Happy 2023. In the next set of Medium posts, I’ll share short, short vignettes — 13 of them — with the theme of TRUST, COMMON SENSE and…
This was originally posted on Medium
Happy 2023. In the next set of Medium posts, I’ll share short, short vignettes — 13 of them — with the theme of TRUST, COMMON SENSE and…
This was originally posted on Medium
Here’s another vignette –a short, very short story, gathered from my many years of teaching, being a hearing officer, school attorney…
This was originally posted on Medium
A term I heard, new to me, during COVID upended my view about special education: “General education students with IEPs.” Really? Who are these students? Do you know any?
Labeling students as disabled because they struggle is wrong, especially if our goal is to educate them better. Such mislabeling has even been called abusive! Mislabeled as Disabled: The Educational Abuse of Struggling Learners and How WE Can Fight It: Hettleman, Kalman R.: 9781635766394: Amazon.com: Books
Instead of plugging these students into an ill-fitting 45+ year old legal system — the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, enacted in 1975 — and further bloating it with mind-numbing procedures, huge costs, amid decidedly mixed results — and now burdened by COVID compensatory services claims — we need a new way to think about and work with struggling students — especially post COVID. For true student success, we need a new “normal” by focus, focus, focus, with passion and commitment, on educating them in general education through high quality teaching and learning opportunities.
Far better to engage an army of excellent teachers than to continue to engage an army of bureaucrats and lawyers, as we have since 1975. Especially as, sitting right next to these students in our classrooms are “general ed students without IEPs,” many of whom are equally behind, equally hurt by COVID, equally at risk. The group without IEPs often includes at-risk students, immigrants, tuned out students, students in poverty, students lacking effective technology at home, non-English speakers, and others.
Can you tell the difference between these two groups? Probably not, especially as disability labels for students with “mild or moderate needs” are imprecise and may reflect parental advocacy and certain ZIP codes more than actual student needs.
Who are “general education students with IEPs?” Undoubtedly, they are among students with mild and moderate needs who make up 80–90% of today’s students with disabilities with IEPs. Other countries, like Singapore, Finland, and others, don’t label struggling students this way; instead, they focus on educating all students through early and targeted interventions. As do many successful US school districts.
Meanwhile back to our law. Notably, this skewing of percentages was not planned by the IDEA, which was enacted for students with severe and profound needs — who now make up just 10–20% of today’s students with IEPs. Let’s be clear. “General education students with IEPs” do NOT include these 10–20% of students. For them, the special education system should proceed as is. Indeed, many schools expended enormous funding and effort to bring those students back early during the pandemic to meet their needs.
Let’s focus instead on the many other students for whom, tragically, legal constrictions often impede great education, highlighted by the current crisis.
Within that legal framework, we hear that special needs students suffered during the pandemic. They did. No doubt. Many parents are suing their schools for “compensatory services” to make up for lost services. See NPR’s report, Families Fight Schools For The Special Education COVID Shut Down : NPR. Notably, the NPR report highlighted the 10–20% of students with severe and profound needs. Whether claims settle or go to due process hearings, they challenge schools. To meet that challenge, California set aside $100 million to help resolve these disputes. How California plans to deter costly special education disputes | EdSource.
In fairness, stop and think for a moment. Isn’t it also true and very real that, besides students with IEPs, many others fell behind during COVID. What about them? Sadly, as I see it, instead of a rational response to a public education crisis, we revert to the comfort (?) of the old law that ill-fits today’s reality. Couldn’t we better spend that $100 million?
For compensatory services claims for students with IEPs who missed therapies, placements, meetings, etc., we have an army of lawyers. These cases are easy to win. After all, our federal Department of Education refused to waive any requirements for schools due to COVID back in 2020. The students’ IEPs were NOT fully implemented. The Feds told us they had to be. Case closed. Next!
Billy is entitled to 50 hours of speech therapy, a private school, or whatever he missed. Schools, ordered to pay, will deplete their budgets. Note California’s $100 million pot to alleviate this burden.
But are we being smart or wise? Are these wins good for students or for public schools? Phyllis Wolfram, Executive Director of CASE (Council of Administrators of Special Education), warned that if schools pay out all that is owed through compensatory services, we may break the system of public education.
