Special Education Reform?

I remember 20 plus years ago when I was getting my graduate degree in Special Education and a buddy of mine getting his degree in elementary education told me that his father, a school principal, said that I probably shouldn’t waste my time getting a masters in Special Education. He said that Special Education would be eventually fading out of public education. I was almost done with my masters at this point so I figured I would have to take my chances with it, besides what other choice did I have anyways at that point?

I got a Special Education job and taught for about 10 year. There were a lot of ups and downs over those 10 years, and eventually I decided that I wanted a change so I got certified and switched over to high school history. At this point in my career I remembered what my friend had said a decade ago and wondered if I was ahead of the curve on schools no longer needing special education teachers, even though it was 10 years later. I wondered if my job was now safe in my new-found home in the history department.

Well, I loved teaching history, but life has its own funny ways that aren’t aligned to us and what we want, so after a decade of teaching history I personally got a first class education on budget cuts and my job was eliminated. Thankfully, I landed on my feet back in Special Education, believe it or not.

It had been more than two decades since my old graduate school buddy told me that the need for special education teachers was disappearing. During the previous two decades my friend had gone from graduate school to elementary school teacher to assistant principal to principal, just like his father had done. I had gone from graduate school to special education teacher to history teacher to back to special education teacher, like nobody else that I know had done. And believe it or not there was still a bunch of special education jobs available when I landed there for a second time. As a matter of fact, there was actually plenty of jobs there because there is a shortage of special education teachers in 49 out of our 50 states. Imagine that… Two decades after I was told that Special Education was going away, and I find that they still can’t seem to get enough special education teachers.

Fast-forward a few more years to today and there is a new and interesting twist affecting Special Education called full inclusion. Now inclusion isn’t a new thing to our schools. As a matter of fact inclusion has a long interesting history in our schools.

Six decades ago there was the Supreme Court Case of Brown v. Board of Education. In 1954 the new law of the land became integrated schools for all races. Four decades ago the ground-breaking law of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) began to take effect and help ensure that more than six million students with disabilities have the right to a free and appropriate education, which means they too get to be included in with the general education population.

To help this happen schools create a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) that meet and discuss a student’s Individual Education Program (IEP) and then place the student in the appropriate educational setting based on the student’s needs and the law. The placement also needs to be the least restrictive environment (LRE). I can still remember my college professor describing the least restrictive environment in a short story that one would not bring a machine gun to take care of a fly. Rather, one would just bring a fly-swatter to take care of a fly. In other words, if a kid’s disability can be dealt with in the neighborhood school, then the kid doesn’t have to be sent across town or even to another town’s special school.

Today, many schools are trying to improve on this inclusion model and least restrictive environment by going from a partial to a full-inclusion model. Schools in the Los Angeles School District have moved a vast majority of their students out of their special education centers within the last three years and into neighborhood schools where they are fully integrated into elective classes like physical education, gardening and cooking. They are also integrated into regular main stream academic classes as well, but it’s usually not to the same degree as electives.

Michigan schools say that want to break down the walls between general education and Special Education creating a system in which students will get more help when they need it, and that support doesn’t need to be in a separate special education classroom.

Some school districts in Portland, Oregon are a little further along than the Los Angeles schools that are just bringing special education students back from special schools and Michigan schools that are just beginning to try full integration of its students and eliminating most of the special education classrooms.

Being a little further along in the process Portland makes an interesting case study. Many of the parents who initially supported the idea of integrating special education students into regular education classrooms in Portland are now worried about how the Portland Public School System is doing it. Portland is aiming for full-inclusion by the year 2020. However, some of the teachers in Portland are saying, “Obviously the special education students are going to fail and they are going to act out because we are not meeting their needs… If there’s not the right support there, that’s not acceptable, not only for the child, but for the general education teacher as well.”

A Portland parent said, “I would rather have my child feel successful than for them to be ‘college-ready’.” She further states, “I want my children to be good, well-rounded human beings that make the world a better place. I don’t think they necessarily need to go to college to do that. I think that children are individuals, and when we stop treating them as individuals, there’s a problem.” Sadly, many parents and teachers have left the Portland School District, and many more are fantasizing about it because they feel the full-inclusion model isn’t working there how they pictured it would.

