Saturday, July 22, 2006

How NYC is Failing it Special Ed Students

Edweek’s blog led me to this three-part WNYC radio story, “How NYC is Failing Its Special Education Students.” I highly recommend listening to the whole series. It originally aired in June.

Below is one of the WNYC graphs depicting how New York City’s high school administrators dole out disproportionate numbers of IEP (Individualized Education Program) diplomas. IEP diplomas are not really diplomas at all. What they communicate to potential employers and colleges is, “This is a special ed student who does not have the intellectual ability to graduate from high school.” From my experience, administrators in NYC use these “diplomas” as a way to get rid of their “problem” learning disabled students (rather than taking the time to actually educate them).

Two of my former principals issued IEP diplomas to students who showed up to school maybe 20 percent of the time. They also gave them to students who showed up every day, tried their best, and could have easily gotten local diplomas, if not Regents diplomas, if they had just stayed one extra semester in high school. Such students should be encouraged to stay in school for a few more months to get a diploma that will actually help them succeed in the future. High school special education students should also be clearly educated about what an IEP diploma actually entails. WNYC reporter Beth Fertig does an excellent job covering this and other issues affecting NYC’s special education students and their families.


Anonymous stardust said...

I came across this when I used to work in the juvenile justice system in Florida. I had a student whose mother would not allow him to earn an IEP diploma. She knew that it was a waste of paper and that he could earn a regular diploma if he persisted just a bit longer than the school system wanted him too. She called everybody who would listen to her and eventually got him put on track for a regular diploma. I was very pleased that the school system listened to her. When he graduated he was able to get a nice job since he had a real degree.

11:12 PM  
Blogger Benjamin Whelan said...

I did not realize that something like this existed! Talk about opening themselves up to all kinds of criticism involving ideas of segregation and the like! Yikes!

5:28 PM  
Blogger Benjamin Whelan said...

I can't believe this is legal!
This is allowed under IDEA?

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Schoolgal said...

In elementary schools it is just as bad. First, when SETTS children did not meet promotional requirements, the DoE promoted them to Jr. High anyway. Nor, did they have to attend summer school.

The new deputy chancellor is supposedly an advocate for special ed students. Time will tell if he mandates workable solutions for students or just more useless paperwork for teachers.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, and also your other texts, Ms. Dennis! I'm a new general ed teacher, and am learning a lot by reading your very readable posts. Perhaps you could volunteer to teach the SpEd course for general ed candidates in a credentialing program some day?

6:57 PM  
Blogger pseudostoops said...

That graph is terrifying. Thanks for linking to the WNYC story, too.

4:49 PM  

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