Once again Boulder Valley School District is in the news discussing changes to their special education policy. Boulder public schools work to provide more special-ed in regular classrooms – via the Denver Post
BVSD held a special training session for all their general education teachers. This was to train them to keep special education students in their classrooms. According to the post “hundreds” of teachers were in attendance. I don’t know about you, but the last time I was taught or trained in a room of hundreds of people, I came away with very little knowledge that I found applicable for my own personal situation. Secondly, having done my undergrad in teaching and currently working on my master’s in special education, it will take more than just a few hours to train teachers how to work with kids with special needs.
Furthermore, I might remind my readers who are unfamiliar with the law, but there is already inclusion or mainstreaming, as some call it, in our schools. It was required by IDEA law, long ago, that school’s provide the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) for student learning. However, the regular classroom is not appropriate for all students all the time and I would contend that even for some student’s, ever. It is a relief that BVSD does recognize that LRE does not mean only the regular classroom , yet in the article a representative from the district mentions that special instruction can be done in the regular classroom. I agree that some special education can take place in the regular classroom, however that takes additional resources. The last time I checked, BVSD was “firing” teachers and aids, not hiring more. BVSD is reducing the special education budget for 2010-2011 by over $1 million dollars, according to page 34 of the proposed budget, including the reduction of 5.815 special education teachers and 4.5 paras.
Finally, I wonder how much money BVSD spent to have these specialists come in to train regular classroom teachers. Could that money have been spent to hire additional aids or paras for the classrooms themselves? Will it all be worth the expense or just another thing we tried in the name of reform? The new system will be tested this year and I hope that parents, teachers and others concerned about the state of education will hold these schools accountable to providing the best education choices possible for each student and not just create a system of inclusion for the sake of saying that they do it.