Sunday, February 26, 2012

RTI? Really?

Ok, so I recommend a student for testing from the public school system (I teach in a Catholic school) and they complete the testing (they had to because the parents wrote a letter so by law they are required to do at least this much).  We have a meeting and the test results show that the child has a deficit in working memory and processing speed.  Both of these scores, plus the fact that the child has extreme difficulty in the classroom, coupled with the fact that this child has had these same learning issues since preschool, should indicate to anyone with half a brain, that this child needs special services.  Now mind you, I have already been working with the child in the classroom, have made accomodations for him, work with him before school and the parents work with him at home.  He is still behind and having difficulty learning and achieving at the sixth grade level. 
So back to my original statement.  The child is tested and we meet to discuss eligibility.  The public school system decides that he doesn't qualify because we didn't complete all the RTI interventions they want completed.  It doesn't matter that all the research on working memory shows that the traditional RTI interventions don't work with children with working memory deficits, all they do is delay the services the child does need.  The public school system won't budge.

So the parents and I go back and do more research, all the while still helping this child who struggles in the classroom.  We go back for a second meeting and this is where it gets interesting.  Wait, let me first tell you what transpired in the weeks before this second meeting. 

The psychologist (who, by the way, acted very unprofessional during the initial meeting, leaving the room crying because she felt she was being "attacked,"  we were simply asking questions about the results.)  was supposed to get the results of the testing to the parents within 3 days of the meeting.  She also promised this mother that she would get a whole list of different interventions that we could do with the child to her and me so that we could try a different approach with the child.  Well, days turned into weeks and the mother received nothing.  The psychologist had forgotten to get the eligibility form signed at the meeting so she dropped it by the school and asked me to have the parents sign it and let her know when they did so she could pick it up.  This was 3 days after the meeting.  She could have dropped off the test results and the interventions at this time so I could deliver them to the parents, but she didn't.  Anyway, I let the mom know that I have this paper for her to sign and she decides that she will sign it when she receives the paperwork promised.  Seems fair to me.  So every few days I get an email from the psychologist asking if the paper has been signed.  I just respond no.  I did ask, after about 10 days, if she had the paperwork ready for the parents and she responded, "working on it."  So after 20 days, the mom has had enough.  She sends an email to the psychologist complaining that she has no results, no promised list of interventions, nothing.  She writes her email as a mom who is desperately trying to get help for her child.  The psychologist calls her, angry and yelling so the mom tells her that they are both angry and they won't get anywhere this way so she is going to hang up.  Which she does.  The psychologist calls back!  The mom doesn't answer because she knows this will go nowhere.  So the psychologist calls the husband at work and cries to him (yes, literally cries) that his wife yelled at him, etc. etc. etc.  Now you tell me, what professional does this????  Who pits a husband against a wife???? 

Ok, so now onto the second meeting.  Only the head of the special education services comes to the meeting.  The parents and I have done our research and come prepared to this meeting.  The mom has her information all typed out, with documents marked and attached, to contest the eligibility decision.  She gives us all a copy and the public school man doesn't even look at it.  The mom starts to go through everything step by step and he just nods and smiles.  Adding a few things here and there.  Finally, when the mom is so frustrated that nothing is happening, no discussion, nothing, she pleads, with tears in her eyes, and says to the guy, how would you feel if this were you son or grandson, wouldn't you want help for them.  This man from the public school YELLS  at this poor woman.  Tells her she has crossed the line and how dare she do that and that her email to the psychologist had crossed the line and that the psychologist is trying to have a baby and is having difficulty and how dare she make this personal. 

Are you shocked now???  Of course this is personal, it is about the mother's child.  All she wants is help.  She didn't say anything wrong, she was pleading with this man to give her child the help he needs.  He had no right to act the way he did and neither did the psychologist.  But they turned it around on this mother and left the meeting making her feel defeated, with nowhere to turn.  This is what we deal with every time we try to get help for our kids.  The same kids whose parents pay taxes to the public school system yet don't tax the system by putting their kids in the schools.  Why can't they get the services they need???

I have asked teachers in different public school systems how they feel about this whole RTI policy now mandated by our state and they all respond that they think all it does is delay the services for the children who really need them.  Sure it helps some, but those who need special services just have to run through a maze for a year or longer before they really get the help they need.  Why is this allowed to happen??? 

How do the rest of you feel about RTI?  Do you think it truly benefits the students or is it just a way for the states to save some money but keeping kids out of special ed.????

And anyone out there from a private school, how does your public school system deal with the kids you refer for services??  Can anyone relate to my nightmare?????

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Books! Books! Books!

Ok, I really need to stay out of bookstores and  There are so many books out there that I want to purchase to help me with my students but I can't keep buying them all!!!  And now, with my ipad, it is so easy to just click the kindle edition and poof, I have the book in seconds. 
This morning, I already have found several that I want to purchase and I already purchased 3 books this weekend. 
Add to that, all the fiction books that I want for my classroom and you see that I really need to be winning the lottery!!! 
I purchased In the Middle by Nancie Atwell, a Fontas and Pinnell book called Guiding Readers and Writers and Janet Allen's Tools for Teaching Content Literacy. 
All of this resulted from attending a workshop on Friday!!!  Is there anyone else out there that has this problem???

