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View Diary: Disabled children excluded from 86% of Florida charter schools (10 comments)

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  •  For money to 'follow the child' the special (4+ / 0-)

    education professionals, support staff, materials and supporting care-giving infrastructure would have to follow as well. This is far more than a simple accounting or resource allocation equation to solve.

    State and federal mandates regulate and subsidize the world of special education and it is something that has been several decades in the making, affected by improvements in understanding of exceptional educational needs, psychology, treatment which is effective in enabling education, and identification and curriculum design processes.  School districts have put a lot of time and money in making physical accommodations over the last several decades, recruiting and developing professional staff and cadres of aides and assistants, and have developed curriculum and care protocols for teachers, therapists, nursing, dietary, social workers, counseling, curriculum design, even for custodial staff, and there is much 'institutional knowledge' that has been accumulated for the public school setting.  

    It's not trivial to begin to transfer/duplicate this sort of service infrastructure in charter or voucher schools, which typically have been given waivers from even fairly basic physical accommodation requirements.  It would likely be a major project, taking years and millions of dollars, for such school facilities to achieve any parity with public schools. Public school districts have been 'big enough' to absorb the extra $5,000 to $20,000 per pupil spent to serve those with EENs (identified Exceptional Education Needs), which of course is something of interest to Wall Street's investment sharks.  Districts being subdivided into offering charter schools under all sort of waivers,  to allow voucher programs, privatizing, outsourcing and de-certifying unions, are being forced to be less professional, less compassionate, and lose the primary mission of being the public's educational resource and instead ends up focused on managing a menagerie of competing 'services', with the added bonus of corrupting for-profit motivations.

    Our children with special needs are human beings deserving of love, care and a compassionate education appropriate to their abilities and needs.  We should not be asking them to wait for more years, to endure less than adequate services, to be subject to neglect or mistreatment, to sacrifice whatever potential they may have while some persists in the demand that we divert resources and experiment with charter and voucher schools.

    When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

    by antirove on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 04:07:04 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  I don't find it necessary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coquiero

      that the specific people at a school follow a child. It's not a given that those people even exist at the home school or home district. LAUSD certainly has people like that. Small (especially rural) districts may not.

      Having the money follow the child, though, allows the destination school to purchase services as appropriate and possible, and without resentment or without taking from kids they already serve. It allows certain schools to end up as specialists for those kids, if that's what the parents want and the kids need. Schools that make that investment should be appropriately reimbursed for it.

      It's not wise or appropriate to put a child into an environment where there are no services to support him or staff with the proper training or physical plant that works. It's probably, in the grand scheme of things, okay that some schools don't have this capacity, as long as a way can be found to serve a special needs child to the best of his ability - and as long as the money to do so isn't being sopped up by those schools that don't.

      The problem is much worse when we have this money divided evenly per pupil and expect whatever school to absorb a $100,000 student for $6,000 a year.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 10:40:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Purchase services? (0+ / 0-)

        How does a child with disabilities "purchase" social skills, lifelong friendships, and future employment opportunities in their home communities if they are shuttled out of their communities to find a school that won't reject them? Your rational of exclusion by disability is precisely why PL 94-142 (now IDEA) was passed in 1975.

        The precursor to this law was Brown v BoEd that said separate is NOT equal. Yet separate is the foundation of your specious argument that special ed services are commodities to be purchased. "Choice" is the edu-privatizers bait-and-switch to keep the expensive kids out of for-profit charters. Period.

        The primary purpose of Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) is to assure equal opportunity and access in public schools in the least restrictive environment (LRE). For 40 years the courts have defined LRE in greater and greater degrees of inclusive language. That means children with disabilities have the right to attend their neighborhood schools with their peers.

        Further, the courts have consistently ruled that it is illegal for ANY public school to deny services to a child with any disability for lack of funds, personnel, special transportation, or any barrier that denies them access to the general curriculum. That means schools that take tax dollars cannot say- "we don't have the facilities or the money or the staff to serve this child". Yet this is the garbage being spewed from the edu-privatizers who deem themselves experts education.

        I hope every corporate money laundering charter is sued by families of children with disabilities for denying them access. Corporate charters are bringing apartheid schools back up from the bowels of the 1940's. They must be challenged.

        SOS. http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org/
        OWS. http://www.adbusters.org/

        •  I was not clear, I suppose (0+ / 0-)

          I fully support the intent of the law. As I see it, having money follow the kids gives them more options. Options to stay in their local public school; options to choose another.

          You're not actually correct that a neighborhood public school can't say "we don't have the facilities or the money or the staff to serve this child." They can. They have to arrange for (and fund) an appropriate education, but that can be done by transporting the child to another school in some cases. Not because it's a warehouse, but because it's a school that has the best available local experts on staff. (We should do the same for profoundly gifted kids.)

          Sometimes arguments over the money make it harder to do what's right for the student. And for that matter, if a small school has a family move in with 10 adopted kids with severe disabilities, that would create an inappropriately severe burden. It's nice to pretend money doesn't matter. But if each of those students costs $100,000 to educate and you've got 10 of them and the total budget of the local district is only a couple million to start with, you can see that this is a problem. Why should it be? Money could go with the kids wherever they move in the US.

          I think we agree more than we disagree. I think there are practical changes we could make that would make the whole process a lot better for the kids and less adversarial overall.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 03:20:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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