How much should schools integrate the special education students is the burning question of the hour. In my personal experience some integration is not only possible, but it’s a must. With some support many of the special education students can be in the regular education classrooms.

A few years ago I even had a non-speaking paraplegic boy in a wheel chair who was on a breathing respirator sitting in my regular education social studies class. Every day his para professional and his nurse rolled him into and sat with him. He always smiled at the tales I told of Alexander the Great marching across 11,000 miles of territory and conquering much of the known world at that time. By the way, Alexander the Great also practiced his own model of inclusion by encouraging kindness to the conquered and encouraging his soldiers to marry the captured territory’s women in order to create a lasting peace.

Other important factors to consider in special education inclusion is the much needed socialization and the saving of money integration offers. Kids learn from other kids and money not spent on Special Education could be spent on general education, right? Hmm…

If you noticed, I said a little bit earlier that many special education students could be integrated, but I did not say all or even most should be integrated. There are just some students that are going to take away too much of the teacher’s time and attention from other students, such as, in the case of students with severe behavior problems. When we put severe behavior problems in regular education classes it’s just outright unfair to all of the other children in there. Similar cases could be made for other severe disabilities too that demand too much of the main stream teacher’s individual time and attention.

Hey, I’m not saying to never try out a kid with a severe disability in a general education setting. But what I am saying is that schools need to have a better system of monitoring these placements and be able to quickly remove students that aren’t working out, and are taking precious learning time away from other students. Furthermore, schools need to do this without shaming the teacher because the teacher complained that the student wasn’t a good fit and was disrupting the educational learning process of the other students. Leaving a kid in an inappropriate placement isn’t good for any of the parties involved. Period.

Over the last two decades I have worked with more special education students than I can remember as a special education teacher and a regular education teacher teaching inclusion classes. I have learned to become extremely flexible and patient and thus have had some of the toughest and most needy kids placed in my classes. I have worked miracles with these kids over the years and I know that I am not the only teacher out there doing this. There are many more out there just like me. But, what I worry about is that because teachers are so dedicated and pulling off daily miracles in the classroom, districts, community leaders, and politician may be pushing too hard for the full-inclusion model thinking that the teachers will just have to figure it out. Setting up teachers and students for failure is never a good idea.

Furthermore, I hope it’s just not the money that they are trying to save while pushing this full-inclusion model forward because what we should really be trying to save is our children. As Fredrick Douglas said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Regardless of how the financial educational pie is sliced, the bottom line is that the pie is just too small and our special education teachers and our special education students shouldn’t be made to pay for this.

In addition, I have been a teacher for too long to not be at least a little skeptical when I hear the bosses say that the reason they are pushing for the full-inclusion model is because socialization is so important. I know it’s important. But, I also know that too many people are hanging their hats on that socialization excuse rather than education our special needs students and providing them what they really need. I have seen special education students whose abilities only let them draw pictures sitting in honors classes. There is no real socialization taking place here. It just doesn’t make sense.

Well, finally coming full circle. It will be interesting to see where this full inclusion thing goes. The wise ones won’t let their special education teachers go, or get rid of their classrooms. And for the school districts that do, I imagine that it won’t take long before they realize the mistake they made and start hiring special education teachers back. To my friend and his now ex-principal father from all those years ago who thought special education was going away, well, we’re not there yet, and to tell you the truth, I don’t think we ever will be.

