autism) takes more resources than GenEd, that's just the reality of it. So if you move to an ICS model without providing extra resources someone is getting less-than-ideal service, either the GenEd kids or the SpEd kid(s). Most likely they all are. This is not to say that there aren't benefits to all the kids to having a diverse classroom, because I know there can be. But without extra adults in a classroom, when one or two kids take a disproportionate amount of the teacher's time, by definition that means they don't have as much time for the rest of the kids. And yes, this happens in classes without any designated SpEd kids as well, it's a problem there too.

Like SPS Mom, I don't have any magic solutions, but there's certainly a problem, and many people (like the Board) seem to want to ignore it or sweep it under the carpet. I don't know how long we can continue to do that.

Anonymous said...

"Like SPS Mom, I don't have any magic solutions, but there's certainly a problem, and many people (like the Board) seem to want to ignore it or sweep it under the carpet."

What is being swept under the carpet is that everybody seems to think it is inclusion to blame, instead of crappy administrators and management who don't do their jobs and are never held accountable. Nobody on this blog even seems to understand that living breathing technical support specialists exists downtown and are never ever seen in the buildings and nobody is held accountable for this. Ed directors pass you off to special ed, special ed passes you off to ed directors and your principal. Susan Enfield smiles big. It is dreadful to see all these posts saying that inclusion is to blame. Inclusion is not to blame, people not doing their jobs is to blame. That is my problem with Kate and all the current directors too -- they just don't want staff to be accountable.

Parent

concerned said...

everybody seems to think it is inclusion to blame

I think you need to read a little more carefully: inclusion without additional resources is a problem.

That is my problem with Kate and all the current directors too -- they just don't want staff to be accountable.

I don't agree with Kate on all the issues, nor the way she has handled herself recently, but if there's one person that will hold staff accountable, it's her. At least to the extent one director can do so. Certainly more than any of the incumbents.

I can accept that people will back different candidates for different reasons, but what you're saying here is incongruous with everything I've seen and read over the past few years. It's obvious you've had some bad experiences with SPS administration. Welcome to the club.

Anonymous said...

Parent, you wrote "Nobody on this blog even seems to understand that living breathing technical support specialists exists downtown and are never ever seen in the buildings and nobody is held accountable for this. Ed directors pass you off to special ed, special ed passes you off to ed directors and your principal. Susan Enfield smiles big. It is dreadful to see all these posts saying that inclusion is to blame. Inclusion is not to blame, people not doing their jobs is to blame. "

Don't think people are blaming inclusion or don't see inadequate support in the schools and classrooms. Many are trying hard to ask and find answers about balance. It's getting beyond what our elected officials and their challengers say what they believe and think. It is figuring out what they are doing/not doing now, have done/not done, or are going to do/not do that is bedeveling many of us.

voter

Anonymous said...

"Like SPS Mom, I don't have any magic solutions, but there's certainly a problem, and many people (like the Board) seem to want to ignore it or sweep it under the carpet."

What SPS Mom, and others are failing to see - we aren't leaving. We would if we could, but we can't. So, you can say "Oh this doesn't work." or "Oh it only works if there's that contraint. Eg. Samller classes, more people, groupings by some other constraint, certain types of curriculum, etc". As Floor Pie correctly points out, we're here to stay, and it behooves all of us to insist on something that works. People aren't going for the re-grouping that results in re-self-containment. The multi-tiered systems we have had resulted in sped self-contained classes at the very bottom of that pile. And if you think they're somehow good, go look at one and imagine it was your kid in there - doing the same thing year after year after year, with the same 3 peers, and the same same teacher and same single room, for years on end. When they produce so little results, why would anybody want it for their kid? Guess what? They don't want it. (at least many don't) And they don't have to put up with it. The worst case scenario: a kid can do nothing in general ed just as easily as he/she can do nothing in a self-contained special ed class. Why would they choose self-contained?

Instead of looking for a super-teacher, you need to look for a classroom that is universally accessible. Universal design. That is, accessible at many different levels, that accommodates a wide range of learners. As class size grows, it becomes more and more obvious that it is necessary.... not less necessary. More kids = more differing needs.

