I recently ran across an article on Education Week entitled, Have We Got Special Education All Wrong?
It called for putting even more money into schools while we do nothing to address what’s really happening to kids.
The blame game
Education expert Marc Tucker thinks he’s figured out why the U.S. has such a high percentage of children who are in special education compared to other developed countries.
It has to be SOMETHING SCHOOLS ARE DOING WRONG. According to Tucker, special ed should only be for the kids with a specific mental or physical disability. The child whose behavior gets them consigned to sped shouldn’t be there.
TUCKER’S SOLUTION: More $$ for support services, better teacher/student ratio, more $$ for schools with minority students, more work with social services, more time on students who need extra help, and better monitoring of students.
Those things might help if children didn’t have to live in the 21st century. Our schools are filled with disabled kids who weren’t here 25 years ago. Look at the accommodations on IEPs for kids just in regular ed. I’ve had students who are allowed to pace in the back of the classroom or walk out and sit in the hall if they feel overwhelmed. Large numbers of students couldn’t function in school if they weren’t medicated. We modify tests and assignments for kids who can’t deal with regular work. And that’s just what’s happening in the mainstream classroom.
More money for services and monitoring for the child with out-of-control behavior without asking why so many children today do things that makes them a danger to themselves and to others is pointless. In Tucker’s world the only problem is how we’re dealing with these kids; there is really nothing wrong with the children themselves.
Sorry, but he’s wrong, and things will be getting worse.
Tucker cites a national average for sped of 13 percent, and he wants to get it down to levels of some European countries. He needs to look around because I’m finding lots of places where things are far worse. (It’s hard to believe that these numbers would be dramatically different if we just spent more on vulnerable kids with behavior issues.)
Hazelton, PA: 15 percent of children are sped.
Sioux Falls, SD: 15 percent of children are sped.
Baltimore, MD: 15 percent of children are sped.
Spokane, WA: 15 percent of children are sped.
Oakland, ME: 16.6 percent of children are sped.
Hackensack, NJ: 18 percent of children are sped.
Falmouth, MA: 19 percent of children are sped.
Brooklyn, NY: 19 percent of children are sped.
Reading, PA: 19 percent of children are sped.
Dayton, OH: 20 percent of children are sped.
New Haven, CT: 20 percent of children are sped.
Rochester, NY: 20 percent of children are sped.
Glen Falls, NY: 21 percent of children are sped.
Ellsworth, ME: 22 percent of children are sped.
Waterville, ME: 23 percent of children are sped.
Fitchburg, MA: 23.5 percent of children are sped.
Staten Island, NY: 24 percent of children are sped.
Woodland Hills, PA: 25 percent of children are sped.
We keep looking for ways to explain what’s happening to our children, while we pretend nothing has changed. I’ve heard lots of teachers say things like, “they come with so many issues from home,” “they used to be kept at home,” and “they used to be in institutions.”
The truth is, kids today live in a chemical soup. Toxins are everywhere. They breathe toxins, eat toxins, and have toxins injected into their bodies. It’s amazing they’re doing as well as they are.
When you look at the number of chronically sick kids that fill our schools, is it such a stretch to realize that their developmental health (social and behavioral) has been equally impaired?
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.