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The Sunday Journal for June 4:
Special Education Run Amok


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Wish is more than the story of a girl and her dog. It wags the heart strings of anyone who wants to understand how being 'broken' affects children in ways we cannot imagine.

Sunday journal

There is a disturbing trend in education that I began to notice around 2013, and that is the inclination among teachers and administrators to funnel anyone who is not learning at a typical rate toward special education.

There are several reasons that students do not learn.  Having a cognitive disability is one of them.  But so are lack of interest and lack of effort, social-emotional issues, as well as poor attendance.  Special Education seems to have become an umbrella placement for any of these cases, when it should be reserved for those who are truly encumbered by an inability to learn.  Teachers are required to document the interventions they have attempted with their lagging learners, including those who just don’t seem to want to learn.  

After a certain amount of documentation has been collected (this usually takes much of the school year), a student can be referred for cognitive, speech, and/or social-emotional testing to determine whether he should be placed in special ed.  The paperwork for this process is massive.  Once a child has been classified as such, he is given an IEP, Individual Education Program, that dictates everything about his education from that point forward: learning goals for math and/or reading;  social-emotional goals, if appropriate;  accommodations and/or modifications for classroom instruction and testing; number of minutes per week the students will receive instruction from the SpEd teacher.


 The IEP is a legal document enforced at the federal level.  Keeping up with it is such a huge undertaking that some school districts (including my former Colorado district) give their SpEd teachers one full workday every two weeks just for paperwork.  On that day, no services are rendered to students.


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We can fix the problem, but we need an overhaul in how we view and manage public education.

Reading this book is a good start.

The paradigm of education has shifted over the last decade. Documentation and data collection have eclipsed teaching as the mainstay in a teacher's career.

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from Beautiful Loveland Pass, Colorado.

Moonlight Shred  2015.

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Intro to

The Bottom Line

From the 2022 book Chaos in Our Schools:

The Bottom Line
    There’s an insidious element in education that is unnoticed by most people. Schools are not set up for the children; they are set up for the convenience of the adults who run them. If children were the top priority in a school, they would not be assigned to static class groupings without the opportunity to advance to a different group when they are ready.
   If children were the top priority, the people who work with them would be seen as more important than the bureaucrats who direct those people. Class groups would not be divided into “fair” sets of upper, middle, and low aptitudes. The behavior problems would not be dispersed throughout the school so that every other child has his education seriously diminished by the outlandishness of a few.
   If children were truly the reason schools exist, the ratio of adult to child would be a reasonable and realistic one.

   Our schools, particularly at the elementary level, are operated with the guiding principles that
    1) Procedures and standards, copiously outlined, meet the

        education needs of students,
    2) Children should be arranged in groupings that are

        acceptable to the adults in charge.

   This is nonsense, but at present, there is little that can be done to thwart these ideals because the teachers’ unions won’t allow for a sensible approach to education.

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Why Differentiation
Doesn't Work

"Differentiation is a failure, a farce, and the ultimate educational joke played on countless educators and students. By having dismantled many of the provisions we used to offer kids on the edges of learning, ... we have sacrificed the learning of virtually every student."
                -    Dr. James Delisle, in Education Week

Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.

                                   Albert Einstein

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The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.

                                                      B.B. King

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

                                  Nelson Mandela

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