Sometimes I wonder why I'm in this profession.
Today at our staff meeting one of our district people--one I've dealt with before, one who is so clueless he can't find his butt with both hands, one who's never been a teacher--came to be the "face of the district" as we received a mandated presentation about how to deal with certain special education issues. It was mandated because our district had been determined to be "out of compliance" with certain requirements, and part of the corrective action was that every teacher and administrator had to sit through this presentation.
I'm periodically told, often by district weenies, how I'm supposed to teach. Yet, when they want me to learn something, they do everything they tell me not to. I don't mind a lecture format, if it's done correctly. But this was the presentation: screen after screen filled with words, accompanied by narration in which the narrator often trailed off to nothingness as if she herself had grown bored reading the boring script that we were supposed to lap up with vigor.
And then there's the content.
It's not that I don't think special education services are necessary, but I get extremely frustrated when I'm told that essentially, special education students are the only students that matter, and screw everyone else.
A couple of the slides discussed "manifestations". For those of you readers not in the education world, let me share with you a tad of what we have to live with in the schools. In your day and mine, if you got in trouble at school you probably got in twice as much trouble when you got home. This isn't the case today; no, today parents will come in lawyered up or at least accompanied by a professional "advocate" (or community organizer) and will fight any effort to require their angel to conform to even the most nominal standards of conduct. Schools and districts don't fight this because it's "too expensive"; they give in because it's teachers and other students, not those who give in, who have to live with the repercussions.
This is especially so in special education, where students have Individual Education Plans (IEPs). If a student receives special education services, a host of different and exciting laws kick in--no doubt they were well-intentioned, but many of them are asinine. They just are. Including the one that talks about "manifestations".
See, if a "regular ed" students does something stupid, they can be subject to school disciplinary procedures that could involve home suspension. If a special education student does something stupid, though, something that would lead any other student to suspension, there are different rules. If a special education student has over 10 days of suspension in a school year (which should be an indicator of something right there), a meeting with a large number of people must be held for each additional suspension to determine if the misbehavior is a "manifestation" of the student's disability. If it's a manifestation, they cannot be suspended.
Keep in mind, I'm not suggesting that every time a kid screws up that he or she should be suspended. I do think that if a kid is involved in a fight, or with drug issues, or blows up in a classroom--serious stuff--they should be suspended. Vandalism? What disability manifests itself via vandalism?
Look, I know there are disabilities out there that, for example, leave people unaware of social norms that the rest of us take for granted. I'm not saying that if such a kid violates a social norm--for instances, pinches someone's butt once--that that kid should be suspended. I'm saying that unless someone's disability is "a-holish-ness", they don't get off the hook for the things we're now required to let certain kids off the hook for (and yes, I'm deliberately leaving out a lot of specifics in order not to cross any lines).
What bothers me is that certain kids, merely by virtue of receiving special education services, can completely disrupt a classroom (or, in some cases, an entire school) and no punishment, short of having to attend yet another meeting, is accrued. It seems that in the eyes of the law, that kid is the only kid that matters, and none of the other kids in the classroom or school--the ones whose education is being disrupted--does. That's not just wrong, it's unjust.
Injustice ticks me off. It's not American.