Ironically, providing compensatory services may further exacerbate the struggles of many general education students without IEPs. It may lead more parents to seek IDEA eligibility for their children — further bloating the special education entitlement with more “general education students with IEPs”. That’s the nature of an entitlement — those who have it, get. Those who don’t are on their own and may try to get in on the deal.
What shall we do instead? Focus on learning, more than labeling. See, e. g., excellent education in communities that implement a competency-based system (CBS) and work to meet all students’ needs with timely intervention — whether the students are struggling, advanced, or in between (About CBS / About CBS (westminsterpublicschools.org) ). Notably, Westminster’s motto is: “Services before labels.” Right on!
See also programs that focus on hiring excellent teachers to build learning from the very beginning, so that students may not need any labeling. See, e.g., Harvard Education Publishing Group (hepg.org). And see the many communities where, surprisingly, harmony grew during COVID — and no compensatory services are claimed! These districts improved communication between home and school — building trust — through person to person, human connection, as they worked with students. Schools Up Communications Game During Pandemic (govtech.com)
In sum, the push for compensatory services happens seemingly automatically, by law, and since it’s an entitlement, dare we ask if there’s any science or rationality behind it?
Speaking of science — do we have evidence that an additional 50 hours of speech therapy, a year late, will help Billy? Is it the best use of scarce public resources? Does it make sense — or are we just filling a “right” — like automatons. Next!
Speaking of equity, fairness, wisdom, inclusion, and our public schools — Do we have any explanation to give to that student who has no IEP — of the reason we don’t focus on him?
We don’t. And we don’t.
If COVID didn’t shake us to our core, what will? Sure, 50 hours of therapy will be compensated. Public schools will pay. As “the only game in town”, more parents may seek IDEA “protection” for their children, further depleting general education programs and budgets. Advocates may rejoice. But is it good for America?
It is not. It’s time to change our path. Or, are we doomed to keep grasping that 45+year old system that ill-fits today’s challenges — because change is hard and powerful interests stand in the way? I hope not!
Let’s, at least, change the conversation and stop labeling general education students; let’s do something different for all students — with or without IEPs, as CBS and other effective programs already do.
It’s time to pivot toward all students who need good teaching, more than they need labeling, procedures, or rights. Far better than “compensatory services” for the few is real education for the many, especially those who fell behind during COVID. If we don’t pivot, that needy child without an IEP may learn less and less, more parents may lose trust in our public schools, and learning losses may lead to further watered-down standards. None of this is equity, reasonable, inclusive, equitable, or wise.
We’re overdue for a new “normal.” The question is: will we answer the COVID alarm and opportunity? The time for choosing is now.
This was originally posted on Medium
Elon Musk and Vernon Jones asked for advice. Here goes!
Dear Mr. Musk and Mr. Jones,
Amazingly — as I’ve been watching and reading the news, it turns out that both of you have asked for similar advice! So, I hope it’s alright that I’m addressing you together. You want to know how to spend money and promote ideas and policies that will move the needle forward and make a real positive difference for our nation. Thank you for that question and invitation, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, and Vernon Jones, Georgia state representative.
For half a century, I’ve focused on education — first as a teacher, then as a school attorney, and now as a reformer and writer. I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to share — most pivotally, that education is the vital key to maintaining our nation and democracy and that we are failing so many of our students and our nation. As an immigrant English-language learner in 4th grade, I experienced how wonderful public schools can be — they were for me. But now, so many of our students are failing and losing out on the opportunities our nation holds for them — especially students in poverty, minority students, English language learners, many students with disabilities, and many other vulnerable groups. Gaps between those students and others are widening. The pandemic has made the situation worse — even dire.
Yet, in our centers of power in Washington and elsewhere, responses to crises generally involve creating new programs or funding current (often failing) ones.
My solution? Let’s look at the research before we jump in. It tells us to work with families at home. Work with moms, dads, grandparents, and other caretakers with children aged 0 to 5. Our solution to school failures and widening gaps among students lies in helping children before they get to kindergarten. Because many children come to school unprepared to learn, let’s do the right thing. Let’s be guided by efficacy and research before we create new programs or throw more good money after bad.
