Recently, I have been amazed by the schools I’ve been in lately. Most of them are not at all proactive. The status quo is to wait for things to deteriorate and then try to patch things up and figure things out. Rather than think proactively and put things into place ahead of time (even with documentation clearly showing that what the student needs is more). It just doesn’t make sense.
Now, before you get upset, I understand that the law supports what’s ‘appropriate’ and not what’s ‘best’ for students to make effective progress, but it seems that these kids aren’t even getting what’s ‘appropriate’. They give the bare minimum and then wait to see if the student falls apart.
What Happens to the Children?
This is resulting in more and more of my students requiring crisis intervention, hospitalization, physical restraint, frequent discipline actions, and all while making little to no progress. This also requires parents to pick up the slack resulting from the limited services in schools. Parents are running from therapies, to evaluations, to appointments, and doing hours of homework/schoolwork, all in an effort to help the student, when the problems are in the school setting. It’s sometimes easier for the parents to provide things for their child rather than fight with the school district. And I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be a coordinated effort between the school and the parents, but it shouldn’t fall to the parents to take up the majority of the load. Any good parent is going to do whatever it takes to help their child, but this allows the school districts to provide less and less.
I’ve even heard school employees ask a parent, ‘Could you get speech and language through your insurance?’ or ‘Maybe, your insurance can provide OT because, we only need to address school based needs through a consult model?’ What?! Or the best one, ‘Maybe you should talk to the doctor about medicating the student’, which is totally unacceptable.
I had a special ed director say to me, “I can’t authorize that service (ABA for a student with autism), but if you file a hearing, then we can provide it.” If the documentation supports that the student needs the service, why must a parent go to court in order to get it for their child? When it’s an entitlement under the law that the school provide what’s needed?
Unequal System At Work in Special Education
There is an unequal system at play, where parents with means, who are able to hire advocates and attorneys, get the services their child needs and the parents, who don’t understand, or aren’t able to obtain the help of advocates and attorneys, just get pushed off and off until their child leaves school.
I am not blaming teachers. These teachers are providing as much as they can, given the limited resources that they have. I had one teacher providing almost a 1:1 service to a student, and when we ask the school district to provide more support in the classroom, the answer is that it isn’t necessary, because the student is making progress. Given that the student is making progress due to the individual support, this isn’t independent progress.
These issues don’t seem to be getting better, in fact, I think they are getting worse.
Look for my next post addressing the unequal system…
Please comment below if you are experiencing the same or similar things in your district.