Is special education a ‘charade’?

by Grace aka costofcollege

The Special-Education Charade
Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs, are one of the greatest pitfalls of the country’s school system.

This article was written by a mother who believes she is in special education “hell”, where federal laws meant to serve her child have failed.  Some Totebag parents have shared similar stories and others have suggested that parents expect too much these days.

In this case, “charade” may have different meanings depending on how individualized our public schools can afford to be and what your personal experience has been.  This article drew over 1,000 comments, including this one that was rated the most popular.

… As I read the story, the solution to the situation was obvious, and you found it at the end: more money; a lot of it. You are now spending $33k (not including transportation costs either, I’m sure) at a private school.

The U.S. pays a lot (compared to most other countries) in taxes for public schools, but not anywhere approaching $33k per kid. Nor are we going to get anywhere close to that in the current political environment (in fact, the trend is going the other way).

So beyond doubling/tripling the money we’re spending to properly be prepared for 5-15 kids in a 25-35 person classroom who go ” ballistic if he (thinks) some rule inconsistently enforced”, need individualized printouts, individualized instruction, monitoring of medication, etc, what is the solution? And how was it better before the ADA et al?



123 thoughts on “Is special education a ‘charade’?

  1. I think this is more the case of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Public schools just aren’t designed for individual learning plans for this many students. I have a good friend who is considering moving her daughter out of our high performing public elementary school and into a private school with more help because her daughter has hard to define learning issues (in gifted program but reading comprehension and vocabulary are low). My friend has the resources to put her in private school so it’s more of a I don’t feel like dealing with the public school because it will be so much work for me type of thing (and she works full time).

    I’ve been seeing a lot of teacher friends posting articles like this on Facebook lately

  2. I have been through a lot of IEP meetings, and none sound as grueling as what is described here. Our district is so efficient – 20 minutes, and you are out. There isn’t a lot of travel either – mainly the hearing itinerant teacher. They give me the reports to read beforehand so I know what is being recommended.

  3. My DS2 is the poster child for special education. Before the ADA, he would not have even been allowed in a mainstream school. Hearing impaired kids were routinely shunted into horrible state schools back then. The literacy rate, even by thei teens, was appallingly low. As it was, our district was clearly terrified of him in the beginning, largely because of his medical history but also because they weren’t used to dealing with hearing impaired kids. I am happy we have the special education laws to protect kids like him.

    Fast forward – today he is an 8th grader in honors classes, who has made the high honor roll every marking period.

  4. “Public schools just aren’t designed for individual learning plans for this many students.”

    ITA. I would think that the school system could save $$ if it had more specialized schools/ability to transfer to private schools with vouchers, etc. But then again, that would conflict with the legal requirement to educate kids in the least restrictive environment.

    Having one of those active kids myself, I agree with those recess kinds of articles. IMD(tm), the expectations for how long kids sat still and focused were very different. We ran around before school, ran around for hours after school, and had two long recesses plus lunch and gym sandwiched into a 6-hour school day. Now we have jammed more sitting and less running around into the day (and take away the one 20-minute recess as the first level of discipline!), and we wonder why kids can’t behave like we did.

    I also wonder whether the schools are contributing to the problem and pushing some borderline kids over the edge. (Yeah, ok, that was disingenuous: I think the schools are making some really dumb-ass decisions). Example:

    MS: kids have 10 periods a day, and A and B days. Some classes cover two periods, some cover one; many classes meet every day, others meet every other day. So the kids have different schedules every day, and break at different times, and even when they are in class, the bells are ringing to send other kids to other classes. They have 7-8 different teachers, each of whom has different expectations for how you set up and maintain your class binder, how and when homework assignments are given out (orally, written on the board, posted online), and what the appropriate procedures and deadlines are for making up work when class is missed. They offer clubs that routinely require the kids to miss a half-day (e.g., “quiz bowl” for away matches), and by 8th grade they routinely take the NJHS kids out of class to “help” with various projects for the younger kids. Based on the “you need to learn to take responsibility for your own work” philosophy, the teachers offer no assistance to kids to help ensure that missed work is made up; anything that is not done per that teacher’s specific criteria is a 0.

    HS: kids have A and B days, but there are only 4-5 periods a day, and fewer teachers. Classes meet every other day. There is more homework and less direction (e.g., longer projects with milestones, but milestones are @ 2 weeks apart), so kids have more work to manage but a minimum of two days to get homework done. All clubs meet after school; in 9th grade, at least, there are no clubs or programs that require kids to miss class routinely.*

    Not surprisingly, MS was challenging for my ADHD kid. Every day was high-stress just trying to keep all of the balls in the air and remember what needed to go in on which day — and those days when multiple teachers dumped big homework on the same day were just hell. She did admirably, but there was a lot of angst along the way and at least two events a year where grades dipped to Cs and Ds because of missed assignments.

    As y’all know, I was worried about HS. But (knock on wood) it has been a breeze so far. Yes, the work is harder, and she is doing more homework, and she still periodically misses assignments or forgets her sheet music on an A day — but there’s just not so much administrivia to keep track of.

    It seems to me that the MS schedule effectively pushes borderline kids into ADHD and anxiety and all of those things — I look at DD’s schedule and wonder how *anyone* made it through. I certainly couldn’t have. If they just gave the kids less logistics to spend brain cells on, and more time to manage the homework (our real godsend has been 2 days for all homework assignments, which has really helped her plan her workflow), I think you’d make it a lot easier for normal and borderline kids to manage without 504 plans and IEPs — which, in turn, would save the resources for the kids who really do need more help.

    (*my kid is not on a varsity sports team, so no info how much class time is missed for those).

  5. Having been through many IEP meetings, I find the process frustrating, emotional and bureaucratic but overall have been pleased with the services my son receives. The process seems very hit or miss as to whether you get someone who knows what they’re talking about and there clearly are some politics and funding issues driving some of the recommendations. The issue is not at the therapist level, but with the management of the overall program.

    Like Mooshi, I am happy that we have special educations laws for these children.

  6. “t seems to me that the MS schedule effectively pushes borderline kids into ADHD and anxiety and all of those things ”

    I totally agree, and my twice exceptional DS1 completely fell apart in MS. He couldn’t cope with any of that. But now, DS2 is having no problems at all. If I had just had DS1, I would have thought that MS was impossible from an organizational point of view, and that MS homework would routinely take 2 or more hours. But DS2 always has everything in on time, figures out the makeups, and spends about 45 minutes max on homework each night.

  7. Like many laws, it’s not so much whether they should exist as whether/how they are funded and enforced. Is it possible to achieve what the law requires? And given that funding, enforcement and implementation are all driven by branches of government, how well or poorly do those branches work together?

