I think we can all agree that in the best of circumstances each child should be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment. I know of very few parents who jump and shout with glee when they are told their child needs an IEP. I suspect most of us parenting in IEP land would be much happier to just be worrying about the latest exam prep for the newest Gifted and Talented program.
So as this spring's IEP meetings come to an end, I came across this gem under Special Ed News on the United Federation of Teachers website: The Time is Now. The article basically sums up that the teacher is an advocate for the student, not a pawn of the school district and that they need to recommend what is right for the child, which is as it should be.
The DOE and some administrators though seem to disagree.
My personal favorite quote in the article is the text of an email sent from a school administrator telling teachers attending IEP meetings the following:
“Please be advised of the following changes when recommending ICT for a student:
The maximum number of periods for a full-time ICT student should be 25 and not 30. The periods designated for ICT should reflect the subjects taught in the student’s classroom. Please do not designate any ICT periods for cluster classes.”
What the hell was that administrator thinking? Did he or she think that an email directing teachers to limit ICT (Integrated Co-Teaching) services on a school wide (or maybe District wide) was a great idea? I mean really, if you want teachers to jack kids over at IEP meetings, at least just whisper in their ears, don't put it in an email that will surface one of these days. You think people would have learned not to put this stuff in emails. You'd think most DOE administrators are old enough to remember that Nixon never would have gotten busted if he hadn't tape recorded his conversations.
But then again, people like me are delighted that they were dopey enough to put it in an email since there is now a nice paper trail of decisions not being made in the best interest of the child but rather in the best interest of the school district.
Luckily I am reasonably happy with Eliza's IEP (well as happy as any parent ever is I suppose). But what about the parents who are unhappy? Or were convinced by the IEP team that reducing ICT services was in the child's best interest? Or who don't have the financial, emotional and mental energy to fight? What happens to them?
Teachers have enough on their plates as it is, between teaching, filling out a million forms for the DOE, prepping kids for tests, changing their curriculum at the whim of the DOE, dealing with wacky parents, The list of what they have to do is endless. Now the DOE, or at least some administrators, want them to convince parents that their children need less services so the DOE can save money under this new scheme?
If the DOE wants to reduce services to save money, let them put on their man panties and show up at the IEP meetings and say "hey we're not paying for this stuff anymore."
Don't put teachers between the rock and a hard place.