Research supports the benefits of a more direct (and undoubtedly less costly) approach. In the field of education, it makes sense to pay attention to a child’s home situation when he or she comes to school unprepared. Home is where the child’s first teachers live and is the most practical place to start preparing children for the social and educational experiences they will have in school. Home is where children’s educations begin with their parents and caregivers — especially in the vital area of language acquisition. From there, their education can branch out to daycare centers, preschools, or schools. As I see it, education does not start with an institution — other than the institution of home with family.
I suggest that we start in the home because powerful research supports the efficacy of this approach. In 1995, Professors Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley turned early-childhood education on its head with their report, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children. Frustrated by their experience with programs that had no lasting effect on children’s language and growth, they sought a different route. Hart and Risley tracked verbal interactions in forty-two “well-functioning” families of infants and their parents in different socioeconomic situations — children whose parents were middle class/ professional, or lower/working class, or on welfare. Once every month until the children in the study reached age three, the researchers visited their homes, counting the number of words the children experienced.
They discovered that the numbers in the different groups varied widely, creating the now famous “30-million-word gap.” That is, children whose parents were on welfare heard and processed a reported 30 million fewer words in the first three years of life than did children of professional parents. I remember President Obama referring to this research in his speeches.
Even if that oft-cited number is too high, and even if other researchers have questioned this study (as they have), the essential message was astounding back in 1995 and still resonates today: education begins with children’s first teachers at home! The early life experiences of many children from lower-class or welfare families often does not prepare them to be “ready to learn.” Once in school, many of these children fall further and further behind. We know that if a child does not read by third grade, that child is more likely not to complete K-12 education. Some of these children enter the special-education system as students with disabilities, especially children in the categories of students with learning, speech or language disabilities (which comprise close to 60 percent of all students with disabilities served by the law). The bottom line: The importance of early-language acquisition at home cannot be overstated, especially as we know that early gaps continue into the school years. See, for example, Jessica Lahey, “Poor Kids and the Word Gap,” The Atlantic, October 16, 2014, http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/10/american-kids-are-starving-for-words/381552/
Given this reality, I am troubled that too often the push for early-childhood education circles back to the earlier, often disappointing institutional programs outside the home! Please help us here! Please use your creativity and clout to lead us to better ways.
Where is evidence that creating new programs will be effective on a large scale? See the long history of inconclusive evidence for the effectiveness of Head Start, a federally funded program, and similar programs. Of course, there are gems of schools — public and private, regular and charter, but they are not scaled to large systems.
The Economist’s “In the Beginning Was the Word” echoes this caution:
In January (2014), Barack Obama urged Congress and state governments to make high-quality pre-schools available to every four-year-old…That is a good thing. Pre-school programmes are known to develop children’s numeracy, social skills and (as the term “pre-school” suggests) readiness for school. But they do not deal with the [language] gap in much earlier development that [research has] identified. And it is this gap, more than a year’s pre-schooling at the age of four, which seems to determine a child’s chances for the rest of his life.”
Feb. 22, 2014, http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21596923-how-babbling-babies-can-boost-their-brains-beginning-was-word
Why do we not, instead, follow the research and good practices on language development and pursue the direct avenue at home? Why do we not proactively work with parents and children in the first place? If parents do not realize how important their role can be, let us take this opportunity — and duty — to share with them the value of talking with, reading to, playing and singing with their babies. The key is to talk, read, and sing!
Pockets of promising efforts are currently under way. We need far more. Here are some samples of programs for families of children up to five years of age.
· A program in Providence, Rhode Island, called “Providence Talks” sends trained visitors into homes to do what is described above. Home — Providence Talks.
· Too Small to Fail’s “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing.” Too Small To Fail
· California’s “First 5,” a state initiative enrolling parents and caregivers in research-supported practices; First 5 California — State Site.
· Zero to Three. Home • ZERO TO THREE.
· Start Early, formerly An Ounce of Prevention; Homepage | Start Early.
An ounce of prevention, indeed! In order to ensure equity for young children, we need to scale these in-home efforts toward national policy to help parents be as good at teaching as they can be. They can then send their children to school ready to learn, often without a need for any disability label.
