Who Decides the Appropriate Education for a Child?
To protect the identity of her student, this teacher chooses to remain anonymous.
I am yet another teacher who is leaving the field of education due to the draconian measures being taken in order to "improve" education. I teach very unique children with multiple and low prevalence disabilities. It is absolutley heart breaking to watch a girl with an extremely rare syndrome, of which there are only about 100 known cases in the world, struggle to take the FCAT.
She is deaf and was fitted with hearing aids 2 years ago so has developed the language of a three year old. She has an incomplete larynx so can literally make no sound (of course, I have been instructed to use a phonetic approach to teach her to read.) The knowledge that I possess, a BA in Physical Disabilities and Mental Handicaps and an MA in Varying Exceptionalities and an additional BA in Communicative Disorders, in addition to working closely with the family and multiple other professional (the Speech Language therapist, the Occupational therapist, the Physical therapist and the Hearing therapist) is apparently indequate for me to make professional decisions regarding this child's education. Instead, it is now the reading coach, the principal (and the federal government's) decision, who have in fact never had any contact whatsoever with this child and absolutely no experience or education in teaching children with physical or sensory impairments. The student's mother has been informed that she no longer has the authority to decide whether or not her child will take the FCAT and in fact the child will be retained when she can not pass the FCAT.
In effect, the child is being penalized for that which is beyond her control, her disability. The "No Child Left Behind" law is in direct conflict with IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) which guarantees a free and appropriate education to children wtih disabilities. I truly despair for these children but I simply can no longer allow myself to be part of a system that exploits the helpless for political gain. Good luck with your continuing campaign for educational reform.
Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform
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