Sep 3, 2008

No Special Education Teacher For You !

Under Deputy Chancellor for Special Education Phyliss Harris' new model- many DC public school students diagnosed with emotional disabilities reported to newly created self contained programs. Little did their unsuspecting parents know that many of these special education programs lacked special educational teachers, educational aides and the much needed textbooks which somehow just did not get ordered by the Office of Special Education. The devil is in the details. To date major complaints have surfaced from the Shadd Center which some contend has become an institutional warehouse of disabled students. In lieu of having adequate certified special education teachers and support personnel for these programs , some central office staff are regularly performing as fill-in substitutes. Are we awaiting the call-back of the 269 terminated teachers, 78 terminated probationary teachers and the 500 terminated educational aides who were recently separated from DCPS ???? Is this a denial of a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE)- you decide.

Other complaints have surfaced from Ferebee Hope and Garfield Elementary Schools where self contained classrooms lack special education teachers, educational aides and textbooks still. If you know of a situation in which DC programs lack special education teachers/educational aides, lack textbooks, utilize school social workers as substitutes or aides, or DC teachers/providers who are working outside of their certification area, drop me a line @ Posted by Candi


jessica said...

Hey there Candi!

Just wondering about your numbers...

How many of those terminated were terminated because they did not pass the praxis or otherwise are not highly qualified or did not take steps toward becoming highly qualified? Because if your numbers include those folks, one would think that having the unqualified or non compliant people in a classroom is no good either.

Your thoughts?

Candi said...

I do not have the figures for how many teachers did not pass the praxis. Some of the terminated teachers had action plans which were approved in February '08 by the Office of the Chancellor. They were led to believe that they would not be terminated due to these newly signed agreements. The unfortunate part about this - is that the new DC hires also are not certified either and have less credentials than those teachers that were fired.

DC Teacher Chic said...

I agree with the Jessica. We really don't want unqualified people coming back just because they have a pulse.

Those new teachers hired this year under provisional licenses will have the same three years everyone else had to get their credentials together. If they are unwilling to do so after thos three years, they will rightly be fired.

jessica said...

Back again. I know that there were aides at my school who were let go because they had not passed the praxis or refused to take it. In my situation, having any warm body would be better than the aides we let go. They abused kids, degraded them and were all around negative folks that should not be working for us. In conversations with others for other schools, I have head similar sentiments. Certainly, there must be some that were terminated that should not have been, but, at my school, it was for the best, and at the end of the day, I think that standards must be upheld.

And about the new DC hires? How many are actually uncertified vs. folks who are coming from other districts and previously credentialed and awaiting a DC teaching license? I can think of a few of those folks at my school right now. We have three new to DC teachers who are certified in other states and currently are "unlicensed". Those folks should not be counted in your numbers of uncertified teachers.

I know you said before that you don't have the figures, and I respect what you are trying to do I feel that to maintain the integrity of your blog, you should provide more balanced information. I think your voice would be more well received if you offered more factual information without as much sensationalizing. I enjoy reading here and other blogs that are on the other side of the aisle and have yet to make up my mind about where I stand, and I know there are others like me. Give us a fair snapshot of the situation.


Candi Peterson said...

Jessica: Thanks for stopping by. My goal is to provide factual information to all but certainly I welcome others to solicit as much information as possible so that they can make as informed decisions as possible. I encourage our members to come out to our WTU Board bi-monthly meetings, attend monthly meetings at their local schools and speak to your elected teacher representatives.

Unfortunately DCPS has not provided the WTU with the information on what the specific reasons that all of the 269 terminated teachers were fired. I do know that all of them were not fired due to not passing the praxis. One such example is the blind teacher who was featured on Channel 9 news with Bruce Johnson. I too think that we need this vital information but presently it does not appear to be available in the DCPS data base.

We do know that the 78 terminated teachers received meets and above expectations evaluations and were fired due to being probationary. Of course- we are not privy to confidential information on the educational aides because the WTU does not represent them.

The unfortunate problem with DC educational aides is that DCPS did not set system wide standards/expectations for these positions and unfortunately failed to provide aides with the appropriate and adequate types of staff development over many years. Their salaries were extremely low and if they remain that way- they will not attract highly qualified individuals in the future. I think if we are going to look to attract better qualified aides in the future- then our system will need to look to modeling our school system like other public school systems in the area and consider paying higher than minimum wages, providing benefits and appropriate and regular staff development, etc.

Anonymous said...


I was wondering if you had heard any news about dedicated aides being required to pass a Praxis test? I was under the impression that only instructional aides needed to. I'm concerned that my principal has misunderstood a recent memo re: this!

Also, what are your thoughts on instructional and/or dedicated aides serving as classroom substitutes?