Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Louis had his head down when I entered the room Friday. He looked like I felt- defeated .

I knew why I was defeated. Clueless helper was back. And her help made me dizzy first, depressed second and then finally defeated.

Things have not been going well in the category of students with special ed services. Some combination of budget cuts and the inability of administration to make a schedule has resulted in what we call -lack of compliance -lots of lack of compliance and everyone complains to me.

I've been on the horns of a moral dilemma Should I report this obvious denial of services to students in need, or keep playing ball with an ineffective administration- hoping against hope they will eventually get it right. Okay I know what the moral decision is. But I did that once – I reported the abuse of power in another time in another school

And it was HELL. The subsequent school year was categorized by investigations , discipline reports, and threats of loss of employment,

For both the principal and me. And at the end of the year both of us left the school.
I maintain to this day the correctness of my actions, but I could not go through that again.

So I didn't report the principal.
But someone (and I don't know who) did.

Which made the Union come down- to solve these issues.
Which made overwhelmed adminstrator call her support people down.

Which produced Clueless Helper.

Which led to my dizziness, depression and defeat.

Clueless Helper's input:
Only highly qualified teachers should teach special education students in the content area. “With apologies to the Union,” she said, “when special education teachers teach content their students receive 80s and 90s on the report card but only score 20s and 30s on their state exams.” Then she added that she thought she could not teach special education math since she had not majored in math in college. She could however, teach general education students since they may be smart enough to pass the curriculum without a good teacher.

This is what I thought:
Students are granted special education services after a large battery of evaluations that determine their difficulty in assessing the general education with a general education teacher. Then when they cannot meet the arbitrarily determined state standards do we offered any other course of study other than the “rigorous college bound curriculum” everyone is subjected to?
No we have high standards for everyone.
So they fail continuously.
The ability to solve differential equations, adequately understand college level calculus and other advanced mathematics makes one a better instructor for students who cannot accurately sketch the fraction one half. Even is that other person is a learning disability specialist.
Looking at real data is only applicable to situations when it validates Clueless Administrator and her buddies' position. While she could only make conjectures on her ability to get students to pass the Algebra Regents, I have hard data that illustrates that I continuously do.
I thought that for several seconds.

The meeting went on for hours.

And we still didn't have a real schedule.

So that's why I was dejected.

And Louis.

I've been meaning to write about Louis for a long tme.

Five years ago Louis arrived from another country. He didn't speak English.
He didn't know what a fraction was. The ESL teacher put him on a computer ESL computer program. He didn't know how to use a computer.

But he was determined. He was in my room every spare minute. He would stay until six o'clock at night to put together a project. He would take all six hours to finish a exam allotted three hours (He was allowed double time). And he still failed.

After a year he could communicate in English a little better. He took the Regents again. He failed again. He took it over and over again. And failed every time.

I found his tenacity honorable. Most found it pretty annoying. Louis's dedication came off more creepy than endearing. His inability to communicate what he needed paired with his perseverance, made him come off as kind of a stalker. He would follow around the person he thought had what he needed, until they made every effort to avoid him or gave up and helped.
Most avoided him- I ended up helping just a shade less than the amount that would have preserved my sanity.

Louis passed classes. But he continued to fail Regents. He just couldn't remember, process, or write well enough to pass.

But he kept trying.
This year something changed. He kind of got it. He can do more of the academics. He figured out that I am the only one worth the effort of bothering. He leaves everyone else alone. And he figured out he's past the age of the average high school graduate. And he still hasn't passed a Regents exam

A long time ago I learned about BICs and CALPs. A second language learner can master the basic interpersonal communication skills pretty quickly, within a year or two. The Cognitive Academic Language Processing skills take five to seven years to master. Louis is just moving into that time period.

And he got the idea he's in trouble.
He is.

We have high standards. We expect everyone to go to college
We leave no child behind.

Except of course, if you are an annoying English learner with little formal education who happened to arrive in this country less than five years before high school graduation.

And that why Louis is defeated.

I have no pithy summary statement.
It's just sad,

1 comment:

  1. I wish I could add something useful, but my heart just goes out for Louis. I admire his tenacity -- it's beyond tenacity -- and hope and pray that he can overcome the rigidity of DOE.