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Sometimes I feel special ed is failing the kids

EveryoneLies's picture

This week I learned from SS that the special ed kids at school get to do a "prepare exam" that carry some exact questions as the "real exam." Given my SS is never the best person to communicate, I'm hoping this is untrue. I lose count on how many days we have to argue with him that -10 and 10 are not the same, and "I just forgot the negative sign" won't make it right. 

Today we got the teacher's email saying SS is not eligible to extended school year (summer class) and that he is ready to be in mainstream math and English classes.

I guess we are supposed to be happy and proud except we are not. (Yes my DH is more frustrated than me) 

Over the whole SIP the school teachers gave SS exactly 15 minutes of math, 10 mins science activity and approximately 1 hour of English work for all alleged school days. DH and I both work full time so that means the rest of his day is up to us to fill. (And we did) The teachers did not give feedback on the work he turned in, nor do they care whether he actually turn stuff in. I get that teachers have kids and lives too but---based on what could they evaluate SS is competent in those areas? (We gave him extra math practice, he's now 7th grade but still struggle at 5th grade. And now he's going to mainstream 8th grade level...?

I'm frustrated and upset because we spent avg 2hr on his hw daily and now we are just told that he will not have any school during summer so more time for us to fill..

so not looking forward to the summer..


notarelative's picture

Extended school year is usually in the IEP (at least here). Check the latest IEP. If it's in there, it should be provided. However, if they are not having actual summer school, and depending if the state ed department relaxed the rules due to COVID, there may be no summer school for him.

If his latest IEP does not have extended school year, it usually does not have to be provided.

I'd try setting up a virtual conference with whoever is the person that sets up the IEP conferences. Explain your concerns about his levels and concern over summer slide. (Don't mention having to fill time. That won't help.) You may not get exactly what you want, but until you try, you don't know what is possible.

EveryoneLies's picture

DH is going to send the email to the teacher. I don't have the legal right to question these decisions, nor do I want those rights anyway.

Although my frustration comes from the days to be filled and how hard it is to work with him over his hw, my real concern is that if he can't catch up, he is going to just lose interest and not even going to try. (So no, we are not going to mention it's hard for us to fill up SS' day with a better schedule)

As far as I know the ESY is not canceled, although it will not be onsite (makes sense). 

We are really almost running out of material to get SS' day meaningful. Neither of us can spend work time to "teach" classes like the teachers. It is beyond streessful.

notarelative's picture

DH should check the IEP. If extended year is there, something should be provided (unless the state relaxed the regulations).

If it's not there, it will be very hard to get it added. DH can try, but... DH can ask the teacher for suggestions. There may be appropriate district paid sites that SS can be set up on. Or not. But, the teacher may have useful suggestions for DH.

Chmmy's picture

I get it  that teachers have lives but they are getting paid so do something. Our district habded our a packet and said see ya next year. Thise teachers got off pretty easy

EveryoneLies's picture

I feel the same. 
I understand the student attendance is poor because the pandemic, but I'm upset because we simply do not hear from the teachers.

after this I will have a hard time supporting teachers salary being raised, which is a cause I used to support..

Harry's picture

Your DH is the parent he is supposed to teach his kid.  Not let everything fall on the school.  If you want summer child care,  you must send him someplace for that.  Not used the school. 
have you text or email the teachers, ?  Or they are suppose to do all the work ? 

EveryoneLies's picture

I think you misunderstood my post. My SS is in special ed, and he's not at grade level yet. We were just told he is going to be put in mainstream when he's really not ready. He's always had ESY because he forgets what he has learned all the time. So why do you think we just want the school to be our babysitter ? We simply want to let the school know he really is not ready.

And my post wasn't complaining about DH not parenting his son. We both do (the parenting) and we prepared his study materials for him for the past three months. We also both have mentally taxing jobs so preparing school work and checking his hw is just making us both super exhausted.

His teacher is telling us she's not seeing him being aggressive (sure thing because she has not seen him for three months) so he doesn't need it. That is just simply not true. His teachers have not even tried to get new materials for him in the past three you also feel it's not the teachers job to get the students materials to study before school year ends? If we are not responsible parents we wouldn't try so hard to get him the extra practice, don't you think?

if I sound angry, it is because I am. But back to the topic, we are going to see whether we can get a video conference with the teacher to discuss this situation. If a student is entitled to extra support, he should get it.

