Many states are looking at paperwork reduction–teachers and administrators are inundated with requirements. In special education alone, back in 2002, there were 814 monitoring requirements for states and districts. It’s gotten worse. We are certainly losing the so called ‘paperwork reduction efforts (PRE).’  I applaud efforts to reduce paperwork and bureaucratic requirements.

But, I want to be sure that in our efforts, we stay focused on the big purpose,  lest we lose track (MT4TO).  It’s not just about paper reduction, its about the effect of all that paper on reducing time for teaching and learning.  And, unfortunately, on teachers leaving the field.

It’s really important that people ‘get’ the purpose/mission–otherwise I am concerned that we will get bogged down on various ‘rights’ and so-called ‘accountability’ mandates that end up actually limiting time for teaching and learning.  Often, we count the wrong or irrelevant things.  For example, in special ed, we count the number of days before an evaluation, but not the number of minutes for actual class instruction–time on task. As we know much of what goes for accountability these days is just paper counting, not aimed at improving teaching and learning (In fact, much of current ‘accountability’  doesn’t even deal with MT4TO).
And I sure hope we can bring back flexibility in special education for the vast majority of parents and schools that are doing well together and don’t need all of those regulations. As we had for a brief moment in time (2 years) in Massachusetts with  Procedures Lite. Of course, we have learned from its ending and would, in the future, structure it differently without waivers and rename it for what it is–an agreement.

Onward and upward,
Miriam

About Miriam

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA—an expert in public education, focused on special education law— is a lawyer, author, speaker, consultant, and reformer. For more than 35 years, Miriam worked with educators, parents, policy makers, and citizens to translate complex legalese into plain English and focus on good practices for children. Now, she focuses her passion on reforming special education, with her new book, Special Education 2.0—Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law. Presentations include those at the AASA Conference, Orange County (CA), Boston College (MA), CADRE (OR), and the Fordham Institute (DC). Her writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Education Week, Education Next, Hoover Digest, The University of Chicago Law Review on line, DianeRavitch.net, and The Atlantic Monthly on line.

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