Mr. Musk and Jones. You are both amazingly creative. Help us help our children and our nation! Let’s talk! Perhaps you/we can create prizes for parents and caregivers who are “doing the right thing” for their children. We need to be positive and encouraging. We need to find heroes at home! Prizes? Perhaps a ride in a space ship or in a Tesla?! Let’s honor and reward and encourage people. Together, we need to end the “opportunity gaps” that now thwart the lives of so many little kids — before they even start!
Mr. Musk and Mr. Jones, please help us here! I for one — and many others — stand ready to work with you on this vital crucial effort.
Thanks for reading,
All the best,
Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA
This was originally posted on Medium
Many thoughtful and concerned people are asking this vital question here in the USA — especially now that we have a new administration in Washington and possibly a new Education Department Secretary, Miguel Cardona. Here are my thoughts –as of now. I’ll write more about this, of course.
As a passionate supporter of public schools since the time I arrived as a nine-year-old immigrant who spoke NO English — on an ocean liner that docked in Hoboken, New Jersey and, within months, was lucky to attend New Jersey’s then wonderful public schools, I know that we need to fix special education without delay. Also ask any superintendent!
Let’s start here. Today’s headlines tell us three very critical and disturbing facts about our public schools.
First, public school student enrollment is down — across the board, with special declines at kindergarten levels. Many parents are not sending their children to school. Instead, they are seeking and creating other options for them.
Second, state and local funding for public education is far down. All those businesses that were forced to close because of the pandemic, all the stay-at-home orders are leading to less tax revenue. In fact, instead of contributing to the general fund, many businesses are receiving funds from public sources. While the federal government may (and probably will) pour new dollars into public schools, those dollars come with strings attached and will not make up for the lack of local public funding. This is very troubling, especially as even before the pandemic, there was already some movement toward less support for public schools for all children.
Third, the teacher shortage has gotten worse, especially among special education teachers. The stress and tensions of the job do not help.
This is clearly a time of turmoil, a time that nominated Secretary Cardona urges that we “forge opportunity out of crisis.”
So, what’s happening in special education? Special education is the federal program for students with disabilities, enacted in 1975 as the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). Today, that law provides services for some 14% of US students. The costs? It’s hard to estimate, as Congress has not demanded an accounting. By estimates, the costs for special education services are around 21% of school budgets and for educating students with disabilities — accounting for both the general and special education services they receive –estimated at 40% of school budgets. Think about that!
If we are concerned about meeting public needs in public education, as I am, I believe that we must put the special education program on the agenda. Yet, a recent Education Week report, tracking Cardona’s views on education, highlighted five issues — Reopening Schools, Charter Schools, High-Stakes Testing, English-Learners and Students of Color, and Teachers & Unions. Not a word about special education ! I do believe this is a missed opportunity that we must correct! Where Biden’s Choice for Education Secretary Stands on Key K-12 Issues (edweek.org)
Even in these dire times, it appears that burdensome bureaucratic requirements continue and have not budged. As well, special education lawsuits continue — both in reality and as in the constant fear of litigation. A brief discussion with a data analyst revealed that nothing has changed in the regulatory space — the same numbers are still being crunched as in pre-pandemic days. As well, my quick informal inquiry about the types of lawsuits that are typically being brought now illustrates the essence of our overwhelming challenge: Whither special education after the pandemic?
The first type of lawsuit grows out of the reality that many school districts now serve only the most vulnerable students in person — students with disabilities who have severe or profound needs — while most students are remote. Not surprisingly, parents of children with milder needs are bringing claims to have their child in school also — claiming that the child is more disabled than the district had determined.
The second type of lawsuit concerns compensatory education — the lawsuits we’ve been expecting. Such lawsuits attempt to make up for services, skills and knowledge lost during the pandemic. It is true beyond doubt that many students with disabilities have suffered learning loss and that many services were not provided. Therefore, these claims will generally prevail.
But, a fact overlooked often in our discussions about special education is that such types of loss are also true for many general education students, especially poor, non-English speakers, homeless, etc. The press excitedly reports the rise in F’s across the country and the fact that many students have dropped away — not logging into remote learning at all! Houston, we have a huge problem!