Disneyfan's picture

What platform is your school using for remote learning?  We are using GOOGLE CLASSROOM.  If your school is using this or something similar,  then everything you need is posted there.  

What materials are you expecting the teacher to provide?  If she isn't the building, she can't create learning packets for the students.

EveryoneLies's picture

The school use google classroom. I was upset at SS' teachers because the materials are often "not new" or "too short." I wasn't exaggerating when I said he complete those in a matter of 15 minutes. It is not because he is a savant of any kind, it was really because that's all it takes. They also have other online platforms where the student can practice math and reading, the teachers have not been putting in new materials and he's now just circling back to the old ones. I know this because he wrote the exact same reading summary..because there was nothing new from the school anymore. We now have home read and summarize magazine articles just so that he's not writing the same thing again. In their history class they have been asked to read the same 10 pages for the past three weeks. I wish I am exaggerating but these are all true. We pay for IXL now just so that he can still have something to learn, and this is after we looked up for new material or packets everyday and really can't get much.

the teachers can add new chapters and practices on platform like MobyMax, which also target individual student's levels. My problem with her was that she's not even doing this much.

My daughter is in third grade, and her teacher really put in effort in providing as much teaching as she could (videos where she read to the class, new math work sheet everyday with detailed instructions..etc. when a teacher put in effort we know and we appreciate)

Trying to Stepmom's picture

As a teacher, we were told not to provide new content. Meaning we basically spent this remote learning time to review. 

I can't speak for every teacher because every school is different. And believe me, this was no "vacation" as some people like to say. 

EveryoneLies's picture

I think the union and our school district is negotiating how much teachers are allowed to do during the pandemic. It's sad because the kids end up losing the chance to learn. I am in no way criticizing every teacher. 

beebeel's picture

Not every single student with an IEP is eligible for the same services. Here, they reserve summer school for the students struggling the most. Unless your SS is severely disabled (and it doesn't sound like it) he won't be eligible for extended summer school. Lots and lots of kids struggle and need parents to be more active in their educations. I would leave the summer education planning to dad.

EveryoneLies's picture

I was quite upset last night, but feeling better now after a good night of sleep. Still I think it would help if we Do not assume that my husband and I are just trying to take advantage of the system, shall we? I am all for the ones that need support the most to get them and not to get in the way of those in need the most.

Sure, we are lucky that SS is high functioning and not non verbal, do you really consider someone at 7th grade but still can't understand 5th grade level materials not struggling? That is just math, he also struggle at writing.

We spent thousands to get him therapy last year, and are trying again. DH spent hours on working with Ss on his hw on daily basis. (I help too, but I leave most to the dad) I don't think it is fair to say we are not active in parenting. My SS' academic struggle is NOT due to lack of parenting.

beebeel's picture

I never said it was lack of parenting. Being a few years behind in math is common. It just requires more effort on the parents' part. 

Have you asked his teachers for more resources?

Disneyfan's picture

A teacher can not make a unilateral decision about placement.  She can make a RECOMMENDATION, but the final decision will be made by the team. 

This should have come up during your SS's last IEP meeting.  Each person sitting in on that meeting( teacher, SP coordinator,  school psychologist, service providers AND parents) all should have been asked what they thought his placement should be.   

What type of setting is he currently in?  If he is in a special ed class(12:1 or 6:1), then moving him to a general education class next year is ridiculous.  If he is in an ICT class(2 teachers -one gen ed, one special ed, both gen ed and students with IEPs),then moving him to general ed next year would be an option IF the parents agree and supports/ modifications are fully outlined in his new IEP.

Remote learning does not erase the requirements for annual IEP reviews.  Our last day in our buildings was March 13 (NYC).  I have had to completely 3 IEPs remotely.  Prior to each meeting, the service providers(speech, SETTs,OT, PT...)and teacher has to complete a student data sheet documents and supports any recommendations we make for further services and placements for the following year.

Your husband should take a look at the IEP and see if it says SS receives year-round services or just 10 months.

EveryoneLies's picture

You are completely right, and what we are asking for is the recommendation. SS is in special ed (12:1) class. He has tried some gen ed for a few sessions last semester but was pulled back because of behavioral issues (he was overwhelmed by the grade level material- the teacher told us). He will still be in special ed next year but the teacher is recommending him to be in 8th grade gen ed math and English. Although I think he can probably handle the English class (he likes to read), I don't believe he can catch up the math. I don't really know where he's at for other subjects.