And no it isn't "inclusion" that is to blame, or even "crappy administrators". It's clinging to the notion that a teacher somehow is a dispenser of a linear stream of information (aka "lessons"), where students simply absorb the stream in the correct order, and then are done. In that notion, the poor sped kid will be stuck in the first stages of the stream, and at worst, will screw it up for everyone else. Learning is an interactive process, and each student gives and takes what he/she can from the experience. Inclusion is about membership and participation in the process.

-another parent

Bird said...

Does the SPED PTSA or some other advocacy organization have a plan for how they'd like sped to improve?

I don't have any direct experience with how sped works in SPS and, while I hear from time to time that what the district does isn't working, I don't know what would work, or what the vision for the future is or the stages required to get there.

I'd love to help advocate for improvement, but I can't because I don't know where we should be going.

Anonymous said...

Concerned said "... but if there's one person that will hold staff accountable, it's her." (meaning Kate)

Here's my experience - we don't know what the sup't, the board, or the dept mgrs are saying to staff out of our hearing, out of the public meetings - and if we think we see everything, we are naive.

Do we really think they're going to air personnel issues with us just because we demand it? Tell us what was really the issue with Martin Floe at Ingraham? They have more legal liability in personnel issues than we could imagine - which is not an excuse for not holding people accountable, but it takes much more deftness and process than holding a sit-in in a high school office.

Even if directors were inspired to criticize staff in public, my guess is they would do so only carefully, because anyone who has managed even one person knows what people can do when unwilling, incapable, and/or disgruntled - and they know the process to move them out is long and onerous.

Which hits two of my issues with Kate - she has no experience in running anything close to a bilion dollar enterprise nor managing people in an organization that size; and I have multiple personal experiences with her "tell it like it is" manner and how it goes over.

mom of 4 in sps

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Sherry Carr was on CACIEE - but that was no win for special education. And I surely wouldn't say "studied". It didn't go anywhere so maybe no damage was done. She took almost no input from parents, understood next to nothing we told her, and in the end, the CACIEE said exactly one group of students should have their services cut - special ed students. She drafted a bunch of recommendations which included things that could never happen - like cutting services for students with disabilities at age 18. Federal law says they've gotta be served until age 21. Sherry didn't care, she didn't know anything about that. So - cut away. Looks to save money. Got to your local schools, cut the bus. Ooops. Special ed students have door-to-door transportation as a pesky federal requirement too, no savings there either. What's the point of recommendation if you know nothing about the field you're recommending in? That would be like me, making recommendations on the tunnel. Talk about "on the backs" of somebody. For Sherry Carr - that somebody was special ed. The CACIEE was a joke. But hey, it saved Montlake.

But, it isn't all bad. Sherry did help set up the sped ptsa, and maybe she knows more now than she did then.

-sped parent

Anonymous said...

Voter says: "Inclusion where there is benefit and exclusion where there is little benefit for the 75%"

I'm also unsure of what voter is saying. I think many parents are seeing it the other way around: inclusion where the exclusion shows little benefit. "Little benefit" you can get in lots of places, might as well be in the mainstream. And since "the mainstream" is the strong prefernce of the law, it's getting harder and harder for the district to say no.

-another parent

Anonymous said...

It's clinging to the notion that a teacher somehow is a dispenser of a linear stream of information (aka "lessons"), where students simply absorb the stream in the correct order, and then are done.

Another parent: Who really believes or exemplifies that anymore? I can't think of one blog post in 4 years where this notion is embraced, advocated, or clung to, with the exception of myself and others favoring a more linear approach in math curricula, vs the spiraling everyday/discovery math.

The world may appear "linear" to someone who learns better a different way, but I really think that 1950's style, stand in front of the class, rigid, straw-man teacher argument is overblown. They didn't teach that way when I was in school in the 70's and 80's, and I haven't seen it once in any of my kids classes.