    I think Mooshi’s son’s success is because she lives in an upper middle class school district with adequate resources, not because of the existence of the law. The same law in rural Appalachia would be ineffective. And her district would probably do almost as well with a policy as with a law.

    The question about feasibility, laws/government regulation and resources was one I was thinking about regarding the V.A. scandal (waiting lists for healthcare that violate the law with no real consequences to anyone, which is completely what I expect from a single payer healthcare system) vs. the Volkswagen emissions scandal (big fine to a corporation for violating emissions law, because a corporation violated the law and not a branch of government)

    The U.S. puts more resources into poorly performing students than many other countries. It also funds wealthy districts at high levels, due to property taxes, which is unlike many other countries. There are advantages and disadvantages to the U.S. approach.

    Are there statistics on how IEP students do long-term that control for family background and type of challenge? I’m really curious about whether the same issues that make it hard to succeed in a public school setting make it hard to succeed in an employment setting. Does helping people succeed in a public school setting change their life trajectory, or do people who are, for example, slow readers succeed in life by choosing jobs that don’t require extensive reading?

  8. WCE said “I think Mooshi’s son’s success is because she lives in an upper middle class school district with adequate resources, not because of the existence of the law. The same law in rural Appalachia would be ineffective. And her district would probably do almost as well with a policy as with a law.”

    I totally disgree. Without the law, he would have been forced to go to the state school for the deaf, which would have been a terrible placement for him. I went to school before IDEA, and I can remember that kids with disabilities were simply not allowed in regular schools.

  9. “And her district would probably do almost as well with a policy as with a law.”

    WCE – Absolutely not. The only reason services are granted to these children, upper-middle class and otherwise, is because of these laws and various lawsuits brought against the DOE and State to enforce them.

  10. Mooshi and ATM beat me to it. I am old enough to remember how those kids were either shuttled off on the short bus or just identified as “not really that bright” or “he has potential if he just learned to apply himself.”

    The law is 100% necessary, because otherwise there is no vehicle for parents to force schools to even try to educate these kids. Especially in the World of Testing, where the schools have more incentive than ever not to want these kids bringing their scores down. The problem is the lack of funding and inefficient enforcement methods (private lawsuits) that allow only the UMC and truly persistent to prevail.

  11. Mooshi, to the extent IDEA is effective, I think it’s effective when it’s properly funded. Looking only at the benefits to the mainstreamed children in classrooms without adequate specialist/aide support due to local funding issues does not consider the harm to the other children where a teacher has 30 students, including disabled ones, with no/minimal support.

    Your son’s success is an anecdote of success for IDEA, but doesn’t consider the whole picture. I think LfB’s point (don’t make systems that are hard for disorganized middle schoolers to manage) is a good one. I’ve never lived anywhere in which navigating middle school was that complicated. Maybe UMC parental demand for “better schools” drives complexity along with quality.

  12. ADA compliance is a matter of civil rights. Everyone is entitled to a public school education. If schools don’t have the funding to comply, they better deal with it. And remember that sending kids to those “special” schools cost taxpayers money too, sometimes more because kids had to travel so far or even board there.

  13. I have a child with what our school calls a 504. She has very few accomodations, but that is partly because the school went to a 1:1 ipad system, so more than 75% of all assignments are made, completed, and turned in electronically. She is also in a private school – not due to this, just as our local public barely meets state acceptable level standards – where they are not required to accomodate. Our meetings about accomodations are minimal and easy. However, I have heard horror stories from friends in public school, especially for kids with a lot of needs. The general impression is the school is trying to limit its costs.

    There is a complete spectrum of disabilities that affect how children learn and experience a classroom. While I do not think that we should exclude all kids with disabilities as we once did, I am not sure that expecting every child to be mainstreamed is realistic either.

    At one time I was in a position to observe a classroom for about 6 weeks. It included a child who was in the 5th grade by age, but could not read (cognative disabilty), could not write/type (physical disability) and the level of comprehension was about 1st grade level. In addition, the child needed assistance eating and toileting. The classroom also included two other children without physical disabilities, but learning disabilities that put them 2 years or more below grade level and one other child with physical disabilities. The teacher had at least four IEPs, plus unknown more for children with milder issues. How can the teacher truly meet all these kids needs in a classroom of 18 with only one aide? My observation was no one in that class really got what the parents thought they were getting.

  14. I can remember when I was in junior high, kids with visual disabilities had to go to the state school for the blind. Every year, they would trot some of those kids out to “regular” schools to visit classrooms and educate us normals on what it means to be blind. When I look back at that, I just cringe. What a horrible thing to make those students do.

  15. WCE – I think you’re forgetting about how it was when these laws did not exist. I have my issues with how the law is implemented, but compared to that alternative, I’m thrilled. I think we both agree that the implementation could be better funded and improved.

    Also, have you looked in the benefits to neuro-typical students of having neuro-atypical students in their classes? They do exist. Parents of neuro-typical students do opt into ICT (integrated classes).

  16. While I was writing, you all addressed it better – it is partly funding and partly what is the desired outcome for those students. I remember the kids being being excluded from school and sent to state institutions to live. Many people have benefitted from the law as most schools would NOT provide the services if not required.

  17. ATM, as Austin commented, I think it depends on the degree of disability. I think part of why Mooshi chooses NOT to live in Appalachia is that she knows that school districts there can’t “just deal with” their funding issues, regardless of IDEA.

  18. “Maybe UMC parental demand for “better schools” drives complexity along with quality.”

    Intriguing Q. I wonder if it is the school’s version of the TSA. I.e., “We’re not willing to spend the $ we’d need to actually make significant, measurable improvements in performance, so instead we’re going to create a complex, convoluted system that looks like we’re actually doing something.”

    Or, less cynically, I suspect that UMC families demand a lot of opportunities for their kids, especially in the lower grades while kids are trying things out. So when you’re trying to squish in art and music and health alongside every academic subject (because kids are too young to be allowed to drop certain areas they aren’t good in/don’t like), you have to divide up the schedule into smaller and smaller chunks to fit it all in.

    Certainly one of DD’s regrets in HS is that she doesn’t have the time to take art any more — art/language/band were in the “pick two” category.

  19. I think there are two basic kinds of disabilities, and how they impact schools are different. There are disabilities that simply impact a kids ability to access the education – things like being hearing impaired, using a walker, but also basic ADHD. These rightly fall under the ADA, and I think simply must be accomodated. Then, there are true learning disabilities. Those make up the bulk of what IDEA is about. These are the kids who learn differently, are often delayed, and may be cognitively impaired (or not). That gets trickier because it can be very complex to deal with learning disabilities, and many teachers don’t have the time or training.

