Families with kids with special needs should be concerned about Question 2

This post gets to the heart of why I am against charter school expansion. It’s a little long and kind of wonkish. It’s not as dramatic as some of my other posts. But I really feel the need to explain in as sober a way as possible why I feel that voters should reject Question 2.

When discussing Question 2, we do not hear a lot from families with special needs even though I believe they could be severely impacted by the passage of this question. I do not believe that their needs have been taken into account as we weigh this issue.

My essential concern is that we are bifurcating our school system into two systems. One system is well funded and the other struggles to provide the same level of services every year. The struggling system is the one that is responsible for educating most of the children, and the children with the most serious needs.

Now I hear your unasked question. Don’t charters serve the same number of kids with IEPs?

Here is where it is important to parse the data.

Using flat percentages across the state, yes, they have roughly the same percentages of kids with IEPs. But you have to look at the data.

In urban schools, we are serving SPED students at a higher rate:

Boston: 25% more kids with IEPs are served in BPS than charters.

In Lawrence and Salem, 75% more kids with IEPS are in the district schools than in charters, and in Worcester and Chicopee, 50% more kids on IEPs are in the district schools.

Most children on IEPs in charters have either a communications impairment (meaning they need speech) or a specific learning disability (meaning they have an issue with a specific subject like math).

Traditional public schools are serving the kids with the highest needs. We have nearly twice the number of autistic kids, kids that are developmentally delayed, and have intellectual disabilities.

Traditional schools serve nearly all of the blind, deaf, and kids with neurological impairments or physical impairments.

Also, charter schools have all of their IEP kids in either inclusion or partial inclusion settings.

Traditional schools have sub separate programs that serve 10% of our IEP kids. These are the kids who are not able to be integrated at all into a regular classroom.

So yes, flat percentages, they serve an equal amount. But traditional public schools serve the kids with the highest needs.

But these are the most important statistics. You can find them here:

https://www.masc.org/images/news/2015/20151013_MASC_Charter-Schools_Who-Is-Being-Served_opt.pdf

I think this is something the public needs to understand. Charter schools work for some kids but certainly not all kids. They work well for kids who have a supportive family environment and they work well for kids who are able to modify their behavior to meet the charters’ strict discipline codes.

But there are some children who will never ever be able to function in a charter environment. So what we really are doing is resegregating our schools. Maybe it isn’t along racial lines but we are sorting our children into a system of winners and losers.

And I hear your next question. But isn’t charter school admittance by lottery? Couldn’t the special needs kids just sign up?

Sure, you can enter your child. But if their disability interferes with their ability to conform, they won’t be able to stay.

I’ve embedded a video from a father who tells his story of his kids experience in a Massachusetts charter school. I have posted the video with this father’s permission.

It is just one story but it was one that I heard again and again when I was working as a parent advocate. It was one of the reasons why I became so alarmed at the growth of the charter school sector.

The children who are in charters do not have more potential than the children in regular public schools. Their education shouldn’t be favored just because a parent entered their name into a lottery.

It is wrong of us to decide that we only need to educate some of the children. We as a society have a responsibility to educate all of the children. We should not be siphoning off funds and setting up a small portion of our kids on a path to success while neglecting the rest. All children have a right to an education. And we cannot abdicate that duty.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Families with kids with special needs should be concerned about Question 2

  1. Great piece. Not only do charters not serve the same number of high needs students with low incidence or multiple impairments (have yet to see a charter with a class of children with severe multiple impairments of whom many use wheelchairs). Another population that is underserved by charters are children who are homeless. BPS works with upwards of 4,000 homeless children (might be higher?).

    Like

  2. Awesomely wonkish-and passionate too! NYT has stupid editorial today chastising NAACP for charter moratorium. Some of this should be made into a letter and sent to them!

    Like

  3. Great post. I still recall the founder of a local charter school, who at a Boston Compact meeting (proposed combined charter/public enrollment system) stated that he thought blind and visually impaired students were generally enrolled in “special schools” and not mainstreamed! Nope.

    Like

  4. I too am fighting for my children’s education. I live in a nice house with a terrible school district. My nearest charger is nearly an hour away and we have been on the waiting list/lottery for four years . There are 32,000 children in Massachusetts waiting to get into a charter. The Boston Globe and Department of Education have debunked that charters take away funding from public schools. we are not going to force your child on an IEP to go to a charter. However since they are limited and over wrought with demand how are they to at this point have been able to meet the demand for children who are differently abled. Release the pressure on both school concepts and you will see growth among them both. Don’t deny my child out of your own fear. Please vote yes for question two. Please.

    Like

    1. I am voting no. It is not out of fear. It is out of a sense of fairness. The Boston School Committee report stated that if Question 2 passes, 45 Boston Public Schools will close in 12 years. That means that the most vulnerable kids will be in the district that is being disrupted.

