The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

Blog Rules

Comments should be respectful and pertain to the topic posted. Comments about personnel matters should be made directly to the administrators responsible. Blog moderators reserve the right to remove any comment determined not in keeping with these guidelines.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The challenges we face in educating ALL children


I think one of the most endearing (and yes - challenging) things about America's public schooling philosophy is our desire to educate every child.

A person recently told me that her grandchildren are attending a rural school in China. There are certain tests they take and if the students do poorly, they are not allowed to come back. How is that for "high stakes testing?"

In the American system, right or wrong (it's ok to debate it!) schools are expected to take most of the responsibility for adjusting to the students needs. Americans will never tolerate a system that is designed to shut doors for students - and then lock them out.

Wawasee's teachers for some time have been discussing the trend of seeing more and more children with greater educational needs coming through the schoolhouse doors. The numbers back them up.

The graph below shows a 36% increase in students with special education needs since 2002/2003. The breakdown in numbers shows that the increases are in special education areas where the needs are the most serious.

Special Education Preschool: 17 students to 46 students (170% increase)
Developmental Delays: 8 students to 17 students (112% increase)
Learning Disabilities: 163 students to 159 students (2 % decrease)
Emotional Disabilities: 34 students to 86 students (153% increase)
Communication Disabilities: 115 students to 181 students (57% increase)
Autism: 11 students to 25 students (127% increase)

TOTAL Number of Students with special needs: 489 students

The state average for identified students with special needs is 17.9%. Wawasee's overall average is still under the average at 14.8%

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is there any irony that the increases occurred at the same time as you developed a relationship with a Mental Health Center? In order for claims for payment to be made, a diagnosis must occur. I think Wawasee School System is riding the cash cow that the Mental Health Centers have been milking for years. Thanks tax payers...thank me. The other ironic fact is that schools are maintaining that they cannot control for family dysfunctions, yet they will 'diagnose' and gain financially by these same children. Things that make you go hmmmmm...

Anonymous said...

I have to say I think Wawasee is doing a great job with their special education.:) No, I'm not a teacher, but a mom who has been dealing with the sped dept for quite a few years now. I personally don't see where anyone thinks that Wawasee is being like Dumb & Dumberer and just testing to get funding. That just cracks me up and makes me wander if the above person deals with special ed. I guess you have a lot to learn about just how much our lovely government actually pays for special needs students.

To all of the special needs teachers, paras and to Mrs. Hite, you are doing a great job. I feel pleased with the major improvements I've seen from my son since starting school. I hope it's ok that I do this, but I have to really praise Miss Huston for being so great with the kids. Not only the kids, but she is so awesome at making us parents feel very well informed and always there to listen to any concerns. She has taught me a lot and is great at being a team player to make sure we're working together at home and school to help the kids.:-)

Dr. Mark J. Stock said...

If there is a cash cow somewhere it must be providing only skim milk.

When special education laws were passed by the federal government years ago, the feds promised to fund 40% of the total cost. Most estimates show the feds never coughed up more than 17%. The rest of the expenses were born by the states or passed on to the locals through each state's funding laws.

Case Conference Committees (parents and educators together) determine the IEP (Individual Education Plan) for each child. Those agreed upon student needs drive the programming decisions for tutoring,counseling and other services. Nothing more - nothing less.

Anonymous said...

My experience with Wawasee teachers is that they work hard with the special needs of these students. Obviously there are many and varied challenges. Results are not always satisfactory, but there are small victories along the way. These victories should be celebrated!

Anonymous said...

I am incredibly disappointed that someone would post an anonymous blog comment alleging that Wawasee would diagnose children as needing special education services based on "irony."

Unbelievable! If you have evidence that such a thing is taking place, contact Dr. Stock. He makes it really easy to contact him, so there is absolutely no excuse.

I can't believe that someone could look our special education teachers and other staff in the eye and make a reprehensible accusation that students are diagnosed as needing services simply for financial gain.

