Sunday, February 06, 2011

It's Only Funny Because of the Truth It Holds

Anyone who's been a teacher long enough has had at least one conference like this.

Hat tip to Buckhorn Road, where I first saw this video


Unknown said...

What is a 504 plan?

Darren said...

It's a catch-all.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 calls for accommodations for physical and mental disabilities (e.g., an extremely obese kid may need more time to get to class and shouldn't be marked late, or a diabetic should be allowed to eat during class time if necessary) or for specific learning disabilities--and it's that last phrase that's the catch all. If your kid doesn't qualify for special ed and all the help it confers, have a doctor say he/she has a "learning disability" and then the kid can get a "504 Plan". Said plan may say the kid can have more time on tests, only has to do half the homework, or some other such non-academically-sound gobbledygook. Yet it has the force of law, as a special ed IEP does.

House of Prayer SLO said...

Did someone have my classroom "bugged" during my fall conferences??? I can't tell you how many times I've had that conversation VERBATIM with some parent/grandparent/guardian.

DADvocate said...

Forty years ago, I took a "Parent Effectiveness Training" course for Dr. Thomas Gordon, the founder of PET. He recommended the if it happens at school it is the schools problem approach. Looks like it caught on. He lived in California.

Anonymous said...

A 504 plan is often the only way to get a school to pay attention to a kid's special needs. Yes, kids do have special needs. My kid has ADHD (yes, it is a real disability). The first year we had a 504 plan, the school ignored it. We learned that if we scheduled enough meetings with the teacher,principal and assorted administrators, the plan would get followed. Apparently, it was neccessary that we made following the plan less of a hassle than not following the plan.

The ugly truth the video holds is that the teacher NEVER acknowledged that Timmy had a 504 plan and apparently she had not read it and had no intention of reading/following it.

For what it's worth, the basic concept behind my kid's 504 plan was that she be able to learn new things in class, and that she couldn't be either the best behaved or highest performing kid in class. I'm not certain why those things were so difficult for the school to provide.

We have had the same issue with IEPs. One year, the school said it was too much of a hassle to hire a speech therapist and so that no one at the school would have speech therapy. Fortunately, we had seen this school and other schools try to pull stunts like this in the past. We were able to find someone who told us that the school was legally obliged to follow the IEP, and showed us the steps to file a complaint with the state, etc. Once we demonstrated that we knew enough of the law to make their lives difficult, the administrators managed to hire a speech therapist.

Anonymous said...

Darren: "Said plan may say the kid can have more time on tests..."

I actually understand this. Depending on the circumstances, I may or may not agree with it (and disagree tremendously with doing this on standardized tests).

Darren: "...only has to do half the homework."

And this I totally don't understand. Unless the assumption is that homework is unnecessary busywork (in which case why shouldn't the entire class get to do only half?), this just puts the 504'd kid further behind, right? If I had a kid who was learning to play the piano, a plan that let the kid skip ½ the practice that the other kids were doing would not look to me like a good thing.

What am I missing?

-Mark Roulo

PeggyU said...

The funny thing is, I have worked with a student who had an IEP because of Asperger syndrome.He really is a gifted student with a communication disorder. At 17, he is now a junior in college, majoring in math/computer science. The accomodations we tried to get for him, when he was in middle school, included getting him into advance placement and college classes so that he could do the work he was capable of. The teachers were for the most part very supportive and helpful, because they recognized his abilities. The administrators, on the other hand, seemed to delight in obstructing his progress. Fortunately, this student was so focused on what he wanted to do that he prevailed.

I know the 504 plans are intended to help these students, but I can't tell you how many times my student's mother had to fight with the school system to get them to honor the terms of the plan. I know of another student with severe hearing loss who had a hearing aid, and whose IEP included having a desk at the front of the room so that the background noise wouldn't drown out the teacher's voice. I thought this was a reasonable request, but for some reason they opted to seat him a few rows back, next to a girl who made involuntary noises! It took several calls to the school and an IEP meeting to get him moved to the front of the classroom.

There are kids who can benefit from simple accomodations, but I think that putting this plan system in place creates an atmosphere of conflict. I have not seen one student with an IEP who didn't have to repeatedly request that the outlined accomodations be granted. I think if I had a child with special needs, I would concentrate on building good relationships with teachers and making reasonable requests - rather than getting an IEP. It seems like more of a headache than a solution.

Darren said...

ADHD is a real condition, and it's appropriate to deal with it under Section 504. 504 is often abused, though.

PeggyU said...

Eeek. I can't spell "accommodate"! I did it twice!

I have a question related to special education. I understand that all children are entitled to a public education, but sometimes I wonder about the wisdom of placing severely disabled kids in regular public schools.

For example, there was a girl in my son's class who was autistic and nonverbal. She also had seizures. Once, as we were coming into the school building, we saw her out in front, lying on the sidewalk and banging her head against it. It was unnerving. There were no less than five people attempting to stop her from injuring herself and trying to get her back on her feet.