Yet, only students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) under the IDEA are entitled by law to compensatory education. Phyllis Wolfram, the executive director of the Council of Administrators of Special Education warns that if we pay all compensatory services that may be owed to students with disabilities, “It would break the system of public education.” Think about that! Is that what we want for any or all of our children and our public schools?
What is the essence cited above? Special education, the entitlement law of rights through the labeling of a small group of students — can expect that small group to continue to expand until the system breaks down. As I see it, we are there now — at system breakdown.
In many ways, the law of good intentions has grown beyond recognition since 1975 — and become ever more expansive in terms of the student labels that it now includes, ever more costly and complex — all the while with questionable success for the students it serve. And, I daresay, intrusive on the continued effective functioning of public schools for all students. Yet, it’s often the third rail — not discussed in polite company!
What to do instead? Here’s a controversial path forward. It is time to acknowledge the obvious so that we can create a sensible path forward. During this pandemic, many school districts worked within the reality that there are in essence, two groups of students with disabilities –the vast majority who have mild/moderate needs (who make up 80–90% of the students covered by this law), and those with profound/severe needs (who make up 10–20% of the students covered by this law). Many schools serve just this latter, smaller group in person. This division also tracks the 2017 Supreme Court decision, Endrew F. v Douglas County. We do have two distinct groups of students with disabilities with very different needs — yet still served under this one complex (and yes, burdensome) law. The fit is not great. One size law no longer fits all. What can we do about that?
The pandemic has also exposed the fact that the vast majority of students with disabilities — the 80–90% — who have mild and moderate needs and their general education peers (especially students who struggle in school), surprisingly, are in rather similar straits now. The gaps among these groups have widened; many students have fallen behind — in both groups. Many have been underserved, to say the least.
A solution? These students need schools to more than ever — to provide better general education. Better teaching. Better instruction. More focused lessons. Personalized as needed. These students need education more than they need “special” education.
Luckily, we have superb models. Please check out competency based education (CBE), as practiced in Westminster Colorado. — Where Education is Personal. https://www.westminsterpublicschools.org/cbswps. And see, in general, the Aurora Institute. https://aurora-institute.org/our-work/competencyworks/competency-based-education/
Another successful model is the “Reading Guarantee” — whereby schools guarantee that every student is able to read and to keep at it until success is achieved. Please check out Nate Levenson’s work and his new book, Six Shifts to Improve Special Education. Since most students with mild or moderate disabilities enter the system because they did not learn to read, this approach is promising. Be direct. Teach reading so these students can fly!
There are many other promising models and fabulous professionals working across our nation for all students who need our support. As I see it, the special education law should no longer include these 80–90% of students as the system has become dysfunctional — and is oven not helpful for the students it seeks to help. The law and its bureaucracy are still way too much about inputs and not enough about outcomes. For example, labeling a student in order to serve him is often not helpful — in fact, it damages many. See, for example, Kalman Hettleman’s writings. https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/op-ed/bs-ed-op-0326-special-education-20190320-story.html. Far better for them — along with their general education peers — to get the best possible general education services as quickly as possible.
For the 10–20% of students with severe or profound needs — yes, law’s entitlement should remain in place. Perhaps a task force of all stakeholders can develop a better way forward — that focuses on appropriate education more than compliance or legal procedures.
This need is huge, as I see it. If we don’t fix this, our public schools are in peril. Special education needs to be on that list of issues of concern in the new Biden administration. It can no longer be treated as a third rail.
If it’s not, we’ll see more parents exit as they believe that efforts by schools do not focus on their children. We’ll see less public support for public education. Already, those trends have started. Ultimately, my fear is that broken policies that keep on keeping on and don’t focus on ALL students will leave our public schools evermore for the have nots, the students who can’t leave. Such a development would be tragic — as public education is the backbone of our democratic republic. We need a new model that will make the current old one obsolete, to quote Buckminster Fuller. I’ve set out one controversial path. What is your path?
As a passionate supporter of public education, I see the pandemic as the opportunity to finally fix our very broken system and build schools that can work for all students. Our nation needs that now more than ever. I stand ready to help the Biden administration and Mr. Cardona — as do many of my colleagues and supporters. This matters!
