Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Steve Hansen: State and federal planners are out of touch with schools

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Monday, June 23, 2014 11:15 pm

So what’s wrong with centralized planning for public schools?

Nothing, except legislators who mandate these decrees are often out of touch with daily struggles of classroom teachers.

Case in point: Several years ago, I coordinated a special education program for a comprehensive high school. The services were quite elaborate, ranging from those for students with severe intellectual developmental disorders, to those for students with average abilities coupled with specific learning issues. Kids with major emotional disturbances were another part of the mix. Fourteen teachers and several classroom aides served in the program.

It was almost a full-time job just keeping up with the latest court cases, laws, regulations and procedures. But it wasn’t always that way.

Back in the mid-’70s, when these programs began with federal legislation known as Public Law 94-142, a student IEP, or Individualized Education Program, covered about two pages. When I left, it was 30 pages and growing. In order to please a variety of government overseers, most special education teachers spend 20 to 30 percent of their workweek filling out IEP paperwork and participating in mandatory meetings.

One day, I was asked to attend a conference in an area of special education created by legislation and regulation. The themes were “BIPs” (Behavioral Intervention Plans) and “FBAs” (Functional Behavioral Assessments) — a more elaborate version of the basic behavior plan.

The idea behind these mandates is that all behavioral problems in schools can be solved effectively by calling a meeting with a variety of folks who have interests in a specific student’s undesirable conduct. This committee defines the underlying cause of the problem, and formulates a plan for modification.

A four-star hotel ballroom was the site of the conference. More than 150 coordinators, administrators, school psychologists and teachers from a number of school districts attended the event. We sat at round dining tables equipped with water pitchers and white tablecloths.

It began sharply at 9 a.m. An obsessive-compulsive, middle-aged lady — wearing a nicely tailored gray suit — entered the scene and began the presentation. She had all the latest equipment and charts — including HyperStudio, of course. She started with a comment about how fortunate we were to live in California and then launched into a sleep-inducing three-hour lecture.

Some examples of common behavioral problems were discussed. But mostly, it was a lesson in procedures as to how to fill out forms for behavioral problems that will please the higher-ups — along with ever-menacing attorneys and self-appointed student advocates found in every school district.

Just before the break at 10:15 a.m., I looked around the room and noticed heads falling and eyes drooping. Age and gender made no difference. Some were doodling, while others were reading unrelated materials. Still others looked at their timepieces — hoping the noon hour would magically arrive sooner than expected.

Finally, it was 11:58 a.m.

The instructor made an announcement: “Well, I see we have two minutes until we break for lunch that has been prepared for you.” (She pointed to the long table of goodies along the east wall of the room.)

“Now, I’m going to dismiss you by tables so we all don’t run up there at once,” the dark-haired woman stated with a nervous giggle. “I’ll start with table one.”

At that moment, I got up from table 14 and headed for the “eats.”

“Sir? Sir?” as she looked me while speaking into a microphone. “I’m dismissing by tables.”

In my usual rebellious mode, I yelled back, “Write me a behavior plan!” and continued on my hunger-relieving journey.

The whole place erupted in uncontrollable laughter.

Was it because of my comment or something more serious? A guess is my unorthodox response reflected the frustration of the participants. They were all on the frontlines dealing with daily pupil deportment. They knew filling out mounds of paper was not going to solve many of their students’ behavioral issues.

From this story, you can see a problem that lies with centralized planning. Policies in far-away government offices — created by folks with six-figure salaries to please their masters — may or may not have merit in the actual world.

As well-meaning as intentions might be, often these fanciful folks just don’t seem to “get it.”

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

3 comments:

  • Christina Welch posted at 10:11 pm on Wed, Jul 2, 2014.

    Christina Welch Posts: 368

    I think with the water issue, it's greed. The greed of water brokers and corporate mega farms as well as the greed of politicians looking to build their campaign war chests.

     
  • Ted Lauchland posted at 3:08 pm on Wed, Jul 2, 2014.

    Ted Lauchland Posts: 254

    The schools are not the only ones suffering from state and federal planners.

    Water users that have water are going to suffer as well as those who don't currently have water. Can't farm in a desert - man made or otherwise. Ma nature laughs loudly. Lodi can be a "man made" desert. We are not immune. All done with planners and laws. Money takes the cup right out of your hand. Socialism at it's worse or socialism at it's best ? Or , is it free enterprise at it's greediest for the sake of all.

    All I know is that I can not farm without the freedom to do so .

     
  • Christina Welch posted at 9:35 pm on Thu, Jun 26, 2014.

    Christina Welch Posts: 368

    [beam]

     

Recent Comments

Posted 18 hours ago by Christina Welch.

article: Gwin Paden: September’s garden, book se…

Another wonderful column, Ms Paden, and thought-provoking. I am saddened to hear Lodi High doesn't have a newspaper, but I guess that's a …

More...

Posted 21 hours ago by Jerome Kinderman.

article: General Mills announces ‘preliminary de…

Oops, I sure hate it when I get "it's" and "its" mixed up. I chose not to send my previous remarks through the spelling…

More...

Posted 22 hours ago by Jerome Kinderman.

article: General Mills announces ‘preliminary de…

Some call it greed, others call it the decline of a company and maybe others might just think its the way of America these days. Considerin…

More...

Posted 23 hours ago by M. Doyle.

article: General Mills announces ‘preliminary de…

Kevin, this article has absolutely nothing to do with minimum wage hikes. Why you would bring it up here is a mystery. Big plants like th…

More...

Posted 23 hours ago by Doug Chaney.

article: General Mills announces ‘preliminary de…

Welcome to corporate America!

More...

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

Loading…

Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Featured Events

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists