Now, if you’re a parent of a special needs student in CPS, you already know how down-the-rabbit-hole this world feels. You know that you have to push and push and push for the services your child is legally obligated to receive. And you may have noticed that in the last year, you have had to do this so much more that you are close to giving up. Mary Fahey Hughes knows a lot about that and realizes that it is actually a strategy the district depends on. Here’s part two of her post “Fire the Liar” (part one ran yesterday here). You can find Hughes’ other work on special ed practice in CPS, and more parody songs, at her blog Isn’t that Illegal?
CPS RELIES ON STONEWALLING AND EXHAUSTING SPED PARENTS
Under Forrest Claypool’s tenure at CPS, getting and keeping special education services has become extremely difficult, leading to diminishment, delay, and denial of the support our kids need to reach their full potential. Students who have special needs often have only a very small window of time in which to make the gains that can only be achieved through special education. The achievement gap for students with disabilities is real and low-income parents are often without the resources of time, money, and energy to get their children additional help outside of school. Thoughtful, robust special education services can help to make the achievement gap smaller.
Because our students have disabilities, it is impossible to totally eliminate that gap and it is delusional to expect to do so. For example, in lieu of a medical miracle, a 7th grader with an intellectual disability who reads at a 2nd grade level will never, ever, ever be able to achieve a 7th grade reading level as a 7th grader. However, that 7th grader who has an intellectual disability can make gains and progress to achieve a reading level that may lead to employment and an opportunity to live independently as an adult. But under Forrest Claypool’s leadership, parents have heard misleading, delusional language about permanently closing achievement gaps, and yet have seen the roll-out of policies that lead far away from offering real help. Under Forrest Claypool’s leadership, these policies have created a hostile climate related to acquiring appropriate services, staffing, and funding of special education. This climate exhausts parents and disinclines them to keep pushing for services.
LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE
Forrest Claypool is a gaslighter extraordinaire. Month after month at CPS board of education meetings, he pounds away at his tired and false talking points, as parents scream into the void of the unresponsive unelected school board. Though he continues to insist that there is racial and gender bias in CPS special ed identification, he claims that an increase in special education costs and services at a time when there is lower enrollment indicates a problem with the way services are approved. The logical response to this, for him, is that fewer services should be approved.
MEANWHILE, BACK IN REALITY.…
Here’s the thing, Forrest, when per pupil funding means there are 45 3rd graders in a classroom with no assistant or other paraprofessional support, a child with a disability (who may have been able to achieve at an acceptable level in a classroom of 25 students with a teacher and a classroom assistant) is going to need special education services. In other words, in a setting when general ed is subject to bare-bones cuts, the need for special ed services increases rather than decreases. It is your policies and Student Based Budgeting that are responsible for the increase in students identified for special education and, given the number of low-income students who attend CPS, Black and Hispanic boys are actually underidentified for special education! Our kids do not have the luxury to wait until an elected representative school board prioritizes the education of students who have special needs.
Forrest Claypool must go!
Here are some links related to this blog post, if you have the time or inclination to swim in sewage. Thanks for reading.
Thanks to Mary Fahey Hughes for sharing her work. Check out her blog at Isn’t that Illegal? (Pretty sure it is, by the way–all of it.) Get Chicago Public Fools in your inbox every week by subscribing above. Follow me on twitter @foolforcps.
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