Selecting the Best Contractor For Your Home Improvement Project

Maintaining or renovating a home can be a very daunting task for most people. However, after all the hard work and investment in time and resources you have allocated for a home improvement project, the satisfaction of seeing a superbly crafted home that you can call your own can be priceless indeed. Such is the importance of choosing the best and most qualified contractor who is knowledgeable and capable enough to turn your vision into a remarkable work of art.When choosing a contractor for repairs or renovations for your home improvement project, it is vital that you first acquire all the important information about a particular contractor before ever committing in getting their services. You need to make sure that they are capable of performing all the inclusive work, including customized builds and improvements that you would want your home to have. To get all these pertinent information, you should ask your contractors a strategic set of questions designed to extract all the data that you will need. To help you start in this direction, you should ask the following set of questions:* Does the contractor have the appropriate knowledge and experience with the type of home improvement project that you have in mind?According to recent information from the industry, approximately 80 percent of contractors and builders are knowledgeable and are adequately trained in the latest construction and building techniques. However, even though they may have the training with these new techniques and the certifications to show for it (ex: techniques in energy-saving green building technologies, etc), their actual experience may have just been picked up or even achieved as they work on new projects. On some cases, the home renovation projects may involve a historic home with irreplaceable artifacts or sections. A contractor may not have the expertise in dealing with such a home nor could they match the craftsmanship involved with these historic masterpieces.* Is there an existing relationship between your contractor and architect/designer and have they worked together on a project before?For your home improvement project, you may take on the services of some of the best architects and interior designers in the whole of Massachusetts. To complement the expertise of these professionals, it is but proper to also get the services of the best contractors for the project. In such cases, it would be best to choose a contractor whom your architect or designer knows. They may be aware of the track record of these contractors and may be comfortable working with some that they can identify. With such arrangements, you can be assured of a timely completion of your project and in the manner that you envisioned it to be.* When you inquire something about the project, does the contractor communicate well with you?It is a normal thing for homeowners to ask something about a home remodeling project from their contractors. However, if all you get is a hasty answer without much details and it would appear that they want you off their faces, then be careful of such contractors. A good contractor should be receptive of the needs of their clients and should be ready to discuss every detail of the project should you ask for it.* Is the contractor experienced in working with your kind of home?A commercial construction is different from a home construction in terms of details and even on building and safety codes. The contractor should be adept in the type of home that you have, otherwise they might turn your priced possession into their laboratory for trial-and-error building methods.* How fast can the contractor start and how soon can they complete the job?Finding the best contractor is one thing, but having them start on your home as per schedule is another. You might be at the end of a long list of clients and would have to sit it out for months on end. You should weigh the urgency of having the work done as soon as possible or getting the services of the best contractor that you can get.* Is there a guarantee for their work after completion?A competent contractor will give you the assurance of an excellent renovation or repair work and will provide you with a guarantee on the work done. They should be confident enough of the quality of their work and give their clients the assurance that they need.Conducting a one-of-a-kind home improvement project for your Massachusetts home entails the best services from the best professionals available for the job. Taking a few extra moments in checking out your contractors before hiring them can spell the difference between a disastrous undertakings or a magnificent work of art you can call your home.

Treat Your Food and Drink Allergies

Certain food and drink allergies can make you very uncomfortable in few situations, keeping you always suspicious of what you are about to eat or drink. This can affect a human in a many different ways. Just think about it! How easy it is to have the same food every day you are already bored with? Well let me give you a clue, ”It’s NOT Easy.”Even worse factor is, in some of the cases when you were able to enjoy a certain food or drink, but in the meanwhile you have developed an allergic reaction to it. It surely is very unpleasant to hunger after a certain food and to resent it at the same time because you anticipate the disagreeable effects it will have on you.Food and Drink sensitivityThe way you get allergic reaction is when a specific enzymes in the product you are having can not tolerate some chemical or natural substance of it.The main symptoms are: gas, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, skin rash, headaches, and cough.From another point of view, allergy is an immune response to some allergens, or food proteins that generate the allergy, and has a partially different symptomatology: soft tissues (tongue, lips, eyelids, etc.) swelling lesions itches vomiting culminating anaphylactic shock.Most common Food generating allergies include milk, eggs, seafood, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat.Aloeride effectivenessNow there is a easy way to regain the possibility of using food and drinks banned for long time from your diet. Few cases reports an increased tolerance to substances you could never even think to ingest again after undergoing terrible reactions to them. The fact that Aloeride performs on the immunity system guarantees that allergic reactions, as immunity responses to some mixtures found in food or drinks, can be dealt with. Using Aloeride for drink or food allergies doesn’t really mean you should go and grab everything you had allergy before with. It would be really irresponsible from your side, however Aloeride may actually surprise you, it offers you an opportunity to learn simple things like rightfully appreciated food, especially after a period of constant prohibition and frustration.