  20. While I believe that MM’s son’s success has a lot to do with attending an affluent school and his parents’ advocacy, I agree that the law is also instrumental.

    “The law is 100% necessary, because otherwise there is no vehicle for parents to force schools to even try to educate these kids.”

    The bottom line is that the law is often only enforced when parents intervene.

  21. WCE, schools in Appalachia are bad for all kids, and were just as bad, maybe even worse, in pre-IDEA days. Basing school funding on local taxes is a bad idea everywhere.

  22. Mooshi, I think ADHD is a spectrum. Whether 20%, 10% or 5% of students are ADHD will depend on the expectations of the school. I utterly lack sitzfleisch, which is one of the reasons I didn’t pursue a PhD.

  23. “The bottom line is that the law is often only enforced when parents intervene.”

    But once some parents iintervene, things get better for everyone. I was friends from a hearing impaired mailing list with a marvelous lady who mentored everyone on that list. She lived here in Westchester, in a district north to us. Despite it being a wealthy district, she had to go all the way to appeals to get the basic hearing impaired accomodations for her son. He was about 12 years older than my son, and the school had done everything they could to force him to a specialized school. She made sure the state education officials were aware of what was going on in her district, and evidently the school was reprimanded. After that, not only was her school a much improved place for hearing impaired kids at least, but schools in Westchester in general became better places because they all realized they had to mainstream hearing impaired kids.

  24. WCE,

    To use the twice exception girl as an example. With her auditory processing disorder and ADHD she may do best with just the proper meds, the book, the class notes and a quite place to study. For her, being in class might be a net negative.

    Part of the issue may be with how grades are reported. It’s valuable for the girl to know that colleges and careers that require a lot of class time, meetings, listening, etc. may not be a good fit for her. Colleges and careers that involve a lot of reading, writing, IM, e-mail etc. might be a great fit. But, they don’t report grades out as:

    Learned what we wanted her to learn – A
    Learned how we wanted her to learn – F
    Overall grade – C

    They just report the C.

  25. I think the laws are interesting and well-motivated. And I am truly happy that some students in some locations with some parents are able to benefit from them.

    In my experience the schools resist compliance, largely for budgetary reasons. A good educational administrator will tell the parents of the limitations of the particular school district or system. For example, years ago when I went to talk to the folks at the public schools my son was slated to attend, they smiled nicely, treated me well and suggested that private schools would be a better alternative for my son. Of course, I knew the law, and they told me of my rights but sighed and told me about the time and effort it would take, in reality, to pursue their full implementation with respect to my son. I don’t frankly care about how much of their time it takes, but I do care about my time and I do care most importantly about my son’s time– he grows and gets older as wheels spin. And to what effect? To frustrate everyone?

    So I punted and off to private school went my son. Of course, every student there has an IEP and 5-0-whatever plans, a new psycho-edu. evaluation every two years (at $3500 a pop) and Mothers and lawyers. The teachers are supposed to be able to deal with, and be aware of, all of these needs and things in a regular, single day. I truly don’t think it happens.

    Maybe the question should be why can’t my kid suck and reading and be a whiz in math? Or care less about math, but really really like writing for the school newspaper? Or maybe settle for being fluent in his own language without having to take three years of another?

    Are expectations for our snowflakes (now that they cost so much) and the schools simply too high? Are we just becoming dumber as a society? I wonder about things as I plan my life and career around my kid’s k-12 education.

  26. One Q I had about the article was the author’s definition of “twice-exceptional.” She seems to portray it as “really good in English, really bad at math,” or vice-versa — basically, some big academic issue. I thought that term was more broad and meant kids who were both academically gifted in some way and academically challenged in some way — so, e.g., the genius with dyslexia. It may manifest itself as “great in one area, crap in another”; but it can also manifest as consistent inconsistency (e.g., my brilliant flake).

    I also do think it’s the 2E kids who have both expanded the need for IEPs and 504s and challenged traditional expectations. I think originally people saw the issue as providing basic services for kids who were mentally or physically challenged. But the mentally challenged part applied only to kids in remedial classes — if you were in tough classes and doing well, you weren’t challenged; if you were in tough classes and doing poorly, you just weren’t smart enough (or were smart but needed to learn to apply yourself). But in either event, you didn’t need services.

    I think the realization that there are 2E students is what has driven the change in numbers. The idea that a kid can be really bright but still can’t read because of dyslexia, for ex, was just a foreign concept for a long time.

  27. “But once some parents iintervene, things get better for everyone.”

    Not always the case. Once some parents intervene, the school often caves in to those parents while scrimping on most other special ed students. Their business model doesn’t enable them to provide better services for everyone.

  28. LfB – that MS schedule is complex. DS had core subjects every day but the schedule for electives differs. Band students have an extra lesson each week where they may miss a core subject. I thought this schedule was more than enough to deal with.
    I have learned a lot about what to look out for from Mooshi’s past comments regarding organization. One of the things I do, is check the online grading system. I can see how kids can get lost in keeping track of so many quizzes/tests/projects/home work. Instead of focusing of the subject matter a lot of time is wasted focusing on organization and method.

  29. PTM – did you ever considering suing the school district for reimbursement of your son’s private school tuition? I am just learning about this whole other world. I don’t believe its an option for us, but seems to be a regular part of the process for kids with higher needs and the private schools that cater to them.

  30. nothing to do with today’s post but Downton fans have you seen this?

    The exhibit will showcase nearly 40 costumes designed for the show’s aristocratic Crawley family and their servants, showing the evolution of fashion from 1912 to 1923.

    The exhibition, currently on display in Wisconsin, is on tour in North America through 2017.

  31. Some parents with kids who have disabilities are realistic about what sorts of education are reasonable and rational for their child after middle school and others are not. (Which will ultimately lead to what are reasonable occupations.)

    For example, my coworker’s son is 2E and they had placed him in a program that focused more on meeting his “gifted” needs with accomodations for this dysgraphia and lower executive function. However, the volume of the work, even with accomodations meant he did nothing but school work seven days a week, with 6-8 hours both days of the weekend. After a year, they decided this was not the life the son wanted or what seems to be best in the long run, not to mention, the grades were still borderline and everyone was stressed. They looked at many options and hare moved his school to one that gears his study toward levels where he can be successful with his levels of dysgraphia and executive function, This likely means college (four-year program anyway) is not in the works, but an apprenticeship program would be fantastic. Reality is we need skilled trades and he’s already found a couple he is interested in.

    The son still has an IEP and has accomodations, but it as not as extensive as he needs less to be successful in the new environment. Maybe more important, the son is seeing himself as successful vs. a failure in school.

