Article Written by Spec. Ed. Dir.

Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 7:31am
bandbmom's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/14/2005 - 09:00

For a second, I thought the following article was written by our SD's Special Education Director.........

***WARNING*** hold your jaw while reading the following article so it doesn't hit the floor!!!!

[url="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2006/0..."]http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2006/0... HRU1Q1.DTL[/url]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What's an appropriate education?
Demands for services are beyond what schools can provide
- Karen Mates
Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Over the years, special education has moved from an inequitable, discriminatory system to programs of hope, encouragement and success for children with special needs. There exists, however, a little-known system in education that is a disaster in the making for all citizens hoping for better services in our public schools.

Exposed by Chronicle staff writer Nanette Asimov ("Extra-special learning at public expense, Feb. 19), the practice of confidential settlements granting special-education parents publicly funded tuition at private schools is widespread and the total expense is rapidly rising.

Suing public schools has become a specialty field for attorneys. Seminars are being held around the state on how to file due-process hearings against school districts. A great practice, if schools were banks instead of underfunded public institutions entrusted with the care and future of our children.

Public schools must certainly provide the best possible education for children with disabilities (and for all children), however, this becomes exceedingly difficult when tax dollars destined for all our public school youth are given to a few whose parents believe they are entitled to services beyond what the public schools provide. The result is huge amounts of money ($34 million in San Francisco Unified School District alone) is funneled into special education from the general educational fund over and above what is provided for special education by the state and federal governments.

In attempts to exact for their child what they deem an appropriate education, parents might sue to have a child attend an out-of-state boarding school for a cost of, for example, $60,000 a year, when a suitable program is offered in the district. That $60,000 would then not be available to other students.

The cost of litigating these cases is extraordinary. Often the cost of litigation exceeds the cost of the private-school placement.

Districts have a budget of taxpayers' money within which they must educate all our children. There is no steady stream of additional dollars from the federal, state or local governments to cover skyrocketing special-education costs. There are myriad federal mandates directing special education, yet states never receive the federal funds promised to meet these directives. For example, the Tamalpais Union High School District received from the federal government only 8.1 percent of the total cost of providing special-education services in the 2004-2005 school year.

There is no monetary profit in public education. There are no Christmas bonuses or stock options. Yet, educators become portrayed as evil monsters, always trying to save a buck instead of dedicated professionals trying to create programs designed to insure success for all students.

Educators just want to teach, protect and advocate for all students. Teachers are not paid what they are worth, yet they give their all to other people's children on a daily basis. No one wants to see a child fail. The profit in education is the success of the students. How can we ensure every child receives his or her fair share of funds?

The crux of the problem is that special-education students are entitled to an "appropriate" education, yet "appropriate" is undefined by law and open to interpretation. What school officials believe is appropriate may not be what a parent deems appropriate. The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was revised in 2004, yet "appropriate" was not defined and there are no plans to do so.

Other publicly funded programs, such as food stamps, are based on need. Example: Recipients need to have an income below a government-established level in order to qualify, yet there are no limits on how much in taxpayers' funds parents might be awarded for private programs.

Caps on attorney fees have been mentioned, but fought by lawyers and some parents. Perhaps if public schools were not considered a limitless source of funds, there would be more incentive to talk rather than sue.

Now that this formerly undisclosed system of confidential settlements is out in the open, let's start talking. All of society profits from the success of our children. Lawmakers, educators and parents need to work together to find a socially conscious, child-centered solution that meets the needs of all of our children.

Karen Mates is the director of special education for the Tamalpais Union High School District in Marin County.

[This message has been edited by bandbmom (edited March 23, 2006).]

Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 7:53am
Gail W's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/06/2001 - 09:00

[i]"Now that this formerly undisclosed system of confidential settlements is out in the open, let's start talking. All of society profits from the success of our children. Lawmakers, educators and parents need to work together to find a socially conscious, child-centered solution that meets the needs of all of our children."[/i]
LOL! Okay... so let's start talking, Ms. Mates. My guess is that if it wasn't for the threat of lawsuits, you'd remain silent too. I'm glad that these lawsuits have gotten your attention. So.... let's talk. Shall we?

Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 10:46am
Carefulmom's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

Wow, as I was reading it, I kept thinking about a very close friend of mine who used the fact that her son has Asperger`s to get the school district to pay for private boarding school. As I went further down in the article, the article even mentions that. She wanted to take a trip to Europe and had no one to watch him, so she insisted that he needed to go to this private boarding school. The cost was $5000 per month. It exactly matches the $60,000 per year in the story. She is a very dear friend but does not know how to say no, and her child is the biggest behavior problem in the world because he receives no discipline. He is allowed to steal. He is allowed to break the law. One time he stole a video tape from a mutual friend and when I told her she said "What`s the big deal---it`s a $2 videotape." Of course, since she said nothing, he then stole one from a video store. The alarm went off, the police came, and he had a police record at age 14. Her two older kids who don`t have Asperger`s also had behavior problems due to her permissiveness. Anyhow, she just couldn`t deal with her son`s behavior problems, so instead of trying using the word "no" to him, she got an attorney and made part of his IEP private boarding school. Yep, $60,000 per year that we taxpayers are paying the bill on. Just trying to point out that there are two sides to this story.
[This message has been edited by Carefulmom (edited March 23, 2006).]

Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 10:58am
Momcat's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/15/2005 - 09:00

Another side to this story is the failure of lawmakers and voters to adequately fund education. This is especially true in California which has one of the lowest per pupil spending rates in the nation. The blame should not be placed on parents who are insisting that their children receive needed services.
Cathy

Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 11:07am
Carefulmom's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

That is only true if the district is not providing the needed services. That isn`t always the case.

Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 11:32am
MommaBear's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by Carefulmom:
[b]Wow, as I was reading it, I kept thinking about a very close friend of mine who used the fact that her son has Asperger`s to get the school district to pay for private boarding school. As I went further down in the article, the article even mentions that. She wanted to take a trip to Europe and had no one to watch him, so she insisted that he needed to go to this private boarding school. The cost was $5000 per month. It exactly matches the $60,000 per year in the story. She is a very dear friend but does not know how to say no, and her child is the biggest behavior problem in the world because he receives no discipline. He is allowed to steal. He is allowed to break the law. One time he stole a video tape from a mutual friend and when I told her she said "What`s the big deal---it`s a $2 videotape." Of course, since she said nothing, he then stole one from a video store. The alarm went off, the police came, and he had a police record at age 14. Her two older kids who don`t have Asperger`s also had behavior problems due to her permissiveness. Anyhow, she just couldn`t deal with her son`s behavior problems, so instead of trying using the word "no" to him, she got an attorney and made part of his IEP private boarding school. Yep, $60,000 per year that we taxpayers are paying the bill on. Just trying to point out that there are two sides to this story.
[/b]
I too, know someone who has has their child attend a private facility paid for by the public education system. The parents are lawyers. Their child is a teen with NVLD.
But I'd just like to point out, behavior problems are something that occur in your "typical" children as well. KWIM? Theft too. Prisons are filled with "typical" people. I'm trying to put this [i]nicely[/i].
I'll use my oldest as an example. Age 10. He has "Aspergers". He's as honest as they get. I fear he could not lie to save his own life. Literally. [i]It frightens me.[/i] Ask him which teacher he likes better. He will never take a side. [i]And I believe this is an honest response from him.[/i] His moral standard exacts it from him. He is genuine, honest, concerned, and altruistic. Staff at school continually tell me they [i]have never met someone as kind, compassionate, and caring as he is[/i]. I have strangers in stores come up to me and expound on his politeness. Hey, I could connect this to his "Aspergers". But you know? [i]I'd just rather say it's who he is.[/i] It's just a label. KWIM?
And ya. I mean, Is my child receiving an "appropriate" education? Depends on your perspective. I mean, how far would you push a public school system to accommodate a Life Threatening Food Allergy? I believe his needs associated with "Aspergers" are [i]just as important and necessary[/i] as those associated with his Life Threatening Food Allergies. Just.
That said, I'm not requiring my school district to provide a "homebound option". But then again, it's not a *perfect* environment involving the "Aspergers" end either. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] But he's managing. Quite well. Food allergies *and* Aspergers. And I believe people are genuinely invested in meeting both needs. That's about as much as I can ask of the world. Life can be that way, I mean.
For example. Recently, I found it necessary to informally educate a little on "Executive Functioning" in relation to Aspergers. Then again, I also found it necessary to revisit some food allergy needs as well.
I mean, If I was going to ask for a homebound option, I just might ask for a private school too. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/tongue.gif[/img] I mean, if I looked at life in general that way. But I haven't pursued either. And he is thriving. Adversity can be that way. But I'm not ready to say "adversity" right now. For either the food allergy or the Aspergers. (staring at that 102% he earned on a recent test hanging on the fridge---even got the "extra credit" [i]essay[/i] question. and here I was worried about his composition skills at the beginning of the year. and by the way....he takes tests with no accomodations, either.) Maybe it's just us. What can I say?
[i]Lemons. Lemonaide.[/i] But hey, the lemonaide wasn't always this sweet. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/cool.gif[/img]
General Disclaimer: I am not offering advice in any manner or form. Just speaking personally.
[This message has been edited by MommaBear (edited March 23, 2006).]

Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 11:42am
MommaBear's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by Carefulmom:
[b]That is only true if the district is not providing the needed services. That isn`t always the case.[/b]
then I have to ask: Is "gifted education" (of whatever kind--even the whole [i]"segregated"/"magnet"[/i] kind, even a [b]needed service[/b]?
Sure. maybe they should define: "appropriate". In relation to "gifted". I think I'd be tickled. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]
Personally? I always thought [i]cream rose to the top[/i]regardless of the substrate it was in. Personally? Seems like the true test of "cream". [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/cool.gif[/img] But hey, maybe I'm wrong.
[This message has been edited by MommaBear (edited March 23, 2006).]

Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 11:54am
Carefulmom's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by Carefulmom:
[b]Her two older kids who don`t have Asperger`s also had behavior problems due to her permissiveness.
[This message has been edited by Carefulmom (edited March 23, 2006).][/b]
MB, that addresses your first post. His behavior has nothing to do with his having Aspergers, since I already said that her two older kids without Aspergers had behavior problems too.
About the giftedness, here the gifted kids are in their own class starting third grade. The gifted kids in public school definitely have their needs addressed. Dd will graduate elementary school in June and for middle school will attend a gifted magnet. IQ must be over 130 to go. It is a public school.

Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 12:05pm
MommaBear's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by Carefulmom:
[b] MB, that addresses your first post. His behavior has nothing to do with his having Aspergers, since I already said that her two older kids without Aspergers had behavior problems too. [/b]
but are their behavior problems being [i]"allowed to steal" and "breaking the law"[/i]?
Quote:About the giftedness, here the gifted kids are in their own class starting third grade. [b]The gifted kids in public school definitely have their needs addressed.[/b] Dd will graduate elementary school in June and for middle school will attend a gifted magnet. IQ must be over 130 to go. It is a public school.
bold added.
but can they say the same about "special education" needs? In the public schools.
I feel *everyone* should get the chance to meet their potential, don't you? Or at least equitably.
Yes. I think define "necessary/needed" as well as "appropriate". Don't you think?

Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 12:06pm
MommaBear's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

They might even have to take a look at the word: "equitably"......

Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2006 - 10:23pm
notnutty's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/15/2004 - 09:00

You must read the related article from a few months ago:
[url="http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/02/19/MNG8THBH4V1.DTL&popref=http%3A//"]http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/02/19/MNG8THBH4V1.DTL&popref=http%3A//[/url]
I think this is not responsible journalism. They are pointing out parents that have given other special education parents a bad name...without pointing out the other side...most parents are just trying to get a few extra minutes of reading and math help for their child who is struggling.
Unfortunately much of what she says is true...she is just not telling the whole story.
How this relates to food allergies??? I suppose some of us are requesting expensive accommodations we think are necessary to make our children safe. I think that is entirely different from requesting dolphin or hippo therapy...this is a safety issue. Most things we ask for do not cost additional money to the school, just inconvenience.
Donna
[This message has been edited by notnutty (edited March 24, 2006).]

Pages

Peanut Free Store

More Articles

There are many reasons why you may want to substitute almond flour for wheat flour in recipes. Of course, if you have a...

Are you looking for peanut-free candies as a special treat for a child with...

Do you have a child with peanut allergies and an upcoming birthday? Perhaps you'd like to bake a...

Most nut butters provide all the same benefits: an easy sandwich spread, a great dip for veggies, a fun addition to a smoothie. But not...

Do you have a sweet tooth and more specifically a chocolate craving? Those with peanut allergies must...