Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Links to Make You Think

An analysis of special education issues in New Jersey. I know, it's not Michigan, but what I found especially interesting is just how variable the percentage of students diagnosed with special eduction needs is, state to state. Why?

From National Public Radio's On Point, a discussion of the ramifications of laying off so many teachers nationwide.

Tonight, while watching the Tigers game on the television, I saw an ad for Cornerstone Schools. I was curious, so I checked it out. Cornerstone Schools is a private school with a Christ-centered mission (their words, not mine) in Detroit. That's all well and good, but they have spun off two charter schools. Read this article, and you--like me--will likely worry about the division between church and state in charter schools. I don't really get it, and I don't really believe there's much separation going on here.

I generally like Kym Worthy, but jail time for missing parent-teacher conferences? Come on! Don't we have enough people in jail as it is? Let's start with offering more opportunities for parent-teacher conferences, okay?

And, as usual, Sharon Parks of the Michigan League for Human Services has a stellar blog post--in part about foster care--focused on the state budget. Is state government unraveling?


  1. Poor pre and post natal care and nutrition, lead poisoning, drug and alchohol abuse during pregnancy, premature birth, emotional trauma caused by witnessing violence, physical or emotional abuse all can lead to learning and/or cognitive disabilities, adhd, and emotional impairments that could cause a student to require special education services. The more frequently these factors occur in a community, the more children there will be there that have learning or behavioral problems. So, it makes sense that there would be demographic clusters which could cause uneven racial distribution. Similarly, we see clusters of diseases like MS and cancer where there are environmental factors that are causing it.

  2. That is definitely true, Anon. The question is, is that the primary contributing factor? States do line up in certain ways in terms of poverty, urban/rural %, environmental threats, etc. Do they line up the same way when it comes to special education diagnoses, or are these diagnoses being applied differentially in different locations? I'm guessing that it is a combination of things--but I don't know.

  3. I think it's what we used to say at work, empire building, you know when something begets more of something. If you can get funding, and you can hire more people and you get to "run an empire" Doing something separately is better than doing something with a whole group. Separating out special ed and funding that makes for empire building, what's happening in New Jersey, which has high taxes, and is Democratic at heart. It's kind of amazing that NJ has those numbers.
    Here in Michigan, special ed suffers from(not so) benign neglect. Almost every LEA in the state falls below the 80% target graduation rate of special ed, and nothing much happens because of it.AAPS graduation rate of special ed is 69%, so if a kid has an IEP, that kid has a 2/3 chance being a drop out in this district. Failure is a viable option, because it's cheaper, I believe and it's the easiest thing to do, and this was all set in motion back when Michigan had money, and now it's just scary to contemplate what is going to happen to these kids.
    I read the AAChronical piece where there was a discussion about reducing ESL staff, and there was talk about how some kids would get behind, and one administrator suggested that they could just modify the curriculum(ask less) to reduce the need for support. From a top administrator in AAPS, no less.
    That is so telling, and really that's demonstrates clearly the way the school's slides down the slippery slope of poor to no delivery of service in their efforts to evade their responsibilities towards special ed students.
    The less you ask the kids to do, the less work it is for staff.

  4. Correction, 69% graduation rate of special ed leads to a near third of kids who are IEPed to be high school drop outs.