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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Don't fool yourself, Duval County doesn't care about disabled kids.

The proposed changes to Florida’s grading system have many and rightfully so, in an uproar. The state continues to do the opposite of what is right and wouldn’t we have more respect for them if they just came out and said. Hey we’re in charge and we’re going to privatize all our schools. This sneaking around making rule changes that only hurt is really undignified. Besides it’s not like everybody doesn’t know what they are trying to do.

Superintendent Pratt-Dannals “doth protest to much” if you ask me. He said recently he was okay with the new FCAT cut scores, which the education commissioner said would cause an additional fifteen thousand kids to fail the FCAT, but after a recent report saying the number of F schools in town would triple suddenly he is against them. He’s is now framing the debate as one that will unfairly harm our disabled students.

This has to be his and the district’s most disingenuous ploy yet.

Where were they two years ago when they started putting kids with severe learning disability and barely functional I.Q.s into regular education classes they had no business being in? Kids with I.Q.s as low as seventy are taking algebra II and chemistry.

Where were they three years ago when they had as many as 17 severely disabled kids in a class at Ed White high school? Special education expert’s think eight trainable mentally handicapped students in a class is too many, Ed White doubled that. W.C. Gentry himself told me it was perfectly legal.

Where were they when they decided special education teachers could teach classes and have I.E.P. caseloads of 30 or higher assuring they could take care of neither adequately. I.E.P.s are now just the tip of the paperwork iceberg that special ed teachers are responsible for.

Where were they when they decided that watered down academic courses was a better way to prepare disabled kids for life instead of teaching them trades of skills? St. Johns gets it; they have a high school dedicated to that but Duval couldn’t be bothered with doing the right thing.

Where were they when money supposed to help disabled kids was siphoned into academic programs for regular education students? Come on friends why else would Paxon high school have had a Severely Emotionally Disturbed unit for all those years?

Where were they when 20-30 varying exceptionality students often in several different grades were placed in the same classroom where one teacher was supposed to teach all the subjects?

Where were they when every time a disabled kid acted up the district called it a manifestation of their disability, ensuring they would receive no consequences for bad behavior?

Who made money off of ULS which forces teachers to teach watered down academics s to profoundly disabled kids who will never understand them and who desperately need life skills instead?

Where have they been, as year after year the exceptional student education department would change the rules over and over again over the course of a year? What was fine the first nine weeks was unacceptable the third. They have also have made it nearly impossible to move kids in and out of special education.

Yes the state law to include severely disabled students in school grades is short sited and wrong but its not like Duval County has had our disabled students best interests at heart for quite some time.

Chris Guerrieri
Special Education Teacher

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