Who is really teaching your special education child?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Aug 20, 2011.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I don't want to give actual details about location because who knows who reads this, but I have learned something interesting about at least one school in the Midwest (and it is in a very rich school district).

    There is a Special Education class for kids ages 5-8. The dynamics of the class are everything from autism to "we aren't sure." The teacher has a Masters Degree and makes over $100,000 a year and is a good teacher, but she delegates almost all of her "teaching" to her aides, most who don't even have college degrees. When she does teach, she keeps the kids who are the least behaviorally challenged and have the least trouble learning.

    The teacher is always pushing "specials." Specials mean that the disabled child goes into regular classes such as science, math, art etc. She has them go more than they have to and often to classes they can't comprehend and disrupt and tries to have her children for as minimal a time as she can. When they are all at Specials, she gets a break and the aides are trying to teach the kids things that they are unable to grasp. I don't know how much of this is mandatory (it sounds rather silly...sending non-verbal, low IQ kids to do science where they often make loud noise and cry and disrupt the other kids. It gave me a new perspective on "inclusion." The aides often just put down answers for the kids or tell them what to write, if they can write, because the kids have no clue.

    The parents don't know anything. The teacher doesn't allow the aids to talk to them. When the parents are coming in, always b appointment (a parent can not just walk in and demand to see what is going on), she cleans up the classroom nicely and gives them warm reports so that she looks good (the aide's view of things). They school district gets money for each disabled child, so they don't want to lose any or admit that the child would be better off in a higher needs classroom.

    Do I believe this all? Pretty much. Sonic used to spend half his day in Special Education and, looking back, he talked more about his aide than the teacher. I think she did most of the work, although Sonic was THAT kid that the teacher herself liked and enjoyed working with so I'm guessing he got more teacher time than kids who were less pleasant, less able to work. So...

    What do you think of this? Anyone else work as an aide in the classroom? Is it accurate? Do you feel inclusion is the answer for all kids? Would you care if your Special Education child were being taught more by the aide than the teacher? Do you believe schools cover up what they do to please the parents?

    The school district quietly goes along with the teacher as if nothing is wrong. Maybe nothing is.

    Things that make you go hmmmmmmm...
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    This was at an older age because Travis didn't have an IEP when he was that young. Travis was highly dependent on his aide. He never saw the Special Education teacher that was supposed to be helping him. If he went to the room where he was supposed to get help from her, he was told she was unavailable. This was every single day all day long. I met the woman once. Once. IEP meeting. I tried calling her, but she was always unavailable and never called back. I called the school, but she was always out. And from speaking with other parents and aides, it certainly was NOT helping students.

    Alex, well Alex functions at early kindergarden level in some areas, late kindergarden maybe early first grade in others. He's in the 4th grade. Our SD no longer has ANY Special Education classes. NONE. He has no choice but to be mainstreamed into a normal classroom. Last year he had an awesome teacher who in my opinion should receive the outstanding teacher of the year award, if there is such a thing. And it wasn't much of a problem. This year, we've yet to see how his teacher does. Instead of Special Education classes they have IEP classrooms where the classroom is part IEP students and those without IEPs, regardless of the reasons for the IEP. This, in my opinion, is about as ridiculous as it gets. I find myself not only concerned for Alex, but the other students in those IEP classrooms receiving proper attention as well. We'll have to see how this year plays out for him.
  3. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    No, mainstreaming is not for everyone.

    As to the second question, if she is truly learning and performing to the best of her abilities and being challenged, etc., it wouldn't bother me, but I would expect honesty as to who is doing most of the work. What I recall from being in school is that the aides we had were in training to be teachers, so while they were there they did most of the teaching to get their training in. I didn't have SpEd classes, so I am only speaking of my experience in more typical public school settings when I grew up.
  4. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    I don't know about this specific teacher and situation but I as somebody who taught in a regular classroom I can comment on a couple of things.

    First of all, a lot of Special Education kids do have what amounts to their "own" aide. With that many kids who have severe disabilities, one teacher could not possibly teach them all. The idea is for the teacher to plan the instruction and oversee the aides and check to make sure they are doing what they need to do for each kid. Whether that actually works varies wildly from school to school but the idea is probably sound. Because the teacher is the one ultimately responsible, she is the one who meets with parents, etc. although many schools do include that kids aide in conferences, etc.

    As far as inclusion, or mainstreaming, I am not a big fan in many cases but usually teachers don't have a lot of leeway. The powers that be in the halls of government (most of whom haven't seen a kid or been in a classroom for half a century) have decided, in their great wisdom, that this is the way to go. We are seeing more, not less, of this. I am all for mainstreaming kids into anything they can profit from and into classes that give them some real social interaction but, too often, they are put into classes that they have no interest in, no background for, and no chance of ever understanding. We have them sitting in algebra classes when they could more profitably benefit from leaning how to use a calculator to balance a check book. They go to physics class when they should be learning how to use a microwave. We send them to English literature when they should be learning to read instructions and fill out employment forms. I don't want to go back to the old days like when I was a kid and they stayed home or to later times when they stuck them all together in a room in the back of the school and forgot about them, but this isn't the answer either.