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Makes You Think

If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the WORLD. If you have money in the bank, your wallet, and some spare change, you are among the top 8% of the worlds WEALTHY. If you woke up this morning with more health than illness you are more BLESSED than the MILLION people who will not survive this week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or torture, or the horrible pangs of starvation you are luckier than 500 MILLION PEOPLE ALIVE AND SUFFERING. If you can READ this message you are more fortunate than 3 BILLION people in the world who cannot read at all.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Are you sick of "highly paid" teachers?

I saw this on the Reading is Thinking blog and followed it over to!  This is amazing.  I hope all those people who think teachers get paid too much really stop and think about all of this.   


Are You Sick Of ‘Highly Paid’ Teachers?

November 13, 2011
By Author Unknown (if you know who wrote it, PLEASE let me know)
Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or10 months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit!
We can get that for less than minimum wage.
That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6 1/2 hours).
Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.
However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.
That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).
What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.
Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here! There sure is!
The average teacher’s salary (nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student–a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!!!!
Make a teacher smile; repost this to show appreciation for all educators.

Off the Grid

Wow, I can't believe I haven't posted for so long.  So much has been going on the past few weeks that although I have had time to catch up on others blogs, I didn't have time to sit down and post anything on mine. 
I have so many things going on right now that I would like to have input on, that I don't even know where to start.
I guess I'll start with the Common Core Standards.  Illinois doesn't seem to be doing much in the area of really helping teachers understand the standards and all the changes involved.  I have had to do much web searching to see what other states are doing to find out more information.  I teach in a private school, so we don't have a team of curriculum specialists that are laying out steps to incorporate the core into what we are doing now.  And most of the people I work with think that just reading the standard will tell them exactly what they need to do and what changes to make.  I am finding that it is just not that simple.  Especially with the ELA standards.  Sometimes I wonder why they have to word things so abstractly and make you look for what it is that should be taught.  We only have 2 years before the testing changes to reflect these standards so if we don't get on board now, our results won't look so good!  I am supposed to be changing from a sixth grade self-contained room to teaching the junior high language arts next year and I have to say that planning for this is a daunting job.  There is so much conflicting information out there that I don't even know where to begin. 

Now, if you add to this the fact that our school is in a very depressed area and is lacking in money, that ups the anty even more.  We have to prove ourselves with standards we don't totally understand, no team of curriculum people to help us, and a population of students that are already challenged.  And no real support from home.  We don't have the technology that so many other schools are touting and no money to obtain it. 

I have to say I get pretty angry when I see things like and they won't let teachers from private schools participate.  Do they think WE don't need things too?  Or that our students don't deserve the same as those in the public schools?  The school I teach in is a Catholic preK -8 in a highly hispanic community with an overcrowded public school system that scores poorly on state testing and has numerous safety issues.  The parents that choose our school do so because we can provide a safer environment for their children and an overall better education.  They sacrifice immensely to send their children here.  Many are on reduced tuition or scholarships and free lunch.  We have children with learning disabilities yet the public school system only shares a pittance of its massive special education money with us.  They share only what the state says they absolutely have to share.  To service all the students with special needs in our building, they only give us $3000 a year.  That is total, not per child!  The parents still pay taxes to support the public school system, so why shouldn't they have access to the funds that are allocated for their child????  I don't know if a voucher system is the way to go, but something needs to change.  It isn't fair for the students in our building to receive less just because they are not in the public school system.  Who, as a parent, wouldn't choose a safer environment for their child?  But they are now punished by the govt. because of it???  And why is it that Catholic schools consistently score higher on all standardized tests then the public schools yet we educate with far fewer dollars.  And don't say it's because we don't have all the special ed kids that the public school has.  Percentage wise I could assure you it is comparable.   So why is it that we don't have access to the same things as the public school system?  All of our teachers hold the same certifications that are required in the public school system and are required to accumulate the same hours of professional growth, so what is the big deal?  We are accredited by the state, have to pass the same tests and regulations and follow the same rules, the only difference between us and the public school system is we teach religion and talk about God.  So don't give us any money for that.  But to not realize that our students deserve the same as those who choose public education is a crime.  We are not allowed to even apply for certain grants because we are a private school.  That is ridiculous.  I can already hear people out there saying, "well, the parents choose that so they just have to deal with the fact that they won't have access to the same things" or "you choose to teach in a private school so deal with it."  That is a bunch of horse manure!  ALL children deserve the same opportunities no matter where you send them to school.  If a public school system isn't meeting the needs of its community, then why shouldn't a parent be able to send their child to a private school that is doing a better job AND be afforded the same opportunities there that their tax dollars pay for in the public schools????  

I guess this is a pretty long post so I should save some of my other topics for another time.  If there is anyone out there reading this, maybe you have some ideas you'd like to share.