Some teachers may follow a template, and not be as nimble on their feet, spontaneous, and creative as others, but anyone teaching currently has been educated and trained in several different methods and styles of teaching, to best reach the greatest number of kids. WSDWG

dan dempsey said...

"We need a system that works when teachers are just average. "

Amen to that .... 'cause we are not in the Lake Wobegone School District.

LWSD where all the children are above average and all the teachers are also.

Anonymous said...

Another parent, response was in to Floor Pie's posting @ 10/3, 9:48 PM of Ms. Martin's statement. Like Floor Pie and many others, I am trying to figure it out.

Voter

Bird said...

What was the CACIEE?

Bird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Two posters seem to like Beutow from the forum. Or at least she didn't tick everybody off. Why? What did she offer that the other candidates didn't or that hasn't been addressed here? Or was she just the best of a bad lot. Curious.

-skeptical-

SeattleSped said...

Skeptical,

Beutow has done her homework, talked to many SpEd parents, and taken a close look at the status quo.

Anonymous said...

One slightly off-topic point: there's a stereotype going around this discussion that I see a lot--that all special ed students are behavior problems. Special ed students are as different from one another as general ed students are. Some have distracting behaviors; some don't. Disabilities aren't all visible.

Also: ICS is not true inclusion. The district is dismantling what were successful best-practice inclusion programs in the process of instituting ICS. (Which might not actually be any cheaper in the end, but that's another topic.) One of my problems with Sherry Carr is that she conflates the two when I know she knows better. Until very recently she was trying to pass off ICS as one of the district's "achievements."

True inclusion, adequately supported, can benefit all students. And I don't mean in just touchy-feely PC ways. There are extra hands on deck who circulate and end up helping out all the kids in a class. My younger child's kindergarten teacher shows *all* her kids how to use sensory tools to help them concentrate, or slow down their engine, or help their impulse control.

--ics parent

Susan B said...

Melissa,

I think you are taking a comment too personally given your situation since I don't take that as an attack on Special Ed/Special Needs kids. I take it as an attack on SPS for mainstreaming kids without the proper support in place and classes that are way too large for a teacher with no help to make it work.

My daughter's class last year was 28 kids - 4 of whom had special needs with 2 of those being extremely disruptive. It was not a great year for ANY of them! Never once last year did I hear parents have anything but sympathy for how those 4 kids AND their parents were treated. However, it was obvious to me that a whole bunch of kids weren't being challenged given the situation. The 2 disruptive kids were constantly sent to the Principal or stuck (literally) in the corner. That made me sicker than the "average" kids languishing.

"But you know what? It’s working for him. With a supportive principal, a caring and dynamic classroom teacher, support from a well-equipped special ed staff, and one very, very engaged mother, inclusion is working for my son."

So, I'm glad it's working for YOUR kid. That's not the case for a lot of OUR kids. There are many, many, many parents who are not engaged or committed to making this work. There are many, many schools without the resources you mention in the above quote.

I am surprised you of all people would pit the parents of "average" kids against the parents of special needs kids. I think you could have had a better post if you asked for ways to improve inclusion/mainstreaming given the lack of resources and large class sizes instead.

SeattleSped said...

Susan B,

You've confused the poster. Floorpie originated the post (indirectly I might add). It has generated good discussion and, I hope, informed some.

Melissa Westbrook said...

First, I'm out of town and wasn't able to contact Floor Pie (I may have missed her contact info at her blog but I looked.) As a blogger, I assume most people know that once it's "send", it's out there in ether.

I printed this thread for two reasons. We have an election going on and it's important to know what candidates think. That Kate apppears to have a more pronounced view than other candidates is yours to assess for your own vote.

I am glad for Kate's outspokenness. I think she probably needs to phrase things more carefully and study the issues more but I'd rather have someone who is straightforward than someone who mouths words and platitudes in a vague manner.

The second reason is because Special Ed gets shunted off to the side a lot. I'm glad to heard their forum was so good.

"Instead of looking for a super-teacher, you need to look for a classroom that is universally accessible"

I believe this quote is from Another Parent and I say that's it in a nutshell. Inclusion without resources is not going to work. It's especially not going to work in bigger classrooms.

