(This is the rant, continued.)
So what else is 610 going to do?
I’m so glad you asked. Bill 610 will repeal the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Let’s break it down a bit further. This Act is the main K-12 law. (For those of you who don’t know, this means kindergarten through twelfth grade. This law affects students from the ages of five to eighteen.)
The latest version of this Act is called Every Student Succeeds. If this law is repealed, equal opportunity protections for students would go away. This would largely affect Special Education students.
How would this madness happen? Well, under the current law, any school that receives federal funding, which is every public school in the United States, must have resources available for Special Needs students. This includes Individual Education Plans. This means that every student who has a disability as designated by their school would be affected by the removal of this law.
For the uninitiated, disabilities range from the obvious, like a wheel-chair bound student, to a high functioning student with Asperger’s Syndrome. There are also 504 designations which covers just about everything else in the alphabet soup of diagnoses. With out this funding the programs in place could suffer by losing qualified staff to dissolving completely.
In my school of 81 students we have two students who are directly being served as a result of Special Education funding. One of them, let’s call him Marcus, has Tourette’s Syndrome. He also has several cognitive and developmental delays. This means in addition to being a squirrelly 12 year old, because all 12 year olds are squirrelly, he also has the Tourette’s ticks and motor control issues. He also is on the academic level of a third grader. His under-education is a direct result of of the mishandling of his case at his previous schools, meaning he was lost in the crowd and was too difficult to handle in a classroom of thirty-five students. So instead of educating him, his previous schools isolated him.
Now that he is in smaller school, his disabilities were easy to spot and deal with. Fortunately many of our students are kind and welcome him into their large group activities. Marcus has a teacher whose sole job is to work with him as a result he has mastered the sight words of a grade level very close to where the rest of his classmates . He can already out perform many of them in basic math.
I mentioned Carl in an earlier blog. We are awaiting a specific diagnosis for him, but for the time being he is also working with our Special Ed teacher. Carl is on grade level, slightly above it actually, but emotionally he has regressed to a five year old. When he gets overwhelmed he gets violent. (I can totally understand this; there are days when I want to get violent with some of my students.)
With out Special Education funding, both of these students would be isolated, possibly institutionalized. Neither of these students’ families can afford private education. Bill 610 would effectively doom these children to a life behind grey walls where they would be managed by indifferent under trained staff.
It is a head shaker, especially when you consider how many kids will be damaged by this.
Damaged kids become damaged adults. I don’t want to know what will happen after that.