  32. For many kids with disabilities, private school placements are a worse option because many private schools don’t have the resources at all. I have a friend who has a son with speech issues, who wanted him to go to a Quaker school for religious issues. It has been a mess – he can’t get speech services at the private school so my friend has to transport him to the local public school twice a week for services. Different states have different laws governing the extent to which private schools are required to provide services.

    The parents on my hearing impaired mailing list have largely found that private schools just don’t work out for their kids.

  33. ATM, in a word, no. Because I was warned off by the public schools before I started, and didn’t want my son to have to repeatedly demonstrate failure until we could prove the schools weren’t meeting his needs. He grows older. If he has a problem now, let’s address it now, not after all meetings, procedures, processes, and appeals have run their course.

  34. That is my understanding of private schools as well because unless they are specifically focused on a type of disability they will only accept kids who need minimal accomodations. The public school is required to accomodate all.

  35. “However, the volume of the work, even with accomodations meant he did nothing but school work seven days a week, with 6-8 hours both days of the weekend. ”

    This is an issue I have with gifted and honors programs in general. The *volume* of the work should be the same as in regular programs. The work should be harder, not simply be more of it. But all too often, schools confuse the two. My DS1 bailed on his AP history for exactly that reason. The teacher wasn’t giving them work that was any harder than regular history, but she was giving them piles, and piles, and piles of it. I heard from a counselor that this course has one of the highest drop rates in the HS, and I can see why. I also question whether the course as structured adequately prepares them for the AP test.

    In any case, if gifted/honors programs kept that distinction in mind, there might be less need for extra support for 2E kids

  36. PTM – I completely understand. It seems a heartless process where proof of failure is required.

  37. Mooshi – in touring private schools, so far that is my experience as well. They simply do not have the resources on site. it also means a lot of parents don’t disclose issues up front for fear of being rejected.

  38. MM – Regarding AP, DD#1 in her first class this year. The pace seems to be about what I recall from college. Within every 5 class days, they cover 2 chapters (reading quiz on each) and then an test during the 5th class. The teacher has structured the test like the AP exam – 30 multiple choice and then an essay. They go over the types of essays and what makes a good one as well. They also have 4 book reports, one per quarter on books that relate to the period being studied. My DD likes this better than some of her Pre-AP that seem to focus on much larger volumes of different types of assignments/

  39. ” I don’t believe its an option for us, but seems to be a regular part of the process for kids with higher needs and the private schools that cater to them.”

    I know a lawyer who specializes in this area, and NYC seems to be particularly amenable to this as opposed to the suburbs. The private schools used are typically very specialized. So the families who can afford to hire lawyers and get the school district to pay for their kids’ private schools while many other special ed students receive much less in services.

    “Our district is so efficient – 20 minutes, and you are out. “

    Yup, and if a parent asks too many questions that cut into their 20 minutes they don’t seem to like it. Although technically it’s prohibited, it does seem that the school has basically decided upon the services they will or will not provide before meeting with parents.

  40. placed him in a program that focused more on meeting his “gifted” needs with accommodations for this dysgraphia and lower executive function.

    I take that to mean he’s a bit of the absent minded professor?

    I was reading about the VW scandal and VW claimed it was just a few rouge engineers. Someone said that was impossible because each of the millions of lines in a VW ECU code came with mountain of documentation that had to be navigated though a maze of bureaucracy. Indeed, a developer there might spend 2% of his time time writing actual code and 98% of his time on meetings and paperwork That said, large organisations need people who love all those rules and processes and thrive in that environment.

    Smaller organisations often need a different set of people. Folks who thrive in a 30 person startup where you just get things done without a lot of rules and process. Those people would hate working at VW just as much as the VW people would hate working at a startup. What people need to keep in mind is that corporate America needs both types of people but the educational system is wildly biased in favor of the big organisation type and against the less process oriented.

  41. I didn’t know that you could get the school district to pay for the specialized private school option. What I do know, is that a few kids I know are at a specialized private school for learning disabilities. The kids made that switch early by second grade or so.

  42. AustinMom, that is more like the regular history that my kid dropped back to. His AP class was nothing like that. The teacher was really big on Cornell notes, so they had to do piles of those every week and hand them in. The notes were a big part of the grade, and they are very time consuming to do right. And then they had to do all these group presentations on a special topic that the course was focusing on. They had video conferences with some people at the UN who specialize in this topic. I think they only took one test during that marking period. The teacher expected a lot of writing, but it was in a really weird style – she liked LONG papers with piles of detail, and she was adamant that they were never supposed to have a thesis – the paper was supposed to be a discovery process. Meanwhile, the AP textbook was completely ignored.

  43. “So the families who can afford to hire lawyers” – A cut for the lawyers may be worth it compared to the costs of supplementing a public school that’s not a good fit. But yes, definitely a MC – UMC approach. The kids who qualify for this seem to be much higher need, so the school and community might be glad they’re not being mainstreamed.

    “Yup, and if a parent asks too many questions that cut into their 20 minutes they don’t seem to like it. ”
    Or heaven forbid you actually ask them for data backing up any progress towards the goal. A goal is typically: “Johnny will be able to use scissors independently 3 out of 5 time per semester effectively.” It sounds very quantitative but if you ask how many times Johnny used the scissors effectively in that period you get a blank stare. The response is usually “Johnny is making progress towards meeting the goal.”

  44. “Yup, and if a parent asks too many questions that cut into their 20 minutes they don’t seem to like it. ”
    I learned that the time for questions is beforehand. And when I wanted particular accomodations, the best time to plant that little idea was also beforehand. The hearing itinerant teacher was always a good resource. For my oldest, at his 504 meeting, we have his therapist dial in. We did that once with my DS2 as well. Those people know how to quickly steer the conversation.

  45. Mooshi – yes having the therapist on board with goals/changes ahead of time and at the meeting is key.

  46. “One of the things I do, is check the online grading system.”

    @Louise: Very helpful — as long as the teachers actually use the system and do so in a timely manner. IME, the teachers who were the most insistent that students abide by strict deadlines for makeup work were also the ones who (i) never posted the assignments online and (ii) didn’t update grades until the week report cards were due. There was actually a union contract issue about how often teachers could be required to use/update that system.

  47. What a day for this – I just learned my son’s therapy group is disbanding and now have to find another one. Did I mention how frustrating this stuff is?

    Loving my new haircut, though!

  48. ATM: What is a therapy group?

    I agree with LFB’s critique of online grading systems–it’s infuriating when teachers don’t input data in a timely manner.

  49. Meant to add – they were traveling with their teenage kids, and wanted something more comfortable/living space than a hotel.