The autism issue - such a big one. The Asperger's as autism is a big one (and I know some Aspie's who do NOT want it taken off the autism spectrum). It's hard to have a kid with Asperger's because there's a spectrum of behavior there as well. But this country is going to have to get a grip on what is happening because this is not going away and districts who actually serve these students well are getting an influx of new students from districts who don't. That's not going to work for long. (I read an article some time back in the NY Times about a district in New Jersey, flooded with students with autism - some of whose parents moved just for the school district from out of state - because of their fine services.)

The CAICEE was a committee (and the acronymn completely escapes me now) set up by then-Super Raj Manhas to review each part of the district. It was a good committee with most smart people (like Sherry Carr) and yes, it got shelved. Their report, like Moss-Adams, had clear ideas about what the district should do and yet, most of it, to my knowledge, did not get done.

I appreciate this good discussion.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that I did not take notes, so that I can not give specific examples. Hopefully someone else can do that.

Michelle was impressive
because she knew what the problems were. She talked knowledgeably about many issues affecting sped from the assignment plan to the structure of the sped department. She had obviously been investigating.

This is what I hope for in a board member. That when parents come to them with problems, especially when numerous parents tell them about a problem, they investigate & find out what is going on, instead of just asking staff for their opinion.

Michelle also had specific remedies for some of the problems. Whether she can sway the rest of the board I don't know. But she did articulate these complex issues very well.

-parent in Sped & AL

Anonymous said...

We need to disabuse any and all school board members of the idea that ICS is a good thing. It is a flop. It is shameful that they ever supported it. And they need to hear it everywhere they go. A few sped-ptsa bought the kool-aid, until they realized it was never going to be funded. Most people knew that would never happen, and it hasn't. Notably, it is the product of drive-by sped directors who would never have a stake in the outcomes. And they all had a hand in it. Some people liked it in Kindergarten, because it may have been better than self-contained. But, after ring-around-the-rosie, you've actually got to start doing work. ICS students aren't getting any academics. Sure they get to attend their neighborhood school. But who cares if the kid is just sitting? And social skills? Well, "being with neighborhood kids" isn't really a high bar. That is all ICS provides. You get to "be there".

It isn't all about bad behavior. Just sitting and doing nothing is also "a behavior". Teachers don't really care so much about kids who do that. The lucky ones are the ones that are behavior "problems" - because the teachers will at least ask for help. No, teachers will demand help, if a student is bothering them. Maybe we should all teach our kids to be true behavior problems so that the district will actually serve them.

-kill it

Anonymous said...

Melissa, the issue with autism and Aspergers is this. Aspergers is listed in the DSM-IV as an "Autism Spectrum Disorder". It already IS autism. So are a few other disorders - autism, and PDD-NOS. In the new version of the DSM - there will ONLY be autism. Eg. 1 disorder called "autism". So, people who would have been diagnosed with Aspergers will either have nothing, or they will have autism. The idea is that there isn't a sufficient border between autism and aspergers to have 2 different disorders, especially as people age. Currently, people with Aspergers already have an autism spectrum diagnosis.

"Inclusion without the resources is not going to work." By what measure? What does it mean to work? It IS going to happen, and it is happening now. I get the feeling that somehow the sped kids are supposed to just go away because of the large classes. And people think maybe one day, when the money is good, we can bring it back... or something like that. That ain't gonna happen. If you don't like large classes without sped support, you'd better advocate for the sped support. Because the sped kids ARE going to be there.

-have kid with autism

SeattleSped said...

Kill it,

Yes, and when we asked for what a teacher does to ask for help here, we got a big fat ZERO. In my book, the folks downtown aren't earning their dough if they aren't providing that help.

Maureen said...

So what would a solution look like? From what I hear here, there is a sort of gold standard of inclusive education which begins with including kids with special needs in gen ed classrooms all day with adequate support. Sometimes that sort of inclusion does not serve the needs of the child and a small self contained classroom with other kids who have similar needs and sufficient staff who are specifically trained for those needs is optimal.