    When I taught I always felt like I was being asked to pound square pegs into round holes and nowhere is that more true than in a lot of Special Education classes.
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    In your situation? I would have some really strenuous objections. It should not be difficult to get in touch with ANY of your child's teachers. Cell phones mean that most schools expect to speak to a parent within 15-30 minutes and often by the time 15 min has passed they have moved on to the emergency contact. This is not just our district - it is common in the districts all over the country that I have friends in. If parents are supposed to be that reachable, school staff should at least be reachable within a day. If the aide was good with my kid and my kid was learning things he needed to learn, I would have few problems with an aide being the one who taught him. But if it was just babysitting, well, I would be FURIOUS.

    I would object to a teacher being paid that much and not doing things iwth any of the kids. I do think many schools cover things up so that parents do not demand more/better/different from them. This doesn't just come from experience as a student and parent. I saw a LOT of this in the schools my father taught in. Including one principal who bought a copier worth over $50,000 and kept it locked in his office - the teachers were not allowed to even SEE it and were each given 1 ream of paper to last the entire year for ALL of their classes. Not 1 ream per period, but 1 ream per teacher per year. The copier the teachers had to use did not even turn on. My dad had one of the old mimeograph machines and he and his students turned that hand crank to make the purple inked copies that many ofyou may remember from when you were in school.

    I also know that at the middle school in my town about 20% of the teachers there chose to homeschool their kids for the middle school years. Largely because the way things were handled. No supervision in the hallways between classes, lunch supervision was the principal sitting on the stage in the cafetorium with a microphone as he flirted iwth a teacher or other employee and ignored the students as they threw things, etc.... The substitute teachers in our district will not even send their kids to the elementary school that is right next to the middle school because similar things go on there, even though it is in the ritzy part of town and supposedly has the "best quality" students because it has more students from well off families than other elem schools in the district do.
  6. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    I worked as a classroom aide(although not a SpEd classroom) and I have to say, there were many times where I knew more than the teacher about HOW the students learned info and what kinds of info they were capable of "retaining". If they had tried teaching some of those students, it would have amounted to nothing. I have sat in a SpEd classroom for 2 days with difficult child (LONG story) and I wish he'd had an aide to teach him. The SpEd teacher had no personality, talked down to all the kids in this sing-songy voice, and presented all material by reading verbatim from worksheets and books in that same voice and expected the kids to stay awake and attentive enough to comprehend any of it.

    I also agree that mainstreaming is not for everyone. With support from aides either in the classroom or on a one-on-one basis, more kids are able to mainstream more. If their barriers can be overcome this way, good fot them. If not, then that shouldn't be an option.

    I'm curious. I wonder how she got all these parents and regular ed teachers to go along with this in an IEP. If the mainstream teachers went along with this, they should also be held accountable.
  7. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Sadly I know quite a bit on this subject. I won't use any historical stories but as of today the truth is that there is a huge variance from area to area...and school to school.

    Where we live new teachers who want to join the ranks are very often relegated to SE classes. It's a bit like an initiation. If they survive a year then they are considered for regular classrooms. Most (not all) local schools use the inexperienced teachers as babysitters.

    Last night in a telephone conversation I heard a "this week" story about my neice and Godchild. She has taught in Miami for years and wanted to relocate to SC. She is highly educated and dedicated in the SE field. In Miami she had fifteen to twenty students and no aide. This week she started her new job. She is making $4000 more in SC. This is her new schedule. First period she has three students. Second thru fourth period she sits with her students in mainstream classes to monitor them but also to learn exactly what they are being taught..so she can reenforce the lessons. She does not have to "do lunch" with them. She has one period that is a planning period. Then has the students until the end of the day. Guess what? She had a full time aide!

    How's that for a huge difference in student opportunities. I'm thrilled for her and very happy for those kids and their parents. DDD
  8. keista

    keista New Member

    Mainstreaming is certainly NOT for every child.

    Do schools cover up what they do to please parents? Oh H E double hockeysticks yeah!
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    keista I absolutely agree that mainstreaming isn't for every student. on the other hand all of our experiences with mainstreaming have meant that the difficult child is sent to a regular classroom to join regular students. I think it is awesome that my Neice takes her kids and sits with them for the entire mainstream experience and then reviews the material in the SE class.
    For some kids it might not work but for kids like difficult child it would have given him the sense of security he needed and he would have been able to discuss and question the content with someone he knew was on his side. DDD
  10. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    If any of you know me...keep this confidential, please. I work as an aide with serverely autistic students K-3 (non-verbal) The aides do most of the teaching, and it is one on one. The teacher checks her facebook, e-mail, and has no clue.....at least the one I worked with doesn't. Yet, I have never seen an IEP, never talked to a parent, and sometimes feel like I'm pulling teeth getting her to answer questions.I am ONLY there for the kids, and do more fot them than the teacher does (in my opinion) because everything I do is done with understanding and love. For the past 6 years, the only I received was at workshops that I took during the summer...sans teacher! She refuses to change diapers ...forget it. This is just me, and this year I've requested to be moved to another class (granted, yea!) But...if you want to know the real deal, talk to aides.....they love their jobs, the kids, and have a lot to say. You wouldn't do this job unless you LOVED it!!
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    DDD...I think SC actually has a pretty good school system contrary to what people may believe because their education lottery is actually being used for what they claim its for...education. We have seen them build more schools and heard about the scores increase dramatically since the lottery went into place. I know folks might think...wait, Janet is from NC how would she know this but I am only 17 miles from SC and I get most of my local news from there plus Tony has done construction work on at least 5 schools down there in the last 6 or 7 years.