  50. My tiny district has a reputation for being friendly to special ed families. It was even highlighted many years ago in a NYT article. I know several families that move into our district from the city because their kids will eventually require certain services or classrooms once they enter elementary school. Unfortunately for some of these families, the reputation is a little outdated and underfunded. The way it seems to work in Westchester is that certain school districts specialize or assist with certain types of learning or physical disabilities. My district happens to be great if you have severely autistic child, down syndrome, cerebral palsy and many other serious issues. However, if you just have the standard learning disability issues and you expect extra services – it results in a fight. sometimes big fights.

    The parents have a committee to share information, experiences, private therapist/evaluator names etc. The school also learns from expensive or time consuming fights and in some cases has made positive changes that improve the experience for anyone with a similar disability that follows.

    Louise -there are two kids in my immediate tiny development that are bused to a private school that is paid for by the taxpayers in my district. The parents did have to get lawyers, but it is a private school that specializes in a language based learning disability. It was necessary because they proved that their kids could not be taught to effectively read on grade level in our public schools. One of my closest friends sends her son to the same school, but she pays because our school district said no. There was a lengthy investigation, and the school district ‘won” that situation because they proved that they could educate this particular kid.

    Even though these are upper middle class districts, the parents seem to face some of the same issues with obtaining a 504 status, and dealing with reduced services in the annual IEP meetings.

  51. BTW, I recently learned how important a federal law and a 504 can be to insure access to a public school education for a child with an illness. I often post about my friends that live in the Peninsula (aka Silicon Vally). I’ve always been amazed at the services that are not offered in these public schools even though the real estate is so expensive. The property tax laws in California can result in schools being very squeezed for funds even when their communities are rich. One staff member that I take for granted is a school nurse. This is pretty standard in NY. I sit on a safety committee now as the parent representative, and it is clear that the issues that the nurse deals with in 2016 vs. when I was a kid are very different. There are more kids with life threatening allergies, type 1 diabetes, and other illnesses that might have kept them out of a main stream school.

    My friend’s child was diagnosed with type I diabetes during the Christmas break. She couldn’t return to her elementary school in northern CA because there is no school nurse. There is one nurse that is shared by 8 elementary schools. The school initially told my friend that a parent or guardian would have to come to the school each day to check blood, and give any necessary insulin. Both of the parents work outside of the home, so this wasn’t going to be a viable long term solution. They quickly learned that the school district would HAVE to comply with the law once the child received a 504. Even in fairly liberal states, it often comes down to lack of funds. As a result of the protection afforded by the ADA, and with the language in her 504 – the school will be required to hire adequate staff to insure that this child can safely attend their public school.

  52. Houston – my son has issues expressing himself appropriately to a degree significant enough to warrant therapy. He either does not recognize that a response is required, what an appropriate response is, or that his response is inappropriate. Social rules and cues that you and I naturally pick up on, he needs to be explicitly told.

    The group was a social skills group where a speech/play therapist supervises interactions with other kids and models appropriate responses in a variety of settings – cooperative and competitive.

  53. Lauren’s comment, combined with my own observations about West Coast housing prices, makes me wonder whether West Coast housing prices are high in part because property taxes are low(er). We observed when shopping for houses that most people bought based on the monthly payment, not the price of the house. The fact that more of the payment goes to property taxes in New England and to interest on the West Coast is something I’d never thought about.

  54. Thanks for explaining ATM. Sorry your group was disbanded.

    Thanks for the link, Lark! I appreciate the info.

  55. I think that part of CA and San Fran city are expensive right now because demand exceeds supply. There are too many people with the deep pockets to buy in a market with too few properties for sale. For now.

  56. wait, I thought GE was mainly in Albany. I have a friend who works for them up there.

  57. northern CA has been crazy expensive for a long time. I remember back when I was in CT, we were hiring another faculty member. We had a standard speech for warning candidates about the high housing costs in CA. One candidate was from San Jose, though, and he laughed, and said that our cheap housing prices was one of the reasons he wanted the job. He got it, by the way, and was able to buy a really nice house in Fairfield County after selling his small San Jose house

  58. Lauren is certainly right that demand exceeds supply. But the level to which properties are bid is affected, for 90+% of the population, by the monthly payment.

  59. But the level to which properties are bid is affected, for 90+% of the population, by the monthly payment.

    Isn’t one of the main factors in the Bay Area the high number of all cash buyers?

  60. Rhett – That is my understanding. If you are looking at a property for 1.5 million and you have your 20 % saved for the downpayment, you are going to lose out to someone with the cash up front.

  61. I don’t know what is driving that market except the desire for so many people making at least “x” dollars to live in the same small area that includes San Fran proper, and then the communities to the south and north of the city.

    Many buyers have to be all cash even when they don’t really have the cash because it is so difficult to buy a decent home. My former neighbor lost at least ten houses because they weren’t an all cash buyer. She had to wait a year and rent, save more money and then her broker finally told her that some people were taking loans from their brokerage house so they would have another 1 – 2 million in cash. A woman that works for DH just bought a regular looking home in the Peninsula for almost $3 million. He knows what she earns, so we just couldn’t figure it out. She volunteered that they borrowed 1/2 the money from their parents.

    My old college friend tried to buy for a year in the Peninsula because she was living in their starter condo, and they outgrew it with two kids . They tripled their money from the condo, but they kept losing houses in multiple bids. She finally bought a house by purchasing the home that no one else would buy. We went to visit in August and I just don’t get it. The house was $1.5 million on a busy, double yellow line road. No yard because it is built into a cliff, but there is a beautiful deck. The home was a mess, and it probably cost another $500 -600K to fix it. We didn’t even think it was that nice when we saw it. Even in Westchester, I could buy a really nice house for 2 – 3 million. really nice. In most cases, I wouldn’t be dealing with multiple bids either at that price point. The housing market out there is just crazy.

    Speaking of markets….I think I need to do more than clip coupons if this stock market continues.

  62. I just don’t get it.

    Today in Palo Alto it’s 66 and sunny. Westchester? 23. That’s at least part of it.

  63. “I think that part of CA and San Fran city are expensive right now because demand exceeds supply. There are too many people with the deep pockets to buy in a market with too few properties for sale. For now.”

    I believe that real estate market has been very expensive for the past few decades.

  64. There are some all cash buyers, but looking at the real estate map on Trulia, nearly all counties have 6, not 7, figure median home prices. Some communities, like Richmond, have median home prices comparable to those in my area. I think that Lauren’s point, that most people buying want to be in a small geographic area where the number of homes is limited by geography and zoning, is probably the primary variable but I still think that compared to New England, % of payment going to interest vs. % of payment going to property tax is important.