We were told the IEP meetings will be held remotely (no problem with this at all) but nothing has been scheduled yet. DH is definitely going to review the last IEP to see exactly what was written.

tog redux's picture

You can always get an advocate or an attorney if the school refuses to hear your concerns.  Doesn't seem reasonable to me to try to move him back into regular education after he's been out of school for a pandemic for 4 months, even if he WAS doing well prior to the shift to remote learning.

EveryoneLies's picture

Agreed..I hope we won't have to go that far (to get an attorney). 
SS had a great special ed teacher when he was in 6th grade. Perhaps we were spoiled but I just don't feel his current teachers care much. (Before schools were closed they let him rush through his class work and just read comic books in the class. That simply would not happen with his 6th grade teacher)

SteppedOut's picture

My brother and I were not in special ed (back then few kids were...right or wrong that's just how it was - for reference I am in my early 40s).

Anyway... my dad used to spend 1.5-2 hours per night assisting us with homework and studying, on average. During summer he would create worksheets for math and spelling (this was before computers/printers were readily availabe - so "by hand") and have us read and give simple oral reports on the books (to make sure we read AND comprehended). It is well known during breaks kids -most kids- backslide a bit. He did this to help prevent that (we still had plenty of free play time). 

All that said to point out, I think that spending time teaching your children should be an expected part of parenting, it does not (or should not) all fall solely on the school/teachers. 

tog redux's picture

She says in her post that they spent 2 hours on his homework and gave him extra work to do.

Many districts in my area are doing a truly lousy job with remote learning. The special ed kids will especially fall through the cracks.

SteppedOut's picture

Yes, she did say that they worked with him. And it sounds like she is upset having to do that. I'm simply pointing out that even without a pandemic and remote learning, my dad did that (and we were not special ed). I know others that do the same... my dad was not extrodinary for this. 

And yes, some districts are not doing the best job at remote learning. Some of it is due to lazy teachers. Some of it is due to districts not having great resources. Some due to parents not making kids do the work (or not even having internet... there is at least one poster saying bm doesn't have internet). I think we can all agree remote learning had to be rolled out pretty fast. I think it is to be (or should be) expected parents would have to help a bit more (than they already should be). 


tog redux's picture

I do agree, remote learning was rolled out fast, and that many kids are not being pushed by parents to do their schoolwork. And teachers probably had little experience with remote learning.

But a lot of parents are also working 8 hour days remotely (or at work) and then are expected to teach their kids as well. I personally have had to let people I supervise know that while I understand their plight as parents trying to teach their kids right now, my boss is saying that if they get paid for 8 hours, they have to work for 8 hours.

Honestly - the whole "parents should be teaching at home" is a bit of school district cop-out, IMO. Parents aren't teachers. They don't know how to help kids with learning issues learn. Of course they should try to ensure they do their homework,  but even in that case, it's really on the kids to do that by a certain age.  Most parents can't even do Common Core math, or any kind of higher math.

It's the parent's job to make sure the kids are rested, fed, learn good behavior, show up every day and do their homework (when possible - for some parents it's a battle for hours to get kids to do homework and disrupts their whole household).

My friend's son is 17 and a straight A student -  it's been years since she had to monitor his homework. But it took weeks for this highly rated suburban district to let her know he was getting way behind in his work. She couldn't teach him anything that he's learning if she wanted to, nor is it her job to do so.

Disneyfan's picture

I have several parents using the I can't teach that line as an excuse.

I am not asking them to TEACH anything.   I'm asking to have their kids watch the videos that I post of me or another 2nd grade teacher teaching the lesson.  Or you and your child watch the YouTube video that I post of another teacher teaching that concept.   Or I am asking you to make sure your child signs joins the GOOGLE MEETS class that I set up to work with him/her one on one.  

I understand that the parents may not know what the ARROW WAY or CHIP MODEL are and how to use them to solve math problems.  But they know how to press play on a video.  

I do not expect my parents to teach,  but I do expect them to support and monitor their children's learning.

This isn't easy for any of us.  We are all learning what works and what doesn't.   I am trying my best to make it to our last instructional day which is June 19.  Our last day of school is June 26.  I plan to use the summer to research and plan how best to implement remote learning in the fall.  

