This is great! This is when the program can start making a lot of money and you can expand with more students with more futures.
I wish this was true. Unfortunately education has gone overboard with college for all. This has severely impacted special education in that it too has jumped on academics and pretty much abandoned any sort of meaningful life skills training. My students academic functioning levels are so low that I am able to pull this program off with the support of my supervisors. Unfortunately almost all these students will never work in an unsupported competitive job. My 3 students that are working come from the special education class across the hall and are only on my caseload because their families wanted them in my program. If left to the system they never would be. Why? Because this group functions at the 2-3rd grade level academically and the college for all philosophy is on them all day. They do 1-3rd grade academics all day (even though they are in 9th-12th grades). It is insane. They don't pass the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) which means they can't get a HS diploma. They also do not take regular education academic classes and this bars them from a diploma also. The Ohio Graduation Test passing score is 39%. This too is insane. Where are there higher learning institutes that work with passing scores of 39%? I think close to 1/2 of our regular education students have to take this more than once to pass and we have a very high rate that never pass. The kids across the hall could be employed full time in competitive jobs if I had them for 4 years as proven by the 3 I have that are all working part time while in school.
So I end up with a group of kids that will never find competitive work and they are in a class that trains for competitive employment and the kids across the hall are in a class that trains in abstract academics and in the 6.5 years I have been here none have passed the OGT, gone onto higher learning degrees and none are employed in competitive jobs other than the 3 that have been switched to my class full time.
This has been very depressing but I figure if I ran my own shop I would employ at most 2 disabled employees and my students that will never work competitively are learning skills that will help them be successfull in group home living as adults. I also have a few regular education students that are big time trouble that help a few periods a day and do wonderful. I can help them find jobs as well. Finally I can continue to show the community the value of a program like this and things will only change when they throw their votes to this idea. So I am able to reach more staying in the schools but it stinks having 15 higher functioning kids across the hall that could easily end up in real jobs if they were in my program.
Schools are toxic places to work. The moral of the staff is way low. They see the meaningless of what they are doing with all this teaching to a test that only requires 39% mastery to pass and many of their students fail it several times or never pass. The students feel the meaningless of it too and there are lots of dragging feet walking down the hall, outbursts of anger that require our full time police officer to intervene, arrest, taser........... This is historically a working class town that has lost all the factory work. So what do we do? We throw nothing but academics at them, tell them they can go to colleg if they try real hard, and our culture wipes its hands of the shame of so many people living hopeless lives.
The saddest part is these kids are good kids. They come from impoverished homes that have little regard for education because they have no education. Many are in families that came from Appalachia and have not worked since the 70's when the factories began to close. No computer is going to fix a broken toilet, cut your lawn, make you a meal...... We have a county vocational school but students are not eligible for it until they are juniors. That means they have to endure 2 years of seat in your seat academics and have at least B's and C's to get into the vocational school. That is like telling a thirsty man to wait 2 years and he will get some water..... So they fail most of their classes, can't get in the vocational school, and basically come to school for shelter, free food, and social time during the 5 minute passing periods (lots are late for class) and lunch period.
The federal and state governments make this toxic scenario and the local administrators are not able to legally change anything. It is a minor miracle that I was able to put this program together in todays educational culture. I have been able to shape it somewhat by getting these 3 students in my class full time and do a lot of legwork to continue this trend. I hate going to work in the sense I see so much hopelessness and realize how easily we could change this and yet I am driven to go to work everyday and work with a few that have hope. A man who many consider the greatest of all time once said along these lines - go to the sick not the well. I feel I follow that everyday. I know this is a depressing post but it is the simple truth. Until we, the educated community, respects and cares about these people, the tragedy will only increase as our economy suffers. Greed is the root of all evil and I ain't no preacher man but my wife says I should be