  65. I suspect that people are concerned with the aggregate amount of the monthly payment (e.g. the total of mortgage payment, insurance payment and property tax payment) rather than how each component is allocated.

  66. WCE (re Richmond)…you really don’t want to live in Richmond. I don’t care what anyone says.

    And re monthly payments: just like buying a car, right?

  67. “you really don’t want to live in Richmond.”

    I wonder if Richmond will become like East Palo Alto or Whiskey Gulch. Those were bliighted, high crime areas that underwent gentrification due to their proximity to Palo Alto.

  68. Lauren – I am sorry to hear about your friend’s child. I am sure she is going through a very stressful time, having dealt with it myself. Yes they will be required to hire a nurse full time at that school OR appoint a staff member to perform the tasks including injections. The CA supreme court dealt a blow to the CA Nurses Association in striking down a requirement that a licensed nurse must be the one to give injections. That said, the assigned person has to volunteer and it is often the case that there is no one who will do it. I my daughter’s case the district hired a nurse to come in daily until she was able to manage her care independently – in MS. It was actually nice for the school as she also took care of other kids etc. She continues to have a 504 plan in HS so she can monitor her blood sugar with an iPhone app, eat in class if necessary, etc.

    As for property taxes – they are low if you have owned your house for a long time as they do not increase as rapidly as property values. If you buy a new house the property taxes adjust to current market values and do contribute to prices.

  69. But isn’t RMS’s response to Richmond part of the argument about busing, public schools and diversity? The African American kindergartners in my county (all 5 of them combined), had better readiness scores than the incoming kindergartners of any other race/ethnic group. That’s part of why I argue that racism is nearly gone- it’s classism that remains.

  70. Lauren – there is a great support/education group in the south bay – Carb DM – she probably has heard of them through the hospital – but she can google it if she hasn’t.

  71. Lauren, my sister taught special ed in Palo Alto for 37 years and knows all the programs in the Bay Area. She does some consulting now and might be a resource to your friend. You can email me at rockymountainstepmom@outlook.Com if you want to follow up.

  72. What happens to all of the kids with learning differences when they get to college, and, more importantly, the workplace? I understand Rhett’s point that people can self-select into different lines of work or sizes of employer to fit their skill set, but I don’t understand how those who have been receiving various “accommodations” since kindergarten manage to compete with their peers for entry-level positions. How does that work? Are we doing those kids a disservice by demanding that schools adjust to their learning styles rather than helping the kids adjust to the demands of the workplace?

  73. Scarlett, it depends. Two of my kids have 504s. One child has fairly minor ADD. I cannot imagine she will be in any sort of college or workplace where she doesn’t have access to an electronic calendar. I suspect that she will also be able to use email to communicate with her coworkers and superiors. I anticipate that in college she will have a syllabus that details expectations and timing for assignment deadlines and details the quantity and timing of midterms and papers.

    We have been trying for years to get the teachers to place assignments and due dates on some form of accessible media. Last semester things unraveled as we found out that the school did away with the finals schedules and so, a week before finals were supposed to occur, she and the school had no idea when her final exams would occur, or over how many days they would occur. She also had a joint final paper for two classes in which the two teachers could not come to agreement on how long the paper was to be (e.g. four to six paragraphs or four to six pages) or what it was supposed to cover.

    My kids have some issues, but many of those issues could be resolved by having a functional school system. No kid should be guessing about when an assignment is due or when a test is to be held.

    The other child has had speech issues forever. When he was in kindergarten, the county decided it was too much hassle to hire a speech teacher for his school. So, no one at his school would receive speech therapy. Being parents from h3ll, DH and I, along with some help from the state, were able to convince the school that it was easier to hire a therapist. Hauling the superintendent in front of the Grand Jury helped as well.

  74. RMS and Bay Area mom, thank you!!!!
    I am going to share this information with her.

    Bay Area, her ped sent her to the children’s hospital in downtown SF so she feels fortunate to have access to pediatric doctors/nurses/therapists/ etc that just deal with pediatric endocrinology.

  75. Murphy, thanks for that informative response. The extent of school system dysfunction is amazing. Really.

  76. Sorry I missed this topic today. Our suburban district met its required budget cuts but gutting special ed services. When my daughter was in elementary, they would put about 5 kids with dyslexia in one class, and give that class an aide that could give those kids a little extra help. By the time my son finished elementary, they had done away with all of the aides and specialists in each school – there was one central-office person who advised teachers on how to handle all of the kids in their class by email. Obviously, not very effective.

    The accommodations my son needs are not costly. He gets copies of teacher notes so that he doesn’t have to write everything down during class, and he gets to go back to a class during advisory period if needed to finish written work. In the neighborhood middle school, some of his teachers refused to come to his 504 meeting, saying he “is bright and does not need accommodations.” (They would not even provide the preferential seating, which involves saying “sit here” one time.) I had learned in elementary that if you try to get a teacher who does not want to provide accommodations to do it anyway, they will take it out on your child. So when the middle school teachers made clear they weren’t going to cooperate, we moved to the charter school. I have twice been asked to participate in a lawsuit againt the elementary and the middle school, but I declined. I just want him to get to learn.

    Scarlett – I don’t know what will happen when he does not have accommodations. He scored just under 700 on the English part of the PSAT, and this morning I found a school paper he had left on the table. It was answering a question posed by a teacher, roughly five sentences, typed. There is not one capital or punctuation mark in the paragraph, although what is written is of adequate quality. He does better on essays done at home, and presumably in college he won’t have to do a lot of essays in class. (I have no idea if that is true.) For a career, he wants to be a psychologist. That will require years of extensive writing to get the degree, but I don’t know how much writing once he is employed. He is extremely articulate verbally, and does well dictating essays. I assume in his adult life, the technology to make that possible for him will continue to advance.

    On the flip side, my neighbor was a special ed teacher in our district. She was frutrated by the parents of a student who came on a special bus every day, and was wheeled in on something lke a stretcher. She did not believe the girl heard or comprehended anything that went on. There was a nurse that tended to her during the day, and they had a program to try to meet the IEP, but the girl was essentially never going to be able to even hold a spoon. The cost to the taxpayers was high, and the parents were frequently fighting for more services. I don’t know what the answer is in cases like that.

  77. “Are we doing those kids a disservice by demanding that schools adjust to their learning styles rather than helping the kids adjust to the demands of the workplace?”

    Maybe in some cases. But sometimes the kids just need time/support for some period of time to learn how to manage themselves and their issues. I have one normal and one snowflake. Last night, the normal one had an hour-long meltdown over some homework. It’s hard to be a kid – you are learning so many new things every day, and things can pile up and get overwhelming. For my snowflake, the ADHD and anxiety turned that into a nightly meltdown, because everything was just that much harder, and things routinely snowballed.