EveryoneLies's picture

I think you are absolutely an awesome teacher and those parent are lucky to have you as their kids' teacher. We are not one of those who use "we can't teach" as an excuse. My SS' teachers did not bother to put on enough materials everyday. We made sure he checks his school email multiple times a day but he rarely gets communications from his teachers.

in our case I feel we definitely did our part when the teachers were falling short. It's hard to defend for a teacher when we simply don't hear from him/her.

SteppedOut's picture

Does your friend's kid's school not have an online portal? My older son's school had one (he graduated high school several years ago). I choose to check his grades/attendance weekly, but there was an option to be notified (via email) of certain things (for example: tardies, absence, grade below "x" or missing work). I believe most schools have that now. Perhaps you should suggest that to your friend, if she feels she shouldn't have to monitor frequently.

I know there are a lot of people that think as you do, teaching is all on the school - I was just offering my opinion, which is different, but not wrong because yours differs. 

Personally, if I had a child with special needs I would learn how to teach them more effectively. 

tog redux's picture

Yes, they have a portal and yes, she checks it, of course she does -  except it wasn't being used during this pandemic.

It's absolutely just an opinion.  We had a neighborhood kid whose parents made her write book reports over the summer, we all felt so sorry for her. And she didn't do any better in life than I did, with parents who expected me to go to school and be responsible for my own work.

I get that schools are frustrated by kids being tired, not fed, not attending, or parents not making sure they do school work during this pandemic, as DisneyFan said - but expecting them to teach the kids is unrealistic and unfair, IMO. That's wonderful for you that you'd learn to teach your kid, fine - but it shouldn't be expected.

SteppedOut's picture

We also were held responsible for our work. I guess my dad enjoyed helping us and we liked it too. Oftentimes he could get us to understand some of the math concepts better than some of our teachers. Maybe he was able to relate to us better or perhaps the more dedicated 1 on 1 worked. 

You shouldn't have felt bad for your neighborhood peer - reading and discussing the books with our dad was good quality time - dinner conversation or something to talk about on the way into town (we lived so far out in the country!). Most importantly, it fostered a love for reading.

Learning and teaching can, and should be fun! I have very fond memories from it. It shouldn't be looked at as a "chore" or something the teacher should be exclusively doing. 


EveryoneLies's picture

I think your dad is a great father, and I totally agree teaching is not solely the school's job. I was a teacher for a very brief period of time (not in this country), and I understand how frustrating it is when parents rely only on the teachers.

My complains with SS' teachers were that they didn't really set expectations for the kids. Just because they are in special ed should not mean they have no future and should not be challenged.

And yes, I was frustrated that we had to find so many materials to make sure he's learning when we have to work 8 hours a day. That does not mean we expect only  the teachers to help him with his homework. We have been helping and checking his homework before the school closure, and we don't plan to stop that. 
Not all teachers are good teachers. My daughter's teacher is just simply great and I have no complains but appreciations towards her. My SS, who is in need more, however is not as lucky.

SteppedOut's picture

Some teachers do suck. I've had my share; I'm sure we all have. If that is the case, 1000% fight the district. My dad did the same for me on one occasion that I had a particularly bitter, should have retired long ago jerk of a teacher. (And it was awesome, lol).

High functioning special ed kids absolutely can and should have an academic future. It sounds like your ss can have a fully funtioning future, just with a bit of extra help getting there. Your dh should make sure that happens, both from the school and at home. 

strugglingSM's picture

Do you know how many hours of education other students are receiving in your district? If you can figure out the proportion of education that all students are receiving, you can then use that proportion against the minutes in the IEP to determine if your SS was receiving the required proportion of minutes during remote learning. If he received less than his required proportion of his minutes then you can request "compensatory services" over the summer. These are required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal law that governs IEPs.

EveryoneLies's picture

I don't know how we can find out about other kids. But I hope all these can be resolved once we have a chance to talk to his home class teacher.

Although I think because of the pandemic it will be hard to measure. From SS it also sounds like the student attendance was poor. That part I do understand there's not much the teacher can do.

strugglingSM's picture

Look for guidance or plans provided on your district's website. Also look for state guidance. In our state, the state education agency put out expected number of educational minutes for each grade level for each day throughout "remote learning".

tog redux's picture

You'd think they might have more time for him then, if the other students aren't showing up.