What I Want The U.S. Secretary of Education To Know

What I Want The U.S. Secretary of Education To Know

If I had just one minute to speak with Betsy DeVos, the United States Secretary of Education, this what I would like to say:  Every class in America has children with a learning disability in it, whether because of the push to mainstream or because the child has not yet been identified.  Based on this fact EVERY class should be taught by a special education teacher.  Eliminate the General Education teaching degree.  Use the upcoming staff developments to bring the existing teachers up to speed.  Mandate that any teacher taking credits to complete requirements or change their pay level make those credits special education based.

If I had five minutes to speak with Betsy DeVos, this is what I would like to say:  I understand that current testing standards for services are designed to identify who has a significant enough gap to warrant the exorbitant funding for support services.  However, without follow up testing to determine WHY these children have said gap the monies and effort are sadly wasted with far too little benefit to show for the expenditure.  It should not take 3-10 years of little progress in speech therapy to garner a hearing test.  Diagnostics 101 dictates that any level of hearing loss or auditory processing dysfunction be ruled out first so as not to waste time in pointless remediation.

The same holds true for a student who can not read up to par.  Why try multiple different reading methods before stumbling on one that works, or worse, trying one method without success and continuing on anyway?!?  If you test the fundamental physiological functions required to successfully read before starting remediation you will be able to identify which approach to reading is the best fit (defined as bypassing the student’s weakness and tapping into his strength) for this individual.   This approach also allows you to target the necessary  rehabilitation appropriately.

The testing currently administered is based on an artificial divide between medical and educational jurisdiction.  Once you recognize that you are dealing with a single human being, rather than a computeresque head to be pumped with data and spit out  a perfect performance, you will be able to move past the artificial show of testing and costly but ineffective provision of services.  Genuine help is just an attitude adjustment away.  Reading may be an academic skill but the hearing and seeing as well as accurate processing of the information is not.  How can you claim to want to help a student and test only the academic side of the performance in question?

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