To me, making that work requires some sort of critical mass of kids in each category at any school to make optimal use of a given budget Obviously more money is better and one dedicated well trained staff member per student all day would be great--but not likely to happen (where would THAT money come from?)

What I see at our school (about 520 K-8) is a small special ed staff which divides its time over 18 classrooms (9 if all of the kids who need them are in the same home rooms.) We rearranged the entire building schedule this year to allow more predictable access for the kids and specialists but, even so, some classes will go five hours a day with only the classroom teacher for the 25-30 kids.

It seems to me that a better system would be to group the kids with needs to the extent that a classroom with a certain number of special needs kids could have a full time sped teacher in addition to the basic classroom teacher (and possibly a reduced class size?). But what ratio makes sense, and to what extent would this limit some kids ability to attend school close to home? Can someone throw out some fact-based numbers?

Anonymous said...

Maureen, the thing that worked were inclusion programs. And there still are some. A building has adequate staff to handle a certain number of kids. Those kids are placed as general education students. The service is pull out, or push in, as determined on their IEPs. Like everyone else, some have lots of needs, some have fewer needs. Typically there was an inclusion manager (sped teacher) and 2 aides. That works great, but the students are usually placed there and not just kids from the neighborhood. Every region has a few of these programs, so students really don't have to go far. There is also a resource room, staffed at 22 kids. Same deal there. Sometimes pullout in small groups, sometimes push in, sometimes 1-1.

I don't know of any school where they have a full-time co-teaching model. But yes, that would be great. And prohibitively costly. Inclusion program teachers sometimes do that, but it isn't a "this is how we do it" type of thing.

been there done that

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, et al:
CAICEE is the Community Advisory Committee for Investing in Educational Excellence.

I went looking for their report (circa 2005-2006), but couldn't find it anywhere. With lots of SPS stuff seems like browser is "unable to find webpage..."
But I did find this interesting press release from, you guessed it, the Gates Foundation, where they include a link to the report....that browser can't find...:
"SEATTLE -- Seattle Public Schools received an $850,000 commitment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support strategic planning, performance management and the implementation of recommendations from the Superintendent’s Community Advisory Committee for Investing in Educational Excellence (CACIEE). This grant will support the district as it focuses on addressing planning needs, financial issues and academic improvement....

I wonder how that million dollar investment to act on a report that doesn't exist, a mere five years later, is working out for the Gates Foundation?

WV thinks its some kinda pitswar

seattle citizen said...

Not incidentally, one of the first actions of Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson was to close John Marshall Alternative, partly based on CACIEE recommendations. Marshall Alternative, by 2007, housed quite a few Special Ed students, including Level 4 Behavior Mod. Also teen mothers, expelled kids, etc etc...and "regular" alternative students.

The idea then was that students, including Marshall's population, would be given some sort of "RtI," Response to Intervention - case management, students kept in traditional schools where possible...

Granted, Marshall had fallen on hard times (and wasn't getting a lot of support) but the idea of "inclusion" talked about here goes back at least to 2007, and the whole case-management piece has yet to be manifested. With more cuts to FTE, I wouldn't hold your breath on either that OR teachers being MORE inclusive as their class sizes go up and buildings lose support staff of all kinds.

Where did CAICEE's report go, have aspects of it been implemented, and were those actions successful?

Or was it just another one of those magic bullets that bubble to the top every couple of years, only to be replaced with something else? And people wonder why educators get a bit blase': Why change when in three years you'll have to swing the other way, and with even fewer resources?

Were is the CAICEE report?!?

seattle citizen said...

Here is the Community Advisory Committee for Investing in Educational Excellence: Final Report, February 10, 2006

WV is having apograp for dinner, and I'm going to have some to, methinks. Cheerio, my dearios!

Maureen said...

been there says: A building has adequate staff to handle a certain number of kids....Typically there was an inclusion manager (sped teacher) and 2 aides.....There is also a resource room, staffed at 22 kids.

For what size school? And what grade range? How many kids served at what levels (2-4 and other programs)? To me this sounds like two certified teachers (one manager and one resource room) and two aides. At 13% of the school, they would cover anywhere from 25-200 kids in three to nine different grades depending on levels of service required.

Our school has something like: 6.0 certified teachers (including 2.5 resource room) and 5.0 aides for about 30 Level 4 and 25 Level 2 kids. That sounds like a lot by your standards, but it's no where near enough to have an extra trained staff member for every kid who needs services for 6 hours a day in 18+ different classrooms. (And then there is ELL with about 1.0 certified and 1.5 aides for about 30 identified and some more who tested out but still need help.) (I may be overcounting some staff who are actually 0.8 and look like 1.0 to me.)

MathTeacher42 said...

From skimming this diary, it seems to me that once again the fundamental problem is that no one knows what ideas cost to implement, so the ideas aren't paid for.

While I find it easy to believe that bad things happen when everyone is battling each other over crumbs, and I'm positive that there are plenty of people out there who would deliberately set things up in such a manner, it seems to me that in this enormous enterprise attempting to educate over 50 million kids in the U.S. is just out of control.

We need to figure out what our ideas cost in time to implement, so that we can prioritize the ideas and pay for ideas.

As a high school teacher for 6 years, I wish that policy for high school kids was set by high school people - 15, 16 and 17 year olds are immature, but they are a lot different than immature 5, 6 and 7 year olds.

R.

seattle citizen said...

"Our school has something like: 6.0 certified teachers (including 2.5 resource room) and 5.0 aides for about 30 Level 4 and 25 Level 2 kids."
At the high school level (and perhaps middle school) the numbers cited by Maureen above might be broken out thusly:
2.5 resource room (or some degree of non-inclusive service, perhaps 10 special ed students (it used to be that there was a limit of how many special ed students could be served per special ed cert, but I'm not sure if this still pertains) with two 1.0 certs at any given period in pull out rooms or somewhere else, and the other 3.5 Special ed FTE certs might be dual certs, special ed and "regular," and these teachers would have the inclusion classrooms, which would be a mix of special ed and "regular" students, probably at a higher ratio than non-inclusion classrooms (which still might have Special Ed students in them, but the teachers aren't Special Ed certified.)

My feeling is that IAs, Instructional Assistants, have been taking a hit; there are fewer of both special ed and ELL IAs.

Anonymous said...

The standards aren't mine. They are in the teacher's contract. They happen to have worked pretty well. You can look it up.

The size of the school doesn't matter, it's the number of special ed kids assigned to the building and the amount of staff that matters. If your school has 30 level 4's, then that's 4 teachers for them. 25 level 2's, that's 1 teacher. So, that's 5 teachers you would expect from the numbers you mention. If you've got 6, then you are overstaffed and they will notice sooner or later.

Under ICS though, the kids who really are level 4 (or would have been in a level 4 program) are designated level 2. That's the rub. If you've got 5 level 2 kids, that are really level 4, then you should have another teacher. If not, then you're fine.

A ratio of 8 students to 1 teacher, is deluxe for level 4 students. If your staff is having trouble with that, then they need training. Especially if you've got all those programs. They need better organization and collaboration. No other school is going to be more than something like you describe. It's pretty out of whack on the staffing. Lots of schools are way worse. And I'd expect that staffing number to be going down in your school too if you're that far off the norm.

-been there done that

Anonymous said...

"Been there" is definietely exaggerating.

The "old" inclusion programs were controlled by the union and the District. Nobody could "qualify" if they did not meet pre-determined support ratios. This is not legal -- the IEP is supposed to determine placement. But the District manages that big time: by the time you go to your child's IEP meeting, the school staff have already been coached by Central Office about "the offer." It is all about where there is "room."

The ICS notion that services come to the student in the school he would have gone to if not disabled should not be abandoned. It is the point of departure. "Been there" would like this blog's readers to believe that there is NOTHING to improve on in the old inclusion models. Don't be misled: hundreds of families have children who have been denied access to these programs because of the rigid staffing models and because of the rigid definition of who could be in or out.