This poster will absolutely not "thank you". You are totally out of line.

Anonymous said...

It's astonishing to think that there is some hidden agenda or a link between the number of students in special education and our new mental health center. That's just ignorance. I'd love to know where the cash cow is in education- especially in special education.

Many other districts pay their special education teachers extra pay because of the additional time, duties, paperwork that they have in addition to traditional duties. This isn't to say that special educators are valued more than other educators; their time is simply being awknowledged. Most of us know that special educators can not do their jobs by sticking only to the contractual time limits. However, Wawasee is not a district that compensates it's special education teachers with an extra allowance or stipend. They are paid the same as any other educator with similar education and experience.

Kudos to the special education teachers at Wawasee for doing an exceptional job! Maybe one day the Wawasee Corp and the public will appreciate and awknowledge what a fabulous job you do.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Stock has documented that more students are being IDENTIFIED as special education. Nothing more. Nothing less. If you actually believe that special needs are rising that quickly, then I have two simple options for you:

1) Go to your boss tomorrow and ask that all future paychecks be turned over immediately to some branch of government. Clearly you do not have the sense to manage your own money, so you deserve to be parted from it.

OR

2) Move immediately! Either the water you are drinking or some other local contaminate is destroying your community. Get out quick! For that is the only possible reason that special needs could have genuinely risen that quickly.

There are countless reasons why special needs IDENTIFICATIONS could have gone up. Unless your town is under grave, grave danger, then there is NOT reason to believe that actual problems have gone up.

Wake up people.

Dr. Mark J. Stock said...

????

I think you need to talk with some teachers in the trenches in OUR community about what THEY see. It is clear from your comments that you aren't well acquainted with our community.

A majority of them will likely tell you that the numbers speak for themselves.

No one has offered any proposed reasons other than you - and I don't think contaminated drinking water will fly. LoL

Anonymous said...

Boy, now I am real curious as to how old the poster above Mr Stock's comment is. Did you grow up when special needs had no rights? The difference is, nowadays, kids aren't just labeled 'retarded' because they're different or mentally challenged and put away in some instituation.
I think you need to take the time to read and find out more about exactly what it takes to prove a child needy for services.
The school can't just label a kid and say, "Ok, there's another one, cha ching, more money in our pockets". LOL!! I pray that you are never blessed with a special needs child or grandchild. I'd hate to see you have to use government money.:-P For the record, my child may be in special education, but you want to know something? I pay textbook fees just the same as any other parent so that my child can be educated. So please tell me, how is that YOUR paycheck paying for my child's schooling?!

Anonymous said...

OOPS, I just realized I misspelled institution above. :-p

Anonymous said...

It seems Anonymous 1/18/2007 needs a short course in diagnostics. Students identified as having special needs are not given a diagnosis by the school. They are merely identified as having an Emotional Disability, a Learning Disability, a Visual Impairment, etc. A mental illness must be diagnosed according to the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders. School personnel do not use this manual when establishing whether a student is identified as having special needs. Mental Health Centers do have to give clients a diagnosis in order to bill insurance companies and Medicaid. They also have to do a ton of assessments and paperwork to support this diagnosis. Medicaid has rigorous standards in place so that Mental Health Centers cannot take advantage of the system. They also do an audit periodically and if a mental health center is found to be noncompliant with these standards, they have to refund the money that was allocated for their clients. In reality most Mental Health Centers in our state are losing money. That is why so many centers are closing their doors or not serving the Medicaid population. But I digress. The point is that serving those with a mental illness is not a money-maker for anyone, least of all Wawasee schools. I believe it is appropo to use a bovine reference here, but it has more to do with bull on your part than cash cow on Wawasee's.

Anonymous said...

What about the teachers who are ADHD, ADD, why doesn't the nurse have their medications in her office? Why are they different than the students, because they are adults, I'm not buying that.