This was originally posted on Medium
Many, many thoughtful and concerned people are asking this vital question. Let me set my thoughts –as of right now. I’ll write more about this, of course.
Here’s today’s conversation starter.
Today’s headlines tell us two very critical and disturbing facts about our public schools.
First, that student enrollment is down — across the board, with special declines at kindergarten levels. Parents are not sending their children to school. They are seeking and creating other options for them.
Second, that funding for public education is far down. All those businesses that were forced to close because of the pandemic, all the stay-at-home orders are leading to less tax revenue — in fact, many businesses are, instead of contributing to the general funds, receiving funds from public sources. As a result, funding for public schools is less available. And… pre-pandemic, there was already some movement toward less support for public schools CITE! For all children.
So in this time of turmoil, what is happening in special education? Special education is the federal program for students with disabilities that started in 1975 at the federal level with the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). Today, that law provides services for some 14% of US students. The costs? It’s hard to estimate, as, to date, Congress has not demanded an accounting. So, by estimates, the costs for special education services are around 21% of school budgets and for educating students with disabilities — accounting for both the general and special education services they receive –are estimated at 40% of school budgets. Think about that!
Yet, even in these dire times, it appears that special education lawsuits continue and that bureaucratic requirements have not budged. A brief discussion with a data analyst revealed that nothing has changed — the same numbers are still being crunched as in pre-pandemic days. As well, my quick informal inquiry about the two types of lawsuits that are typically being brought now illustrates for me the essence of our overwhelming challenge: Whither special education after the pandemic?
The first type of lawsuit grows out of the reality that many school districts now serve only the neediest students in person — while keeping most students are remote. Not surprisingly, parents of children with milder needs are bringing claims to have their child in school also — claiming that the child is more disabled than the district had determined.
The second type of lawsuit concerns compensatory education — the lawsuits we’ve been expecting. Such lawsuits attempt to make up for lost services and lost skills and knowledge during the pandemic. It is clear beyond doubt that many students with disabilities have suffered learning loss and that many services were not provided. Undoubtedly true. Therefore, these are generally claims that will prevail!
But, a fact overlooked too often in our discussions about special education, is that such types of loss are also true for many general education students, especially poor, non-English speakers, homeless, etc. Yet, only students with IEPs are entitled by law to compensatory education. Phyllis Wolfram, the executive director of CASE — the Council of Administrators of Special Education — warns that if we pay all compensatory services that may be owed to students with disabilities, “It would break the system of public education.” Think about that! Is that what we want for any or all of our children?
What is the essence I cited above? Special education, the law of rights through the labeling of a small group of students as entitled under that law — can expect that group to ever expand until the system breaks down. As I see it, we are there now.
In many ways, the law of good intentions has grown beyond recognition since 1975 — and become ever more expansive in terms of the student labels that it now includes, costly, complex — and I daresay, intrusive on the continued effective functioning for our schools for all students.
What to do instead? I suggest we return to a sensible program by acknowledging the obvious. Even during this pandemic, many school districts acknowledged that there are in essence, two groups of students with disabilities –those with mild/moderate needs (who make up 80–90% of the students covered by this law, and those with profound/severe needs (who make up 10–20% of the students covered by this law). Schools have started to serve this latter, smaller group in person. This division also tracks the 2017 Supreme Court decision, Endrew F. v Douglas County. We do have two distinct groups of students with disabilities — now served under this one law. The fit is not great. We need to do something about that!
I believe that we should consider that the vast majority of students with disabilities with mild and moderate needs, and general education students, need schools to more than ever — provide better general education. Better teaching. More focused lessons. Personalized as needed. These students need education more than they need “special” education.
Luckily, we have some superb models. Please check out competency based education, as practiced in Westminster Colorado. — Where Education is Personal. https://www.westminsterpublicschools.org/cbswps. And see, in general, the Aurora Institute. https://aurora-institute.org/our-work/competencyworks/competency-based-education/
Another model is the reading contract — whereby schools promise to get everyone to read and to keep at it until success is achieved. Please check out Nate Levenson’s work and his new book, Six Shifts to Improve Special Education. Since most students with mild or moderate disabilities enter the system because they did not learn to read, this approach is promising. Be direct. Teach reading!
