Its Monday. Now honestly, I look forward to Mondays because I get my entire planning period to myself.
For non teachers, a planning period is a VERY SHORT, teeny weeny bit of a teacher’s day when they get to half finish or barely begin planning for future lessons, and/or answer 300 parent emails, grade 500 papers, and maybe (if it is anytime after 10am or before 2pm) shovel food into their face.
Three days out of my five day teaching week, during half our planning period, we are required to meet with our subject matter or grade level co-teachers to discuss curriculum or assessment data. In theory, it sounds great. In actuality, its not.
However, Monday is NOT one of those days. So I allow myself the first 15 minutes of my VERY SHORT, teeny weeny planning period (did I mention it was a VERY small increment of time???) to peruse my favorite news sites to see what is going on in the world of education. No, I am NOT on Bravo reading the Housewives’ blogs 🙂 I actually enjoy keeping up with local and national education related news.
Today, I was reading Joy Resmovits’ article, “White House Issues Guidelines For Education Of Incarcerated Students With Disabilities.” You can find it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/08/incarcerated-students-with-disabilities_n_6287642.html.
Evidently, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (I wonder HOW LONG his planning period is??????), and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder are spending their Monday morning in Virginia, announcing some new Special Education guidelines that address how juvenile prison facilities should provide incarcerated juveniles with a free and appropriate education in the least restricted environment. HUH? Least restrictive?
Duncan and Holder are giving these “suggestions” in the form of letters or “How Tos” addressing: How to provide a high quality education to incarcerated youth, the civil rights of aforementioned juvenile offenders, pell grant information, and qualifications.
But most importantly, our great messengers are presenting an in depth informative letter concerning incarcerated youth with disabilities. The article suggests that these students must be given the accommodations stated in their Individual Education Plan (IEP) just as if they were being educated within the general education setting. It also states that these students must be taught with the same curriculum and rigorous standards, not a watered down version created just for them. It even goes further to clearly mandate, “(correction facilities)…May not routinely place all students with disabilities in correctional facilities in classes that include only students with disabilities.”
In other words, detention facilities may have to bring in additional teachers, create more classrooms or totally revamp their educational plan for students under 18.
My Problems With These Little Messages in these OH SO Important Letters:
- I think that Secretary Duncan, Attorney General Holder & Co. have great ideas, and these are things that definitely NEED to be implemented BUT once again, the educational system is being REACTIVE rather than PROACTIVE.
If the government REALLY wanted to reduce juvenile recidivism rates, or help incarcerated students with learning disabilities, they would put more money into community efforts that PREVENT youth crime, create jobs, economic growth, and other programs which improve our communities. Most schools in America are neighborhood schools. If you want to improve the schools, you MUST improve the neighborhoods!!!
2. Do you know what positive changes will come due to these Guiding Letters?
Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Goose egg.
Oh sure, for a about a month, the poor, already overworked, under budgeted people in the corrections industry will scramble to try and improve their Special Education programs, and maybe some poor, newby school of education graduates with $100,ooo in student loans will get jobs trying to implement all these “Suggestions.”
But, in the end, everything will go right back to the way it was because “Guiding Principles” and “Guidance Letters” mean nothing, but it does make the Department of Education look good when people read articles that allude to their actions (ha-ha, and I use the word “actions” loosely) creating positive change.
And we all know, if it looks good, it is good— NOT!!!