    But just like when they’re babies and the skills start to build on each other, I am seeing the same thing happening with DD. She seems to be over the hump of the “hardest for her” skills — past that moment when there was the biggest delta between the school’s expectations and her ability to meet those expectations. And that has calmed the anxiety enough to help her learn to manage her own self. It’s still a huge process. But if you’d asked me a decade ago, I would never have guessed that my kid would be managing HS on her own, with good grades and off meds for the first time.

    I know all stories aren’t like that. But how many times have we heard stories about people who have been dealt a bad hand for some reason or another, and maybe they need extra support or help or something, but then over time learn to deal with it and develop workarounds and all that? I remain hugely impressed by our dyslexic Ph.D (no way I could have survived that kind of program, and I read very very quickly and easily). To my mind, it’s the school’s job to support kids so they can learn to manage whatever their issues are, to the best of their own capabilities.

  78. My school district’s increase in special education kids is primarily due to behaviorally disordered kids who throw chairs, etc. There was an article in our local paper about it, so it isn’t just my perception. Classifying kids who throw chairs as “special needs” puts numerous hurdles into disciplinary proceedings.

  79. I think there is far more flexibility in the workplace than in school, so many things that require official accomodations in school are just not an issue in the workplace.

  80. Scarlett,

    Murphy pretty much nailed it. A lot of these “accommodations” are just standard operating procedure in corporate America.

    For example: someone tried to raise a stink because no one was showing up at their meetings. It turns out they weren’t setting the Outlook alerts when they sent out their meeting invites. Everyone including senior management was like, “Obviously no one is going to show up at your meeting unless their phone beeps 15 minutes before telling them what conference room to be in.”

  81. My eldest was primarily, as WCE put it, behaviorally disordered. The loss of his sister while young didn’t help, neither did some of the adult mental issues in his home. In 8th grade in a K-8 he acted out several times, mostly outside of school hours, in a highly targeted non elementary school fashion such that he was de facto thrown out of school. The city was required by law to educate him somewhere, so we had to get him a full inpatient core evaluation. He was at home for weeks while the health plan refused to pay, saying that the state should pay for it, while the state would only pay for someone on medicaid or without insurance. Finally the impasse was resolved and the health plan paid, and he met the qualifications for an outplacement in a day school. Another month while we had to try to find a school – I went to visit four of them and only one was even marginally suitable with some academics – at the elite local mental hospital. He went there for 2 1/2 years.

    After spending time in the parent support group hearing about the other kids, I said enough is enough, he’s a punk, not crazy, and went back to to the city and said, why are you spending 30K (old dollars) a year on this kid when he could function just fine in the high school. I demanded a new core evaluation at an age appropriate level to get him back into the regular high school. A new team did it in the normal daytime, not inpatient, fashion, and if they didn’t see his name on the the 2 year old eval they wouldn’t have recognized the kid. We had to arrange for his outside therapy on our health plan, and they promised services (a special study hall and an adjustment counselor), but no hands on services were provided. His high school success was due to the track coach who worked with the counselor (both old townie school employees), and a couple of teachers who said, he doesn’t belong in this special needs level math, history, etc. class and had his schedule changed within a few weeks of re-enrolling. He graduated national honor society.

    Of course, it took another ten years for him to develop the techniques to function fully in society, to stay out of trouble, and to finish college, but today he is the gainfully employed married father of my grandchildren.

  82. Meme, I always appreciate your stories. I frequently need the reminder that the road can be twisty and hilly and still allow you to arrive at a lovely destination.

  83. Somewhat on topic – one of the younger mothers I know has been having trouble getting her son to sit in class. He is uninterested in reading and homework in general. This kid was in kindergarten last year and little better this year in first grade. All of this sounded very similar to my son, so I encouraged the lady to continue to owrk with him. Now, she is a doctor and is giving up practicing because she has three kids, her son is the oldest and she is really struggling to keep things afloat. She mentioned that her son is now on medication. Sort of similar to what LfB mentioned, schools are asking a lot of students not only in terms of subject matter but also in terms of process. In lower grades, it is sitting and focusing when quite a few kids haven’t matured to that level yet. I think we need a better understanding of what is truly a leraning issue vs. what can be sorted out by changing the way schools function.

  84. Sorry for the typos. I wanted to add that the kid above is in the same school as my kid, so being private there are accomodations made and the school will work the parents to address different issues. They know of enough resources in the community should your child have more specialized needs and they will let you know if they cannot help your child. They usually have recommendations for other options so you have their support if the school cannot meet your child’s needs.

  85. “WCE, schools in Appalachia are bad for all kids.”

    MM-As someone who lives in Appalachia (the Appalachian trail runs through my county), I disagree with this. My kids are getting a great education in our local public schools and will be well prepared for college when the time comes. Looking at the counties that comprise Appalachia in my state, I would guess that most of them offer average to above average educational opportunities for the students.
    If you look on Wikipedia at the Appalachian Regional Commission page, and specifically the map you will see that the federal government considers a very wide area to make up Appalachia,
    I am sure that you did not mean to offend me or anyone else on this blog. I just wanted to point out to you that parents in all regions care about the education of their children and that you should not just make a huge generalization like you did.

  86. For fidgety kids, our elementary has gone to the bouncy ball type chairs as a choice in class. They allow the kids to burn off energy in one spot. I am assuming this is a thing, so it may be available at other districts.

  87. A Parent-DS’s first grade teacher has the bouncy balls and wiggle chairs for the kids. She also teaches a lesson to a small group of kids in the class then gives them independent work. This work can be done sitting at a table, standing at a table, on the floor, on the bouncy balls, etc. She recognizes that 6 yo can’t sit still. I’m hoping DS is able to make the switch in 2nd grade, because I think that is the year that it is more teaching to the whole class instead of small groups.

  88. @Nap – IMO, as kids develop and mature they are able to make the transition from moving around to sitting at a desk. From my personal experience, with my kid, free play along with the movement that comes with sports or even biking continues to be important and “going outside” (with the interaction with the neighborhood kids) serves as a buffer and helps prevent any irritability and meltdowns.

  89. I’ve mentioned before that my sons attended a private boys’ school that provided 3 daily recess periods through fifth grade, and teachers always had the freedom to send naughty boys outside to run around the field. It was amazing. And it cost NOTHING. I wish that more public schools were in the position to use common sense instead of being forced to imprison kids so that they can “cover” the growing list of stuff (mostly IMO things that parents should be expected to handle) that politicians and school boards add to their plate each year. Even the Catholic schools around here, which have far more freedom to structure their schedule, have mostly dropped recess after first or second grade.