    On the other hand, NC got the lottery in the past 3 years I believe and if its going for education you could fool us. We still dont have the program where if you get a B average you can get help getting into college like SC. We still arent building schools. Our schools are falling apart and teacher salaries are in the toilet. The cost of tuition is increasing. But boy our Governor can spend like crazy on renovations on the mansion!
  12. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Since I work, I don't get to go to the schools as often as I'd like. But I do know...

    The "tutoring" class J had last year? He did his homework. There were at least 40 kids in there. No WAY the teacher could help them all.

    He had "assistance" in his IEP, for reading. But not in Social Studies, English, or Math. Now... We threw a polite fit about this. It got written in. Did it get done? HAHAHAHA right.

    I know - math? ...Story problems & instructions...
  13. joneshockey

    joneshockey Guest

    I can agree with those of you who have said mainstreaming IS NOT for every child... I am a 1st grade teacher and work for a highly impoverished community. I have had Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) students "mainstreamed" into my classroom with little to no assistance from aides or the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) teacher. It can be EXTREMELY tough to handle a child whom is climbing ontop of tables, throwing things and spitting while trying to teach a class of 26 other students. I am currently in one of these situations where the child is supposed to recieve 2-3 hours of support within my classroom each day, where I believe I have had about 2 hours of support in the past 2 WEEKS total! HELLO... talk about being in violation of the child's IEP! When I have confronted the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) teacher about it she blows me off using the excuse that she is short 1 childcare worker... HELLO, when she has a ratio of 3:1 right now with 2 adults in the room and I am sitting at 27:1 - I don't have any sympathy :(
  14. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Joneshockey! You have my utmost respect! I understand how challenging this is, bless you.
  15. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I'm not surprised...I've seen it. And been told, on the rare occasions I sub in a Special Education class, that I "don't need to do anything, the aides will take care of it."
  16. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I teach 4th and 5th grade in a classroom with fully included Special Education children. In our room the Special Education teacher and I plan and the SEA helps us to carry out the plans. For reading groups we alternate who teaches whom. There are times when the Special Education teacher will do more groups with the Special Education kiddos (it's her area of expertise).

    In our district almost every student is fully included. Do I think that is what is best all of the time? No, for most children with disabilities being in the regular ed classroom is a very good thing. However, there are some students that need more supports than what can be provided in a fully included room.
  17. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I sound more than a bit jaded on some subjects but isn't there a specific $$ amount on each special students head that comes into the District...or is it to the specific school? I know for sure that is true with gifted students as easy child/difficult child had a full time gifted class in 7th grade with a dynamic accredited teacher. In the 8th grade they had one period of gifted education and when he got to 9th grade it was downgraded to "all gifted students will have a weekly lunchtime meeting so any problems can be addressed". The "accomodation" in high school was that one special class was available to gifted students during the year of their choice...if they chose to attend.That is not why easy child/difficult child got off track (I'm not blaming the school system) but I know the school got extra bucks and wrote dumb IEP's to keep it coming.

    Maybe...just maybe...many areas see the $$'s and therefore write the IEP's but don't really accomodate the children in need. What JH said from her teaching experiences is often true around here too. Full classrooms of standard students and one major difficult child is just plain wrong. In our area they often just send "Officer Friendly" to take the difficult child to the office for "a good talking to". WTH!

    And since I'm in vent mode on this subject, Florida started the Lottery years ago for education. Then..you guessed it, the State cut back the educational budget to offset the gain. Geez Louise. Florida is not 48th in education. What a surprise! End of vent. DDD
  18. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I know California is hovering near the bottom somewhere...I see it every day.
  19. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I do believe it's true that districts often look at the money and takes that into consideration when developing ieps. It isn't how it should be done at all, the teachers don't like it. Less and less money is going into education and that hurts everyone. It hurts the Special Education, kids, gifted kids, and the other kids as well. Unfortunately, many outside of education do not realize, or more likely don't care, that education needs more money. It really is sad.
  20. joneshockey

    joneshockey Guest

    I really don't mind them being in there, however I DO NOT feel qualified to meet there needs --- I have never been professionally trained on how to deal with students like this nor am I certified in this area. I do not like being put into this type of situation where other students could be hurt.