I believe it’s been quite some time since I shared anything from the email lists I follow. The thing is, most of the people who write on these lists aren’t lucky enough to have had their child assigned a one-on-one aide, the way that we have. I feel a little like Rose (Kate Winslet) at the end of Titanic, hearing a lot of drowners around me, clinging to my driftwood. I’m not proud of that feeling.
While we’re on that driftwood it’s a little hard to know if we could be doing better by moving elsewhere. I listen, listen for guidance. Here’s an example of what I hear.
I am a parent of a two year old and a child with special needs in second grade at Malcolm X elementary, who has been receiving district services since preschool. I am also the MX PTA president and run our PTA Afterschool enrichment program.
I’m writing to ask for more special education resources at our school.
I want to first acknowledge the amazing job our caseworkers at Mx are doing given the limited time and resources they have to meet the needs of all of the students and teachers that they serve.
Our caseworkers put their hearts into this job staying long hours into the night meeting the needs of the students first, but every night they go home leaving piles of paperwork on their desk and work incomplete that they don’t have time to do while trying to strike a balance between supporting staff, direct student needs, doing evaluations, attending meetings, and other compliance based paperwork that they are required to do.
Yet they are disheartened because there are simply not enough hours in a week to complete the workloads that these two amazing women have of supporting 27 classrooms and almost 600 students.
And there is still more that needs to be done! The parents expect more the teachers expect more the community expects more and the students deserve more.
BUSD is a inclusion only district, but in order for that to be successful it needs to be supported appropriately.
Our general education teachers are not prepared appropriately to handle the varying needs of each individualized education plan’s accommodations without the specialty training of our caseworkers.. And training on how to help one student doesn’t mean you know how to help the next..
Two caseworkers per school was a good start and maybe that worked 5-8 years ago when our district was much smaller but now those same two people at a smaller school with 14 classrooms and 300 students are doing twice the load at MX supporting 27 classrooms and almost 600 students.
Item 12.1 on the 2/10/16 agenda today discusses the mid year behavioral health report and the mental health needs assessment completed in 2015.. What is often overlooked and forgotten is that “Welcoming Schools” isn’t just about social, cultural and economic diversity, or restorative justice.. but it’s also about ability awareness!!
We .. Are .. An.. Inclusion …Only …District — and yet everyday there are students, parents, and families that feel alienated and alone because ability awareness and inclusivity training.. Is not a priority. This effects school climate and behavior issues.
The MX PTA thinks it is important and funded Axis Dance Company to preform for our students, a dance company that promotes ability awareness, that even provides classroom curriculum that teaches acceptance of all differences.. but it is the caseworkers who support the general ed teachers to adapt and integrate the curriculum that make these programs work..
When the caseworkers don’t have the time to complete Evals, meet IEP service minutes, Manage IAs, and file the documents that prevent compliance based law suits what responsibilities get pushed aside..??
-Time to train gen ed faculty on how to integrate inclusion curriculums into the classroom,
-time to nourish and create welcoming community support for families of children with special needs who feel outside, different, alone,
-time to foster and develop inclusive classrooms environments where students accept all differences,
-time to develop partnerships within the school and throughout the community..
When inclusion doesn’t work it doesn’t just hurt families of children with special needs it hurts all families…
You don’t have a successful inclusion model because you have a special needs student in a general eduction classroom, you have that model when the student feels accepted and understood.. When that student can develop meaningful relationships with their peers..
It’s all this and more that the district is supposed to be doing and isn’t when you have 2 people supporting 27 classrooms and 600 students.
Agenda item 12.2 on budget priorities requests that you transition 12 IAs to permanent positions and add a district OT but I say that is not enough..
Middle schools of our size have 5 special education teachers (caseworkers) supporting their population. In middle school those 5 teachers only covers 3 school grades whereas our 2 caseworkers load spans 7 years of curriculum and developmental levels..
We say the staffing request is not enough and MX needs the same 5 caseworkers the middle schools have to meet our growing needs.. But more importantly the district needs to create an equitable staffing formula that addresses this issue as our populations continue to grow..
Agenda item 11.8 states that our special needs preschool program is at capacity and a new class is needed to meet the needs of incoming students… In 2 years that overflow of students will be in our elementary schools and we can not come begging for barely minimum standards and resources every year.. This needs to be addressed now, the board needs to create an equitable staffing formula for special needs across the district now before we are over run and before we loose the amazing dedicated personnel we have due to burnout.