Monday, March 19, 2012

No Dumping Allowed!

dumpingIn End of an Era from Misadventures with Rangers, Marianne, aka Ranger Anna talks about her son in special education who, even though he is still allowed to attend school according to law, is being pushed out by the school system.  Please take the time to read her post in order to get the whole story.

I feel so sad to hear stories like this. This is what the law was made to avoid. When this law was made, too many special needs students were being dumped out into the real world before they should be. Too many schools do not encourage students to take advantage of this opportunity. Students with true special needs should be encouraged to stay in school for every possible minute they can. There is so much to learn and where an average student might be able to gather all they need for the future in 18 years, these students need every bit of extra time they can get.

Too many times I hear that schools and teachers are being babysitters. I feel if they were truly teaching the right way, they would not be in the babysitting business. Students should be taught according to their individual needs not according to the school curriculum.

According to this parent, the school felt they didn’t have anything to interest the student. Then it is the school’s job to teach something that does interest the student. I find it hard to believe that if thorough investigation was done, that the school and the student couldn’t find something worth learning. In fact, to me, it sounds like the professionals are taking the lazy way out.

If the student has an interest, then the teacher/school needs to find out ways to teach more about this topic. If the student has finished the curriculum offered by the school, then this is the perfect way to teach the student how to learn. The student will gain the skills that could help him learn new things when he no longer can depend on the teacher/school to teach him. What a valuable opportunity for this student! How can anyone not say this is in the best interest of the student?

As a teacher, I was expected to meet standards set by state. I learned early that many of these standards were general enough that I could meet them with most topics that the student was interested in. Reading and math standards fit right into whatever topic the student wanted to learn. Sometimes Social Studies and Science standards were harder but if I was able to give the students a list of 5 possible topics, they were able to find at least one that they were interested in. Sometimes I even told them the standards and asked them to find a topic that would fit with the standards and they would actually come up with one that I hadn’t thought of.

Of course, this was a lot more work for me as the teacher because each lesson was also a learning lesson for me. I found it interesting and exciting to learn along with the students!

If the students were learning about a topic that interested them, they worked harder and there were very few behavior problems. What a joy it was to teach this way! When the students would learn a new skill, it was great to see their faces and see how much fun they were having with learning.

How do you feel about this? Do you think students with special needs should be pushed out of the school system at age 18? If so, why or why not? Please share!

Image: 'Dirt Delivery'


Marianne, aka Ranger Anna said...

Pat, you've got the essence of my concern exactly. We joke around with typically developing kids then they switch majors every year in college, yet kids with special needs are pushed into 'jobs' when they are 18. Who of us really knows at that age where we're going? Yet kids with special needs are going, going, gone.

Thanks so much for sharing this! {{hugs}}

Prudy Jo's Technology SpEd Blog said...

This is a touchy subject. Many schools do not have the funding to keep students. I honestly feel that if a student with special needs can stay until old enough, LET THEM STAY!
I have a second year K student this year. We kept her back one more year because she has multiple disabilities. This will give the parents one more year of help and support. She will be 19 when she finishes her senior year.

Our school does "age out" meaning that even if they do not have enough credits; once they are 19 they are done. I feel it is really sad and something needs to be done with our education system.

The school I went to, let students stay until 21. They still do, I feel that is much more benefited to students who need the support and are not ready to be "dumped" into real life.

Thank you so much for your blog share!

Anonymous said...

I am a special education teacher at a local elementary school. I do interest inventories at the beginning of each school year to find out student interests and use that information in my planning. I also find out how they learn best. This has worked well for me, but I like how you worked with each standard and allowed the students to take part. I also have a child in high school with a learning disability. No, I do not think that being dumped at 18 is appropriate for many special needs students. I am scared for my daughter as she is reaching that point. She is not ready!

Pat Hensley said...

@Anonymous Thank you for leaving a comment. I like the way you do an interest inventory with your students. And no one is saying that these interests can't change each year but at least it is giving you a direction to work towards.