Here is another moving account from a DC teacher at Anacostia senior high school. It tells what special education teachers face day to day in our public school system that is long on promises and short on providing the needed resources and supports. Many would argue that these are 'adult' issues. To which I would counter: "that just doesn't make any sense." Working in a school system that fails to provide adequate and appropriate resources for teachers ultimately impacts student achievement and service delivery. In this case it impacts our most vulnerable population; students with disabilities. Here's what one special education teacher says is happening at Anacostia senior high. (Posted by The Washington Teacher).
"Dear Candi: A meeting was held in response to a special education coordinator's reprimand memo to sped. teachers titled "Overdue Triennials and Annual IEP's." Teachers formed a team to try to address these concerns with recommendations to no avail. Juggling case management responsibility, implementing inclusion without a model while trying to teach are major concerns for sped. teachers at Anacostia SHS. We have far too many students on our case loads to handle our responsibilities effectively. At the beginning of the year Anacostia teachers were given overwhelming caseloads of which 80-85% of student IEP's and triennial evaluations were overdue and out of compliance. Anacostia has more than 300 special education students with approximately 15 teachers. Special education teachers are simply spread too thin. What's wrong with this picture ?
Teachers are raising many questions because these large number of meetings, paper work and case management responsibilities are robbing teachers of required instructional time for disabled students, planning time as well as our lunch periods. The concerns of playing catch up will impact teachers performance appraisals and student test scores. Approximately 99% of the paper work and 100% of scheduling IEP meetings are delegated to sped. teachers instead of being handled by the sped. coordinator. All of our teachers have been told to seek the special education coordinator's advice on IEP issues and concerns. Unfortunately our coordinator offers very little help to us because she is a novice TFA teacher with no experience to qualify for this position. As an alternate solution to this problem, teachers' requested that administrators allow teachers to work outside their regular work day. This request was denied due to a shortage of administrative premium.
Since this is the year of full INCLUSION in our schools, sped. teachers at Anacostia believe that "co-teaching" may be an unrealistic option. One model WILL NOT fit every student or classroom. Anacostia sped. teachers are scrambling for answers and problem solving strategies as we try to address the mandates of NCLB, IDEIA and Chancellor Rhee.The good news though Candi, is that the research shows that special education students placed in a rigorous class room environment with the appropriate resources (educational aides, highly qualified teachers, behavior specialists, regular and assistive technology and accommodations do better academically and socially and are able to transition from high school to work/career and post secondary training. DC public schools has a long way to go to provide this level of academic rigor due to the lack of a citywide inclusion model, necessary teacher positions, appropriate staff development and needed resources. Please help. " Anonymous Teacher.