Nick at Night

Maureen said...

been there I could be wrong about the exact numbers, but our ratio may be out of whack because of the nature of the Level 4 programs (3 different programs in the building.)

mom of 4 in sps said...

seattle citizen! you found it!

and sped parent - no one could write the recommendation without studying, regardless of whether you think she listened to what you wanted.

Re your assertion that she recommended cutting services at 18 and that she didn't know about federal law being 21" - the CACIEE report only says that the law requires services to 21, but no evaluation is being made to see if services are still needed - unless you're saying she didn't know that until you told her.

Special ed comment says nothing whatsoever about transportation.

She also debunked the canard that "special ed drains dollars from general ed students"

chances are pretty good you won't read this, and I'm doubting you read the report either, based on your comments.

Anonymous said...

A note from the SPED candidates forum I went to: I was surprised that KAte had not done her homework more. In her opening comments she said she didn't have a breadth of knowledge about SPED but I was willing to give her props for courage and being willing to learn. HOWEVER, one of the questions asked was this (more or less): Given that you said in opening comments that you don't know much about special education in our district, how will you educate yourself?

I listened very carefully to her answer. This is how she responded: She used most of her 3 minutes to talk about an aquaintance with traumatic brain injury, which she described. She did NOT respond to the question. It really scared me. Here's a person with really strong opinions who generally thinks she's right on most things, who is not demonstrating to me that she will go to stakeholders and learn from them AND PERHAPS CHANGE HER MIND BASED ON AQUIRING NEW INFO. Sherry may be an incumbent, but folks she helped found SPED PTA and has been receptive when the community comes calling. With Kate, I worry we'll get what SHE thinks is right, research be damned, and not what an informed investigation with stakeholders may provide.

I spoke with her one-on-one at a different event and asked her, how will you make sure what you want is ok with the community? SHe told me that her vision of leadership is that sometimes you make the hard call and go against what people want. I get that, but I thinks she sees herself not only as lone cowboy, but as generally more superior and more right than others. I'm looking for someone open to learning more and being willing to change their mind if they are getting the message that say, XYZ is going to impact the families at ABC school in a way Board members did not expect. If Kate winds, I hope she'll take a hard look at always having to be right.

Concerned about Don Quixotes

mom of 4 in sps said...

Concerned about Don Quixotes - you are right on

Anonymous said...

Concerned about Don Quixotes

I agree, you are right on. Kate's comment during that meeting regarding LRE (Least restrictive environment) "be careful what you wish for" was very careless, offensive, and scary.

Also concerned

Anonymous said...

Nick at Night,

The situation with "qualification" is actually much worse with ICS. Fewer kids than ever really "qualify". Of course they are happy to let you sit. If you are happy with ICS, then no problem. The district will let you have it. And, I'm sure it does work for a few people.

But, here are the actual facts. Look at the contract. Inclusion programs are considered "self-contained" under the contract. They are so-called special education 4B programs. They happen to be "self-contained" programs that do inclusion. Yes, they are staffed with a rigid ratios. So does ICS. So does general ed. Rigid is what contracts are. Contracts set the rules. Within the rules there is variability, just like all special ed and all general ed. Gen-ed teachers get 28. Some hard, some easy. Same with special ed teachers.

It is absolutely true that inclusion programs were denied to many. But, that is really the central office admission criteria that denied that access. They simply refused to assign students to them, and spouted off some admissions criteria. They made up rules. (That happens to be an illegal thing to do.) Parents always got around that with the IEP process and escalation. Yes it was painful. Yes it was unfair. But at least there were the programs.

But the ICS model is the same-old, same-old... except that there's WAY less staff. Like, about 1/3 as much. It also has admissions criteria. Like, you can't have more than 600 minutes on your IEP and be in ICS. And that admissions criteria is more limiting. Basically, they are saying "this is all we will do, regardless of your needs". It also has staffing set in stone.

-been there, done that

Anonymous said...

PS. Nick.