There are many other promising models and fabulous professionals working across our nation for all students. They need our support. As I see it, the special education law should no longer include these students as the system has become dysfunctional — and is not even helpful for the students it seeks to help. See, for example, the fact that labeling a student in order to serve him — is not helpful — in fact, damaging to many. It’s time for them, as well as all students to get the best general education services possible. See, for example, Kalman Hettleman’s writings. https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/op-ed/bs-ed-op-0326-special-education-20190320-story.html
For the 10–20% of students with severe or profound needs — yes, our society owes them an appropriate education. Perhaps a task force of all stakeholders can develop a better way forward — that focuses on appropriate education more than compliance or legal procedures.
If we don’t fix this, I see our public schools imperiled. We’ll see more parents exit. We’ll see less public support for public education. Already, those trends have started. Ultimately, my fear is that broken policies that keep on keeping on and don’t focus on ALL students will leave our public schools evermore for the have nots. Such a development would be tragic — as public education is the backbone of our democratic republic. We need a new model that will make the current one obsolete, to quote Buckminster Fuller. I’ve set out one controversial path. What is your path?
As a passionate supporter of public education, I see the pandemic as the opportunity to finally fix our very broken system and build schools that can work for all students. Our nation needs that now more than ever.
After the pandemic: whither special education? What do you think? Your thoughts? Your plan? Your suggestion? I’d love to hear!
This was originally posted on Medium
The untimely death of Professor Clayton Christensen at the age of 67 has jarred many of us. He was truly an amazing and influential innovator and disrupter.
I consider myself lucky because I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Christensen at his presentation in Boston many years ago — speaking about education. He was very clear and inspiring, and I’ve continued to follow him from a distance ever since.
I’d like to share some of his thoughts on the limits of data. We in education are directed to collect data, data, data. Our governments demand it. We’ve absorbed the call that is in the air everywhere. We’re supposed to gather data to — we are told — prove our methods and thereby, improve student outcomes.
We mourn the death of Clayton Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor who is known as the disrupter — a management guru who assisted so many companies to create anew — many in Silicon Valley credit him for their success. See tributes by Bill Gates and Stephen Jobs, for instance.
And yet, Christensen questioned the primacy and continued piling on — of data. As I read and listened to his two short presentations at the Drucker Forum in 2014 and 2016 — I was so moved and amazed.
While, like many, I’ve taken the idea of data collection as a given, here’s a disrupter who dared to question it and where it’s leading us and which opportunities we are missing. Take a listen. You’ll be glad you did.
Here’s part of
The 12th Annual Global Peter Drucker Forum honored him, as written below.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Clayton Christensen.
He was a towering figure — intellectually, morally and physically. We had the enormous privilege to have him as a supporter, mentor and friend of the Drucker Forum. As Steve Blank puts it, we all stood on Clay’s shoulders….
…… Clay spoke at the Forum in both 2014 and 2016, and had planned to be back in 2018. Sadly, as his health declined that became impossible. You will find videos of his memorable presentations and discussions below. These are historic documents, yet hold absolute relevance for today and for future Drucker Forums. At the 2020 Forum, we will continue the celebration of his life by adding our own recognition of the immense value he brought to management thought and practice.
Our thoughts of condolence go most deeply to his wife, Christine, and his children.”
Richard Straub, Founder & President
Angelica Kohlmann, Chair of the International Advisory Board
Global Peter Drucker Forum
Now back to me….
Here are two of the clips that the Drucker Forum provided which deal iwth the limits of data.
Data collection is a vital issue for those of us who toil in the public school arena –as we are pushed to collect more data and to create programs driven by data. Really? Please share these clips with colleagues who work in schools and who create programs for schools. I believe you’ll be glad you listened to them.
In so doing, we’ll be honoring the memory and legacy of Clayton Christensen.
Innovation and Growth
“Growth comes from (disruptive) innovation and the link between the two is investment” … and how misguided metrics thwart growth. Watch the video.
The Limits of Data
“Data was not created by God. Data is a representation of a phenomenon, but the data is not the phenomenon” … and why that should make you desperate for theory. Watch the video.
This was originally posted on Medium
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