am a special education teacher. In many of your articles, you do not
support special ed teachers. In fact, you instruct parents on how
to be against special ed teachers and school administrators."
"It's hard to understand why anyone would go into this field,
when teaching kids gets in the way of paperwork. It's easy to understand
why sped teachers leave the profession."
for writing - your comments give me an opportunity to clarify
We are advocates for children. Our goal is to provide strategies
that parents and teachers can use to get better special education
services for children.
have many groups and organizations that represent their interests.
If these organizations are not representing your interests, you need
to let them know - and hold their feet to the fire.
There is power in numbers. To improve the working conditions in your
school or school district, think about how you can use the principles in One
Person is a Fruitcake, 50 People Are a Powerful Organization.
We do not "instruct parents on how to be against teachers and
school administrators." Because we are advocates for children,
we provide parents and teachers with strategies to get better services
for children and deal
We provide a great deal of information
about training that teachers can use so they will be able to meet
the needs of children.
Do we encourage parents to be against teachers?
Read our advice in How
to Resolve Parent-School Problems - and Protect Relationships and why we tell parents they should "view your relationship with
the school as a marriage without the possibility of divorce."
Dismal Special Ed Outcomes
The outcomes for children with disabilities who receive special education
services are dismal.
Just over 50% of children with disabilities graduate from high school
with regular diplomas. At least 30 percent drop out of school - usually
in the last grade or two.
Children with emotional problems have the
worst outcomes. More than 50 percent drop out of school - they have
no diploma, no certificate, nothing to show for the years they attended
school. (See Graduation
and Dropout Rates for Students with Disabilities, 24th Annual
Report to Congress)
Did you know that less than 36% of 12th graders are proficient
of reading, math and science proficiency, grades 4-12)
No one knows how many children with disabilities are proficient
in reading or math. States and school districts were not required
to report this information until recently. When children are not taught
these basic skills, they can't fill out a job application, balance
a checkbook, or make change. How will they make it in the real world?
Inadequate Teacher Training
Most special educators are not trained to teach children with language
learning disabilities (like dyslexia) to read. Most special educators
are not trained in multisensory language therapy (MSLT) or applied
behavior analysis (ABA). (Teacher
Training Centers and Programs)
are well-trained, they are so overloaded with students that
they cannot meet the needs of their students. This was the dilemma
faced by the remedial reading teacher who had 60-70 students, could
not meet their needs, and wrote to ask for advice. (Why
Remedial Reading Teachers Can't Teach Children to Read (and What They
Can Do About It)
Your perception that "we do not support special education teachers" is inaccurate, so I want to set the record straight. Many of our friends
are special education teachers. Many members of our family are teachers.
It is impossible to advocate for children with disabilities and not
support teachers. "Support" is not blind faith.
When Pete and I do training programs, we meet and speak with teachers
from around the country. These teachers are deeply concerned about
their students. They want advice about how to handle obstacles within
their school systems, including:
that select educational programs that have no research to support
their use (and when programs are not effective, children
fail to learn)
training or "personnel development" that is a waste of time
(a few hours or a day of training means a teacher is an "expert" on a methodology)
* no coherent plan to upgrade teachers' knowledge and skills
teachers who enter the classroom without sufficient knowledge and skills, do not get sufficient
supervision by experienced teachers, are left to fend for themselves,
get overwhelmed and isolated, leave teaching within three years
* teachers who teach subjects about which they know nothing
* teachers who are burned out because administrators pile work on
them (like the remedial reading teacher) including unnecessary paperwork
* administrators who predetermine services and placements and alter
IEPs without the parent's knowledge or consent
who attempt to advocate for their students and who experience retaliation from administrators and other teachers
like you may be burned out. If you are, you need to think about working in a better school district - or whether you want
to continue to work as a special educator.
In addition to compassion for children with disabilities, special
educators need to be:
flexible, creative problem-solvers
* knowledgeable about research based instructional methods
* willing to upgrade their knowledge and skills continuously
* capable of dealing with administrators who may focus on their interests, not the interests of their staff or students
It isn't easy. As a teacher you have options.
It isn't easy for parents of children with disabilities. Parents don't
have the option of leaving the parenting job because they are not
adequately prepared or supported.
You have more power than you think. Read One
Person is a Fruitcake, 50 People Are a Powerful Organization -
it may trigger creative solutions to problems you face.
Resources - Visit
the Teacher page for more information
Orders Study of Teacher Ed Programs. The mandated study about
coursework requirements, how reading and math are taught, and how
programs are aligned with scientific evidence may lead to standards,
norms, and professionalization of teaching.
Board Certified Teachers More Effective. Study
by University of Washington and the Urban Institute finds that teachers
who earned national certification are more effective in raising student
achievement than other teachers.
to Teaching Certification from the American Board for Certification
of Teacher Excellence.
Boston Teacher Residency
(BTR) - a one-year urban teacher preparation program; co-teach with
master teachers, take courses, receive a 10,000 stipend.