I would never say that there is nothing to improve upon the old inclusion programs. There's plenty to improve. But now, we're in a total regression, with no end in sight. Why would you want to throw something away, if it worked for lots of people? Why wouldn't you want to improve on the best thing you've got, to make it work for more people, rather than start from 0? Because really, that's what they've got now. Nothing. And, and expensive nothing. It takes a long time to improve something, so regression to 0 is really painful.

--been there

Jan said...

Been there said: Why would you want to throw something away, if it worked for lots of people?

Aarggh. This has, for this District, been so often the case -- and it seemed (to me at least) to increase exponentially when MGJ came. We had SO many problems when Manhas left and the board turned over. So much dysfunction; so much wasted time and money. There was SO MUCH to do (and that was BEFORE the Great Recession and its effect on school funding). And what did we get -- regression. Instead of coming in and assessing the Districts problems, building on what worked, changing what didn't -- we hired someone who had no interest in listening or learning about this District's strengths and weaknesses. She had "Ed Reform In A Can" in her backpack -- and by gum, that is what we were going to get. So, despite rising enrollments, we got school closures and consolidations. Despite a joint District/teacher effort to reform teacher retention and incentive policies, we got the standard Ed Reform teacher reform (find a high stakes test or two, and tie retention and benefits to it -- end of discussion). Instead of building on innovative programs in high schools (English electives at Roosevelt, Marine Science at GHS, the Biotech academies at Ballard), we got course standardization which destroyed Roosevelt's english courses, screwed up the high school history path by replacing AP Euro with vastly inferior AP Geography, and damn near wrecked science (I think we only survived it because it was decimating BOTH GHS AND Ballard -- and also did not work well for any other school -- so they FINALLY had to listen).

And SPED too -- there was so much to do, and rather than do ANY of it, the SPED community is having to spend its time trying to fight the demolition of what little there was that worked. In the future, we will have to rebuild and replace everything that was lost and THEN, we will maybe be able to make some progress. It is beyond disheartening.

none1111 said...

Jan said ...and damn near wrecked science (I think we only survived it because it was decimating BOTH GHS AND Ballard -- and also did not work well for any other school -- so they FINALLY had to listen)

Vigorous opposition by multiple constituents didn't necessarily stop other ill-advised measures (although there's probably some truth to what you're saying). Beyond this, if I understood correctly (from a well-placed staff member) there was no budget to follow through with what they were trying to accomplish.

Sigh. Money drives so much of our district polices. In this case it was probably a good thing, but overall it's just sad.

anonymous said...

Susan Enfield is a soldier for the failed ed reform agenda that robs high achievers down to lowest alike with the bubble test prep script.

For goodness sakes, many classrooms don't even have books and teachers and parent volunteers have to break copyright to xerox pages by chapter which cost about 4x what actual books would cost. Meanwhile we're spending millions on bubble test prep and testing.

We are adding 1000 students a year. We can't staff with 3 year formulas.

She has surrounded herself with mediocre to inadequate talent in the way of regional executive directors, refuses to do a fact check of resumes of those folks she has hired and only holds principals "accountable" to bubble test bumping.

She fails to correct the curriculum inadequacies in any perceivable way and will never close the achievement gap, but will actually make it worse, because she buys the drill 'em for bubble test agenda.

We don't need bubble test bumpers.

We have money for real teaching, real learning and real conversations with families about how to supplement and navigate public education.

APP and Spectrum are not even the beginning of challenging students.

We must stop punishing families who prepare their students for school and who cultivate them each and every day of each and every year.

Remedial is one type of classroom. We don't need to dumb down every classroom with remedial. We can't shove all of our "average students" into that milieu.

Susan Enfield does not have a vision for the best schools in the nation - which is what Seattle should be shooting for - but instead she has another tired story about the achievement gap. Yuk.

I'm tired of students being held back by such programs that only deal with one segment of the student population. All students need attention and challenges. All student deserve inspiration. Many are bored out of their minds in these classrooms.

I would like a superintendent who is willing to recognize the individual needs of students and who understand the difference between standards and standardization."

DM