      I read the Massachusetts Taxpayer Association report. But what it did not say was how the funding hurts the individual school districts. It was a high level report that did not take into account the fact that the city has diverted funds to make up what was lost to the charters. That is why our pro charter mayor is against Question 2. It will hurt more children than it helps.

      Like

    2. I’m puzzled that you live in a terrible district with no charters nearby. Charters are generally centered in districts that are the lower performing districts. The waitlists are not accurate, as the have duplicate names and names left on the lists for years. 2 will hurt the schools in my district and hurt the substantially separate students that I serve. I’m voting no on 2.

      Like

  5. Hi Mary, thank you so much for your thoughtful approach and analysis on this important topic.

    There have been times in our nations history where our educational system argued separate and equal Chris’ there have been times in our nations history where some educational systems separate children based on personal characteristics. Back then, they did it honestly. That is a key difference between then and now.

    I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you were bringing the message forward and protection of the children in the state who are among the most vulnerable.

    Thank you again, Mike
    (the guy in the embedded video)

    Like

  6. During the next month leading up to Tuesday, November 8, as you see or listen to the slick and expensive Madison-Avenue-level TV/radio commercials promoting “YES” on Question 2 promulgating such lies as …

    “Question 2 will add more money to public schools (LIE: it won’t. In fact it will do just the opposite.

    or

    “Question 2 won’t take money away from existing public schools (LIE: it will… a lot of money, in fact.)

    … or when view the slick mailers you find in your mailbox, or when listen to robo-calls, think about this following post about EXACTLY WHO is paying for those ads:

    The latest is that over $21.7 million of out-of-state money from the most ruthless capitalists who have ever walked the Earth — Eli Broad, the Walton family of Walmart, Wall Street hedge fund managers, etc. — is pouring into Massachusetts to pass Question 2.

    Read this well-researched article here for that $21.7 million figure:

    https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2016/10/05/ma-question-2-funding-hits-21-7-million/

    These profit-minded plutocrats who are pouring in this money obviously …

    — do not live in Massachusetts,

    — have no children, grandchildren, or other relatives that attend public

    schools in Massachusetts

    — have never given a sh#% about the education of middle or lower income until recently, when they realized they could make a buck off privatizing Massachusetts schools via the expansion of privately-run charter schools,.

    They want to these corporate charter schools to replace truly public schools — the ones that, for generations, have been accountable and transparent to the public via democratically elected school boards, and which are mandated to educate ALL of the public… including those hardest or most difficult to educate … special ed., English Language Learners, homeless kids, foster care kids, kids with difficult behavior arising from distressed home lives.

    Are proponents of Question 2 seriously making the argument that out-of-state billionaires and Wall Street hedge fund managers are pumping in all this money because those folks care so much about the education of kids in Massachusetts?

    You really think they are NOT seeking a big money return on these ($21.7 million campaign donations?

    Does that pass the smell test?

    Can you provide an example of JUST ONE TIME in the past where they poured in this kind of cash to something … no strings attached, and with no expectations of return?

    If, as Q 2 supporters like Marty Walz claim, the most ruthless capitalists that have ever walked the Earth are now kicking in this kind of cash to pass Question 2 merely because they care about children’s education —

    … and if they are not about their profiting through the privatization of public schools brought about by the expansion of privately-run charter schools,

    … then I’m sure one of you Q 2 supporters could google and find a past example where they have done something similar .. .again out of generosity… with no expectation of an eventual monetary return…

    Something like …

    “Well, back in 2000-something, or 1900-something, these same folks donated $20 million to the (INSERT CHARITABLE CAUSE HERE). Here’s the link that proves this.”

    No, I didn’t think so. When this was brought up in a debate, Mary Walz refused to address it, saying, “We need to talk about the kids, not the adults.” Well, keeping money-motivated scum from raping and pillaging Massachusetts public schools IS CARING ABOUT THE KIDS, Marty! (By the way, those are many of the same folks who raped and pillaged the housing/mortgage industry a decade ago … go watch the film THE BIG SHORT to get up to speed on that … they’re just moved on to new place to plunder.)

    So the real question is:

    To whom do the schools of Massachusetts belong? The citizens and parents who pay the taxes there?

    Or a bunch of money-motivated out-of-state billionaires and Wall Street hedge fund managers who are trying to buy them via Question 2, and the expansion of privately-managed charter schools which they control, or also profit from their on-line and digital learning products that will be sold to these charter school chains?

    If you believe the former, THEN FOR GOD’S SAKE, VOTE “NO” ON QUESTION 2.

    Send them a message: Massachusetts schools are NOT FOR SALE!!!

    Oh and go watch the John Oliver charter school video:

    Oh and listen to this dissection of a “YES on 2” radio ad:

    http://wrsi.com/monte/dissecting-the-great-schools-massachusetts-ad-on-question-2/

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s