Special education has become a flashpoint in , and one point in particular has truly struck a nerve.
in recent weeks have been urging the administration to reinstitute resource centers at and middle schools, which they said is important to help their special education children meet their needs.
say the lack of resource centers has an adverse impact on regular and special education students alike and could be brought up at the bargaining table when both sides talk again tonight with the assistance of a federal mediator.
And the District 109 administration said that they while there have been issues implementing how this resource is carried out, they say it has the potential to provide the services that students need.
Patch wants to know if our readers think this should be part of the negotiations and we've created another unscientific poll to gauge community opinion. Readers of some of Patch’s previous stories have been posting their ideas on the subject in the comments section. Results will be posted on Friday.
Here’s a bit of background:
Up until last year, prescribed times had been set aside during the school day at both middle schools for students to go to resource centers. Teachers worked in small groups so special needs children could better grasp concepts that can be applied to all of their school work.
All of this work is related to a student’s individualized education program, a specific roadmap that each child with special needs has that will help them learn more effectively.
Now middle school special education students are pulled out of classes for resource at different points in the day, in what the administration calls the flex model. How this is determined for each student is based on a particular activity during the day and matched to student needs; the best place for those students to receive that instruction is determine, Supt. Renee Goier said. The time in and out of resource are determined by the student’s IEP.
She said once they get input from staff and families, they will be able to work out any difficulties they've had. "We are making sure that they get the support they need," she said. "This program will change over time."
But what’s going to be the best successful for students is for a reinstitution of a number of daily resource periods where a staff member can be assigned, said Dennis Jensen, president of the Deerfield Education Assn., the teacher's union. Because this is a matter that affects working conditions, it may be part of a union counter-proposal.
The next session with a federal mediator is scheduled for tonight. Teachers have been working without a contract since August; a mediator was called in since late last fall.
The impact of the administration's new program has had a far-reaching on staff, students - and parents, Jensen said.
“We cannot bargain for the students, parents have to be their advocates. But not having resource rooms has an impact on the regular education classrooms. Parents are discovering the effect that this has had on their children. Without it, they miss what’s going on in the classroom… and this can take away from the learning environment of the other students in class.” Jensen said.