kitchen table math, the sequel: due process for parents of general education kids

Thursday, May 21, 2009

due process for parents of general education kids

from Barry G:
As people think about lobbying their Congressman/Senator, it might be good to have some outlines in hand for legislation that offers parents due process for general education. One thing that SPED [special ed] laws allow is, for example, testing. If a parent requests their child be tested to determine possible LD or other problems and to determine the need for an IEP, the school must comply. If they do not, the parent has the right to have the child tested by a firm of their choosing, and if the results show the child has problems, the school then has to reimburse the parents for the cost of the testing. And in fact, upon initial request, the school has 60 days to make a determination of whether the child qualifies for an IEP.

We need laws that allow parents to be recognized. Parents should have the right to have their child tested in math, English etc using say ITBS. If the results show the child is doing poorly, the parents can be reimbursed for the cost of testing and also reimbursed for tutoring, or using Sylvan, etc. Rough idea, I know, but you get the gist. Any thoughts?

SPED: special education
LD: learning disabilities
IEP: Individualized Education Plan (for SPED kids only)
ITBS: Iowa Test of Basic Skills [parents of general education kids can order the test & give it to their children themselves, which I did one year - around $40 - ask me if you want details:]


concernedCTparent said...

I would fight for that. As it stands, parents have no way of knowing how their child is doing based on objective measures. In CT, our state tests (CMTs) are aligned with publishers like Everyday Math and Harcourt L&A material. I've described it before as an incestous relationship.

What is currently going on during school hours has little if anything to do with what many parents think their children should be learning in school. Having an impartial, no-nonsense, screening like the ITBS that measures basic, grade-appropriate skills will clearly illustrate whether a child is showing year-to-year growth as compared to other children across the nation. No more watered-down, manipulated, and useless state-driven data to muddy the waters.

Having the option to review ITBS results would reveal that the emperor is naked. Allocating tax payer dollars to Sylvan or Kumon or Huntington Learning Centers (or what have you) to fill the gaps is the least that could be done to try to turn this sinking ship around. Children can't wait for the education establishment to fix itself; parents must have have a voice and unfettered access to mechanisms that can make immediate and positive changes for their children right now.

Barry, I think it's brilliant!

Barry Garelick said...

OK, now I've done it. When Catherine asked me if she could post this, I thought it was to a list serve, not the whole world. But the deed is done, so let me point one thing out. The law that provides due process for special ed (I think it's called IDEA)gives parents rights. There is no counterpart for parents of general education students. The tool of due process gets results. Without it, you're "just parents".

Anonymous said...

I have dreamed, over and over again, that general ed kids could have at least some of the features of an IEP. Not to the same extent, of course, but SOME level of recognition and accomodation of their individual needs including the need for remediation and the need for acceleration.

Public schools (any schools, really) are designed to deliver a standardized product, to groups rather than individuals, and I'm OK with that. It's just that there are times when the standardized product doesn't work and needs to be modified.

Cheryl said...

Parents of gen ed students should have rights. However, far too many students/parents feel that learning should be handed to them on a silver platter--without them having to do any actual work to obtain it.

So now taxpayers should pay for tutors for children who refuse to pay attention or do any work in class? Because for the most part, the children in my class who actually TRY are doing just fine, with the exception of the Spec. Ed. kids who ARE getting extra help.

Barry Garelick said...

It's just that there are times when the standardized product doesn't work and needs to be modified.Yes, particularly when the "standardized product" is something like Everyday Math or Investigations that gets railroaded in by a school board that ignores anything anyone has to say that disrupts their pre-decided decision.

Barry Garelick said...

However, far too many students/parents feel that learning should be handed to them on a silver platter--without them having to do any actual work to obtain it.I don't doubt there are such students and parents. But there are also students who need to be given specific instruction and not play the "discovery" and "read my mind" games that teachers place their students in with ill conceived programs. Parents are shelling out money for their kids because of such programs. Why should they when their taxes are supposedly paying for an education for their kids? It's an additional tax don't you think? So it all depends how you look at it, I guess.

concernedCTparent said...

"Parents are shelling out money for their kids because of such programs."

This is the problem. I live in a high SES town where the parents volunteer in the classroom, help with homework, read to their kids each night, make sure their kids get to school on time, and purchase a copy of the Everyday Math reference book to keep at home and help with homework.

Many of these same parents still shell out $80/hour (cash) to the teachers to tutor their child on the side; or they send their child to Kumon, Huntington, or Sylvan because their child just isn't getting EM. These parents are convinced there's something wrong with their child even though their child is trying to pay attention in class and diligently doing all the work.

In these cases (which I know of many), there should definitely be an option to support the child because they all don't have access to a teacher like Cheryl or to Singapore Math, for example. They get the teacher they get (who may have little if any interest of content knowledge when it comes to mathematics) and are subjected to ill-conceived curricula such as Everyday Math. Who lobbies for these children?

In these cases I would rather see taxpayer money go to effective tutoring than to pay for teacher in-service or a math coach who lacks advanced math content knowledge and is merely a cheerleader for the math curricula d'jour.

I guess it does depend on how you look at it.

Cheryl said...

"But there are also students who need to be given specific instruction and not play the 'discovery' and 'read my mind' games that teachers place their students in with ill conceived programs."

More often than not, these ill-conceived programs are pushed down teachers' throats by educrats and bureaucrats, then we have to try to make them work despite our own objections.

Thank God, my administrators have more sense than to even LOOK at Everyday Math. Which may be part of the reason my kids do well if they participate in their own learning.

SteveH said...

Cheryl indicates why any sort of recourse is probably impossible. You can't tell the difference between the factors. One could make a case that the attitude of older students can be traced to bad curricula or bad teaching in earlier years, but that would be a tough one to prove even for a single case.

The only real recourse is school choice.

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concerned said...

Googling "NCLB Parent Involvement" gives some very useful information.

Have a great weekend!

Catherine Johnson said...

pre-decided decisionheh

Catherine Johnson said...

I've got to finally get something posted about Adlai Stevenson High School.

They put in tutoring for all students who weren't learning & made it work.

If a school is working well, you shouldn't need much tutoring.

Speaking of schools that work well, I wonder how much tutoring goes on at Hogwarts?

I've never met a parent who was teaching content or hiring tutors (I'm sure there must be some, but I haven't met any). Catholic schools often have a peer tutoring system, which is what Hogwarts has.

A student who is having trouble in a course is assigned a peer tutor, who is, I believe, a junior or senior in the school & a member of the Honor Society (something like that). They're given a time and a place; the peer tutoring isn't up to the students to figure out; it's overseen by adults.

The peer tutors get service hour credit for their work.

I think one of C's friends may have a peer tutor; I'll have to ask him how it's gone.

This friend, btw, is very ADHD; in a public school he'd probably be classified on a 504 at least. (My guess.)