Sunday, August 3, 2014

Two Excellent New Laws Approved Despite Common Core Hysteria

New legislation (Acts 833 and 643) Emphasize the Need for A Diverse Curriculum

Fortunately for our special needs students in Louisiana, the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities council fought very hard this legislative session and succeeded in passing groundbreaking legislation offering important new opportunities for our students with disabilities. Act 833 which began as HB 1015, will provide  many students with disabilities an alternative path to promotion and graduation based upon successful completion of IEP goals in the place of high stakes testing and standard graduation requirements. Now Act 833 requires that when certain students with disabilities fail to meet  requirements for promotion in the year prior to a high stakes test, the IEP team for the students may substitute IEP goals in the place of the high stakes tests for student promotion and graduation.

Click here for a link to frequently asked questions at the DD Council website on this new pathway to graduation for our students with disabilities.

This new law, if it is not nullified by the US DOE should allow many more students with disabilities who under old rules would probably have dropped out, the opportunity to graduate with a regular diploma and therefore benefit from continued education or improved employment opportunities.

In addition this year, the Louisiana legislature also adopted Act 643 which improves and broadens the Career Diploma program. According to the legislation and a special initiative which the LDOE refers to as Jump Start, more students will be encouraged to take valuable career prep courses starting this year. Many of these courses will be dual enrollment courses with our community and technical colleges and will lead to industry based certifications for quick job entry. This legislation offers a great alternative to the one-size-fits-all formula of the Common Core.

The need for Act 833 and Act 643 in Louisiana demonstrate why the Common Core standards are such a huge mistake. The theory of the Common Core is that all students can and should be prepared primarily for college by our K-12 schools and that the standards set in Common Core can and should be reached by all. The creators of the Common Core apparently didn't have a clue about the fact that the students we work with are not standard issue. They are all different and instead require flexible standards.

The most tragic mistake of the Common Core developers is that they did not recognize the fact that many students could be much more successful if school standards were varied and flexible to accommodate the many unique talents and interests of the full spectrum of students. Not every student can or should be prepared for four year colleges.  Other modern industrialized countries understand this fact and have provided a much more varied curriculum than the U. S. will provide with Common Core. The American public is being terribly misled by our amateur education leaders who insist that we should only set strictly academic standards for all students.  The problem is since we have a significant number of students for whom the original academic bar was inappropriate and unattainable, it is foolish to set the bar another foot higher and admonish the same students to just try harder. Such impossible and impractical goals simply sets up students and public schools for failure.

I believe that the implementation of Act 833 and the career diploma law will encourage efforts by many parents who object to standardized testing based on the standardized  Common Core curriculum as a requirement for promotion and graduation to seek alternatives for their children. The majority of states do not require the level of high stakes testing required in Louisiana as part of their graduation requirements. Now take a look at what Arne Duncan wants to do to students with disabilities.

Arne Duncan Wants to "Challenge" Students With Disabilities

This article by Peter Green of the Huffington post describes Arne Duncan's recently announced formula for addressing the needs of students with disabilities. Would you be surprised to learn that it has to do with higher expectations and more testing?

In announcing a new emphasis and "major shift," the U.S. Department of Education will now demand that states show educational progress for students with disabilities.

Here is a direct quote from Duncan about getting high performance from students with disabilities:   "We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to a robust curriculum, they excel," Duncan said. (per NPR coverage)"

Green in his analysis observes the following: "I'm pretty sure we don't know any such thing. I'm pretty sure that the special needs students in schools across the country are special needs precisely because they have trouble meeting the usual expectations."

But wait there's more. . . .

Kevin Huffman, education boss of Tennessee (a lawyer with a Teach for America stint as his education background), also chimed in on the Duncan conference call, to explain why disabled students do poorly, and how to fix it.

He said most lag behind because they're not expected to succeed if they're given more demanding schoolwork and because they're seldom tested.

That's it. We should just demand that disabled students should do harder work and take more tests.

If you are a special education teacher, or have a child with disabilities, I hope you will read the entire Peter Green article because it gives us a look at one more absurd policy of our US Dept. of Education under Arne Duncan.

This latest Duncan initiative is an amazingly naive, unbelievably ignorant campaign for producing achievement from students with disabilities. It's simple. Just ignore the disability or the brain damage and expect the student to preform at average or above levels. Duncan is demonstrating once again that we have a total crackpot in charge of our US Department of Education.

There is not one shred of evidence supporting this latest nutty initiative, yet Arne Duncan is actually taken seriously by much of the media as a visionary leader of education.


Anonymous said...

As the parent of a child with autism, I appreciate the recognition that although my child performed poorly on standardized tests while in school, he does have an incredible ability to learn complex topics just as many of us can in an appropriate learning environment and with proper adaptations. Because my son is easily bored with mundane tasks typically required by jobs not requiring a high school diploma, I am thrilled that talented, unique students like my son will have the ability to graduate with a diploma recognizable by employers allowing them to reach their full potential and to become happy productive citizens, which is what they want, just as we all do.

Ali AliM said...

It is very important to give the opportunity to students with certain disabilities. Most of them already feel like they are left outside alone. We need to make sure they feel like that are a part of this world and we do have a lot to offer. Like, study opportunities would be the best beginning. I am glad that students with disabilities will be treated accordingly. The more we treat them like special kids the more they will feel this way. We need to take of them. If the class has to write an essay 5 page long (find out more online), then there should be no exception. A little extra help; of course!

Terrie wright said...

I have a child with cognitive and developmental disability. My concern is who us looking out for her best interest. There is so much I winder about when it comes to her education. We get the kids that has everything it takes to succeed any place and anywhere. What about the child that is having a difficult time. What do we do for them. Their educational needs has to be considered.