So I got out of the urban school district I was stuck in for five years. (Should be mandatory for all teachers to have to experience by the way.) My last year there was working with special education students whose learning disabilities made it difficult for them to be in general education class rooms. There were three classes of about ten students, grades 6 - 8.
I happened to apply over the summer to a more rural county that, fortunately for me, was starting such a program for the first time. Except where my old county had about thirty of these students for every middle school, this has only one student (so far) for a county with only four middle schools. He, and any future students, will receive private transportation to this school from all parts of the county.
This is where tax dollars come in.
They hired me, a para-professional, and a social worker for this program. Three adults are currently in the room with one student. That is at least $100,000 a year in salary plus countless more in health and other benefits for the three of us. We are still several months away from getting a possible second student.
The reasoning behind all of this is simple. My last county was constantly settling special education law suits by paying to have students sent to $50,000 a year private schools. This county has decided to spend hard money on special education to avoid lawsuits, so they don't set that precedent that any parent with a lawyer can get their child into a private school.
Now, I am working harder than I have ever worked. I have to plan lessons for all four content areas, while still being a case manager for other special education students in the building. But my para-professional just sits on the computer for half of the day playing games. I don't blame her, I have absolutely nothing for her to do. When (and if) I receive more students she will definitely be doing much more. This is especially true because I could potentially be teaching all four subjects for three different grade levels. I feel like an elementary school teacher from the 1800s.
Don't get me wrong though, the days fly by, and I am actually enjoying it. Teaching the same social studies lesson four times a day got a bit boring, so this is a nice change. Teaching science one on one with a student opens the door to a lot of possibilities.
But for now, Mr. and Ms. Taxpayer, you are funding this one student at $100,000+ per year. Did I mention the private bus he gets? Full size to, not even a short bus. This happens to be the school he would have gone to anyways, so there is actually another bus that comes through his neighborhood going to the same place. Twenty minute drive, each way.
By the way, this student with an IQ in the 80s is expected to be on a college track. The high school has a small technical skills program, but nothing we can even consider until he is out of middle school.
Let me get back to work. It is back to school night, and there is a 10% chance his mom might come.
Posts: 3122 | Registered: Mar 2005
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Sounds eerily familiar...I've seen similar things in other places, too. We had several parents win law suits against my former district, forcing the school to pay for private tuition, even for medical bills for psychiatric care because the parents claimed their kids wouldn't have needed to be hospitalized for mental illness if the special ed department had done a better job with behavior management. How a case manager with 25 kids spread over four grades is going to give a kid the one-on-one behavior management help they need when the kid carries four different diagnoses and is on a laundry list of drugs...well, I don't know. I kinda wish some of these advocacy groups who get such a kick out of suing schools would just come and job shadow a special education teacher in an urban high school for a while and see what they have to deal with.
I applaud the goal of the least restrictive environment for many students, but there are some that absolutely should not be mainstreamed into the general education classroom. I have taught several students that required one-on-one aides. That's a full time salary for one person, including benefits, to just help one student. And those aides are not also the case manager - the case workers are in addition to the aides. So a portion of the case manager's salary is also used for that student. Even with the help, the kids often struggled greatly in the classroom and were such a disruption and problem, it affected the other kids in the class. If those kids could instead be taught in a small, self-contained class rather than the general education class it would be better for all involved.
When you have kids in your classrooms that are paranoid schizophrenic and suicide risks, and the parents send them back to class only days after a suicide attempt (stitches still in), with the kid drugged senseless so he sleeps constantly, and you are expected to pass them just because they have an IEP and it's too much paperwork to fail them....you begin to get disillusioned with the whole thing.
Posts: 14422 | Registered: Aug 2001
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