Trust me Walter, I've thought about driving the 359 mile, 5 hour and 42 minute trip to your shop. I spend more time than I'd like to admit thinking about ways I could visit some people on this forum and make it look like I was just in the neighborhood driving by. The conversations start something like this: "Oh hey Walter, I was just out visiting the world's largest basket and it dawned on me that you live near here..."
You must have to learn a new politically correct term for these people twice a week, no? I mean this in a purely humorous way. I couldn't help but smile when I read it.
As always, keep up the good work,
Dan: Come on out. My next door neighbor is a big wig at the basket. She has worked there like 30 years and can give you the big tour. I have never been in it but drive by it on our way back to visit NJ. It is only a few miles from our school. You can also visit the bar of the famous motorized bar stool crash that took place here in Newark http://www.nbcnews.com/id/29971638/ns/us_news-weird_news/t/man-charged-drunk-driving-bar-stool/
I have an extra bed in recording studio and there is a super nice B&B at the end of our street and the rooms are very nice and under $100/night with the discount you would get because we are neighbors. http://www.fraleyhouse.net/
I give up on the current politically correct definition of my students disability. When I started teaching it was Mental Retardation. Since it has changed to- developmentally delayed, cognitively delayed, cognitively impaired, developmentally disabled, intellectual disability, and some others I can't remember at the moment. It is all about our society's shame with this issue. We don't want to invest the money and time to maximize these peoples level of fulfillment. It is basically the same approach of how the USA operates- sink or swim and its your life baby not mine so don't expect me to do anything about antibody's but mine. If your brain doesn't work right I am sorry for you but nobody is going to pay me back if I pay to help you. Sure we put these kids in public schools, pay them $700/month till they die, and provide them bare bones housing/food/clothing/medical for their life. They live in group homes and if they don't have a job all their social security check ($700) goes to room and board. Most end up doing nothing their entire lives but waiting for the food bell. There was sheltered workshops where some worked and were paid by the piece. This amounted to very little money since factory work has died here in the USA and now a new law is in place where these shops have to be closed and the people placed in competitive workplaces. They have created a whole new department within the Department of Developmental Disabilities whose head guy makes 100K a year. I was asked to apply for the job( which is like 40k more than I make now) but it involves no direct work with kids and that is of no interest to me. The Dept of Developmental Disabilities also went through a name change recently from the board of mental retardation and developmental disabilities.
This new direction to close the workshops and to figure out how to place these people in workplaces that you and I work in is not going so good. They can't find hardly anyplaces to take these people as regular paid employees. Who can blame them? It is a sink or swim world we live in and if an employee can't pull his own weight they are fired. So now they have come up with another nice new word - adult service centers. They are following the same model that was used when these people were taken out of institutions as children and put in public schools in 1975 with the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. The schools took these children on, as we still do today, and basically babysit them until they age out at 22 years old. They are taught at the 1-3rd grade level all the way up until then because due to their MR they plateau at these levels. So we prepare them for nothingness and thus when they finish public school they continue in this model till they die.
The adult service centers are a great place to be if you want to become a millionare today. The government will pay you per client, per day, to warehouse them. These places are in the community and there is tons of funding for space, transportation to get them to and from the site, feed them, and provide recreational materials to occupy their day like crayons, paper, TV, etc...... So now we have these people out of institutions, in public schools, and now in the community as adults. So we can wash our hands of it, pat ourselves on the backs and say "great job guys we really have made these poor peoples lives wonderful!" The reality is all we did was do a real lame con job on our souls to relieve the guilt of our society. These people never asked to be born disabled and we have wealth beyond our needs but our society teaches us we never have enough and let go of only a little bit to ease your conscious if it is bothering you. People that have sat in seats for 22 years doing 1-3rd grade worksheets the entire time are trained for nothing in our society.
Now they have work programs in the high schools but it is way too little and way too late. Again it is another barely no meat on the bone to ease our conscious. Sadly my program is most likely the only one in the country that runs a self sustaining full time business and the students work in it all day, everyday, for their entire high school experience. Now the push is growing ever stronger to put them in academic settings which is another move to ease our conscious. I was told this summer I would have to start teaching these worksheet academics to my students. I thanked them sincerely for this wonderful experience but if that happens I will have to quit. They figured a way around it and have my students going 1 period a day to a teacher that does 1-2nd grade worksheets with them and her students which are a tad higher functioning than my students come to me for that period. Sadly these are kids that I could easily place 90% in competitive jobs successfully if I had them 4 years full time. Instead they have close to a 100% unemployment rate as adults and live the lifestyle I mentioned earlier in this post.
I figure the tide will either continue on this college prep for all and I will have to quit or it will swing back to reality a bit more and I can end my life teaching where I am. Either way is OK with me but I know I will never accept being a 60-70k/year babysitter. I am ready to open my own pizzeria if and when this happens and hire a couple disabled people to work for me. I have to live with myself and babysitting "teaching" 18-22 year olds 1-3rd grade academics sounds like a living hell on earth and then again for eternity when I die. IMO all special education teachers need to strike until things change to make our students lifes Smiling With Hope
This will probably never happen because most teachers are scared to lose their jobs and come up with all kinds of insane rationalizations to keep their job meaningful in their own minds. Things like- you have no idea how far this student can go with academic learning and to not expose them to it is a crime- is the most comon I hear. Yet these people refuse to look at the medical definitions of the students they teach which shows the reasons why they plataue at such low levels, the near 100% unemployment rates their students have as adult, how they top the charts in teen pregnancies, addiction, homelessness, incarcaration, and abuse. They act like magically all the vocational skills, life skills, functional academic skills, needed to survive in our world will magically occur once they leave the public school system- they will mature and it will happen....... Would a doctor specializing in cancer tell a patient to go and face west at 4pm everyday for 10 mintues and visualize the cancer disapearing be allowed to practice? Well us special ed teachers pretty much do this everyday and get paid pretty good for doing it. I use to point this stuff out but it was like telling a devot Christian there is no God so I have dropped that because all it created was disharmony with my peers. Now I smile a lot at work, talk nice, avoid that issue and try to keep my program afloat. At least I can hopefully save a few from a life that would cause most everyone reading this post to commit suicide. Sorry if I went on a rant but we often don't realize how good we have it and is this situation is as fundementally wrong as racial segregation was/is. My students will never drive a car, never go on a vacation independently, never own a home, never have their own room as adults (roomates are assigned in group homes), will never understand the concept of money, will never have very good health care, will often be cared for by adults that are of low intelligence and not very nice, will never............. you can use your imagination to add to this list. Thanks for all the support here and my dream is things will change in our lifetime and unlike most teachers that are afraid to speak up for fear of getting fired, I have to speak up. I still can't believe I get paid so well for doing a meaningful job! Heck I put this program together and I am nothing more special than anyone with a normal intellegence. So why does our society operate in such ways? I will never understand this. Walter