One of our neighbors has a son who is also autistic. He likes to remove his clothes and go au natural. He has been known to run into traffic, so must be heavily supervised. He also loves pinatas ... and everything is a pinata to him! He, too, is in the special education class in the public school system.

I don't really see how a public school can be up to addressing the needs of these students, since so much energy must go to just getting them there and back home again in one piece. It seems like there should be an alternate choice for these kids.

Incidentally, the girl I mentioned graduated on time with her classmates. I am not sure what graduating really meant for her, other than that she had put in her time and met her legal obligation to attend school.

Anonymous said...

Actually the teacher said that there was nothing in his cumulative file that suggests he needs special services. 504 plans are kept in the cumulative file and updated as needed. They are a legal requirement and must be followed. However, the point that was being made was that the student (in the cartoon) had multiple "disabilities" that had been diagnosed by his mother. Do some students need 504 plans to make reasonable adaptations for their disabilities? Without a doubt. Did "Timmy" in the cartoon require one?

Ellen K said...

It has become a nightmare trying to address individual students' needs in today's classrooms. In addition to students with 504, IEP's, BIP's and ELL/ESL with cuts in education we now get students who are nonverbal, nonwriting, nonreading who are placed in elective courses as what amounts to babysitting. When you have a class of over 30 students, it is terrifying to have one or two students who may hit themselves, cut themselves, shout out profanities or throw things. This is doubly so in an art classroom at the secondary level where we work with paint, craft knives and other materials that can be dangerous if misused. There are no aides in place and in trying to administer to the needs of documented special students, those average students are not getting the assistance and instructional time they need. The mandate from the federal government to provide in school programs for severely disabled students has made it where the average classroom teacher often provides what amounts to daycare because these students cannot even begin to work on the secondary level. I wish that this cartoon weren't so close to the truth. But we have a generation of parents who would prefer to blame the shortcomings of their own children on some entity such as the schools. Having taught at private schools I can assure you that the same scenario goes on there. The difference is that if the parents have enough money, they can push and if they don't their kid gets pushed out.

Anonymous said...

The plethora of sentences to describe 504 arepathetic.

Stamp the petulant parents and their spoiled children with this simple phrase:
" Do not flunk."

In a school system driven by the ridiculous goal of college ready, at the behest of our over-subsidized and under-producing/unaccountable university system, this is what happens.

IF we only had the school system of West Germany OR Singapore, which is driven by MERIT where those who show promise are given the opportunity to attend college courses and move up, while those who do not are given an appropriate path towards a trade, But NO, parents want only the best and refuse to accept genetics as the prime determinant of IQ.

The American Dream died 2.5 years ago with the explosion of the only asset that kept the middle class from poverty. There is NO such thing as pulling yourself up by your bootstraps UNLESS you have a genetic IQ to do so.

The 504 plan is nothing more than out of touch parents pounding a square peg, their child, into a round hole, college prep.

How pathetic.

IF only.....

Anonymous said...

The 504 law is quite explicit regarding accommodations.

A "nice" accommodation is by request a "necessary" one.

Shrewd teachers at the 504 meeting ask precisely this question of parents: "How is that accommodation NECESSARY?"

Since most parents TWISTED the arms of doctors to get a 504 diagnosis, they go silent at this point.

The 504 plan is often how manipulative parents wring a private education out of the public system.

The only problem is that it often DESTROYS the child, if done fraudulently.

Anonymous said...

Where do 504 and IEP children go after they graduate from high school.

Best case scenario: To a room in the mansion of their parents where they stay for the next 40 years waiting for their inheritance.

Worst case scenario: Wards of the state which means they wander the streets and hope to get some kind of state care or prison term.

Sad, but very true.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't spent years actually participating in parent-teacher conferences with parents who are EXACTLY like this you cannot begin to understand the humor. This is not to diminish the fact that many students have a plethora of different disabilities, but so do many parents who NEVER see what the teachers see each and everyday (regardless of how many times we spend our lunch hours trying to communicate with them.) They refuse to accept any responsibility for their childs apathy. That why volunteering FREE tutoring is such a joke because people rarely send their children yep, it's always the teachers fault.

Anonymous said...


We can make all the accomadation we want or that are needed on a 504. But, until the parents are as dedicated as the teaching staff ( and in my experince most of these particulary diffiucult parents, as seen above, aren't)to their childs education the child will not excell at any level. The parents want the educational system to make all the accomodation/concessions while they themselves refuse to make any concessions or take any responsibilty for their childs education.

And can anybody tell me why it is acceptable that these sever cases are required to be mainstreamed with their non "disabled" peers where thier disabiliy makes it imposible for the teacher to effectively teach either the disabled or non disabled students?

Who exactly wins in this situation? It sure isn't the students.