    *I understand that some kids need the school to teach them bathroom hygiene/food choices/bad touch/substance abuse/bullying/ because dysfunctional parents can’t or won’t, but young kids NEED silly things like recess to cope with the increasing academic demands. The inability of even an excellent public school system to use common sense was one reason we spent the kids’ college money on private school.

  90. Our ES has recess for all grades but I believe it’s only 30 minutes. They do make them run laps before they get to play which I’m generally in favor of. Gym is two days a week. I make sure my kids are outside when we get home most days for at least an hour running around and we usually walk to school (have not done it the past two weeks but need to get back into it). Kids need to move. This is also why I’m probably holding my son back for kindergarten and not sending him next year. His birthday is right before the cut off and the kid is fine in school (which is a play based curriculum so a lot of movement) but he’s the type that cannot sit still for very long.

  91. that politicians and school boards add to their plate each year

    Against the fierce opposition of parents? Or, are they doing exactly what the majority of parents want?

  92. “cover” the growing list of stuff (mostly IMO things that parents should be expected to handle)

    The growing list of stuff is almost all academically focused and at much younger ages. It’s not bathroom hygiene that’s the problem, it’s having kids reading in kindergarten that’s the problem. All, I might add, with no evidence that teaching more earlier does any good.

  93. We have recess here through middle school. My big complaint is that they hold it after lunch. This encourages poor eating habits – the kids wolf down their food in 15 seconds flat so they can get more recess time. But it also subtly discourages active play, because after all, who wants to exercise right after eating? We adults certainly don’t do that. My kids all started leaving most of their lunched behind, because they said they got tummy aches at recess. Well, duh. I think there should be daily recess, but it should be before lunch so they can run around and work up a good appetite.

  94. “Or, are they doing exactly what the majority of parents want?”

    Possibly, but it’s hard to tell because the way public school local politics works makes it hard for parents to voice and implement what they want for their children. In any case, I remain strongly supportive of the backpack voucher concept to allow more parents to make choices they want for their own kids’ education. Parents don’t always make the “right” choices, of course. But as we’ve seen, the top-down approach doesn’t seem to work all that well for many kids.

  95. “‘that politicians and school boards add to their plate each year’

    Against the fierce opposition of parents? Or, are they doing exactly what the majority of parents want?”

    Isn’t this sort of like the budget debates? Everything sounds like a good idea, and no one pays attention to the fact that it’s a zero-sum game and so for everything you add in you have to take something out? Politicians and officials are very, very good at giving people more things they demand — and very, very bad at giving us the bad news of what those goodies are going to cost. (All of which is for good reason, of course: we tend to vote them out of office when the bill comes due).

    Yes! We want art! and music! and gym! and recess! And our kids are falling behind and doing really poorly on reading tests, so let’s double reading to two periods a day! And we need a computer class in ES so kids can get with the 21st century! math! science! yaaaaaay!
    But the school day is still 6 hours long.

    I’m as guilty as the rest — I want my kids to have all those things. I’d rather make the school day 8 hours long if it meant time every day for recess and lunch-with-playground and art/gym/music/fun things that let the kids get out of both their seats and their left brains. But then again, my kids go to before- and after-care anyway, so that’s really easy for me to say; I can see why other parents would rather school be shorter so they have more time as a family and can then choose to supplement with whatever fun activities they care about.

  96. If they aren’t going to teach reading in kindergarten, then they need to have an alternative placement for the many kids who are reading or ready to read in kindergarten, and who after years of daycare, are actually mature enough to handle a classroom setting. My two boys were more than ready for academic kindergarten, and most of their friends were too. My oldest was in a clump of boys who were all reading simple chapter books (Captain Underpants, lol) in kindergarten. Why make them sit through another year of preschool?

    My daughter was not reading in kindergarten, and she took her own sweet time, but I think the extra year of reading activities was good for her in the end. She had already been through two years of Montessori preschool, and needed to move on.

    I think the problem is that elementary schools are not set up to meet the kids where they are. I would have preferred Montessori all the way through, but we don’t have public Montessori here except in Yonkers.

  97. ” I can see why other parents would rather school be shorter so they have more time as a family and can then choose to supplement with whatever fun activities they care about.”

    Exactly. It would be nice for parents to have more choices.

  98. I would never have believed how helpful being outside is for some kids, if I never had such a kid. DH was one of those kids himself, so he knew what DS needed and told me so. I can’t say I was convinced at the time, I thought something was the matter with him but I’ll admit to be somewhat on the fence about this as my family did have some very active boys and DH had a different opinion.

  99. A big problem is actually state legislatures, where various politicans just love making a point by introducing bills to require this or that be taught in the public schools. Drug education, yep we are all for it! Technology education, yeah we got to get that in for our 21st century workforce. Character educations, yes lets introduce a bill! State constituional history – how could we be against that?

    There is a bill pending in Indiana to require that cursive be taught. Nothing wrong with cursive, but is it really the role of the state legislature to micromanage like that?

  100. More choices lead to more operational complexity and expense (teacher schedules, bussing, additional costs related to running a longer school day). I don’t think schools will ever be able make parents happy.

  101. New York City has moved heavilly to school choice. Has that really improved things much?

  102. I’m not referring to mandated choices, but to a system where if enough parents wanted particular features then a school, like a charter school, would be sustainable for those families, each of whom had been allocated their proportional public funds for education.

    ” I don’t think schools will ever be able make parents happy.” — Yeah, probably true.

  103. Why make them sit through another year of preschool?

    Is preschool something to be endured?

  104. well, for a kid who has already done 2 or 3 years of preschool. it is kind of old hat

  105. “New York City has moved heavilly to school choice. Has that really improved things much?”

    For many kids, yes. Not for all, but there heavy restrictions on choice and NYC has to work out many of its long-standing problems.

  106. Here there are a lot of choices which makes parents happy and the choices may not be the conventional college track ones. There are folks who are fine with trying out new charter schools, homeschooling their kids, their kids doing online learning, having tutors for a small group of kids instead of going to school ….I had never heard of so many different arrangements.

  107. Colorado has school choice and I think it works very well. But it does favor the upper class because the big caveat is that you have to provide transportation, and that’s a lot harder for families that can’t drive their kids to school. There’s a family at our school where the kids are a half hour late every day because they have to take two buses to get there, and in order to get there on time, they’d have to catch a bus before 6 a.m.

  108. COC, after the news of the New Year’s Eve assaults in Germany broke out, I googled “is pepper spray legal in Germany” too. From what I gathered, it’s legal if labeled for use against animals.

    For no particular reason, dh bought mr pepper spray for Christmas to keep in my purse.

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