Patterico's Pontifications

2/3/2010

The Dead Puppy Letter

Filed under: Education — DRJ @ 11:01 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

A blogger at the Houston Chronicle’s MomHouston blog is appalled at a letter an elementary school principal wrote and sent to parents of second-graders. The principal claims it was a joke letter sent in error in which he labeled some students lazy or stupid, and complained about accommodations for allergic and other impaired children.

Here’s the letter that I will always remember as the Dead Puppy Letter.

Are you appalled?

— DRJ

95 Responses to “The Dead Puppy Letter”

  1. i’m in hysterics…..

    (but quietly, as the 3v1L one is asleep %-)

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  2. This is hilarious.

    I guess it’s bad that the joke got sent out. Probably by some vengeful staffer (you always should be nice to people who handle your work).

    I wouldn’t mind that a principal takes humor at problems that they face all the time. Sounds reasonably sane to me. But people like me do not wield the power at the PTA meetings.

    Sadly, if you have a mediocre or lazy kid, perhaps medicated because of some behavioral problem, you might just try to get this principal fired to prove to yourself what a damn fine parent you are.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  3. Frankly, I have some sympathy for the frustration that is being expressed in this letter. It is simply unimaginable to me the work requirements we put on teachers that detract from their ability to do the most simple acts of teaching in their classrooms.

    The willingness of health and education professionals to label all variety of conditions as “special needs”, requiring all manner of expensive accommodations, creates one of the biggest financial drags on our educational system.

    The state where I live budgeted $2.4 million for K-12 education this year. Of that, $500 million is to pay for “special needs” education requirements.

    shipwreckedcrew (3d3fb8)

  4. The state where I live budgeted $2.4 million for K-12 education this year. Of that, $500 million is to pay for “special needs” education requirements.

    i hope they included basic math as one of those special needs… %-)

    /white smoke

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  5. No, I am not appalled. Kids are resilient and cal/do worst things to each other every day. They are way too “protected” these days.

    However, I believe the principal got an education that day… At work, don’t put anything in writing / on a computer / email / etc. that you don’t expect to be blown up on a billboard (or posted in a blog/newspaper).

    BfC (5209ec)

  6. I see where the wrecked part worked into that math.

    political agnostic (1965ca)

  7. Opps — should have been $2.4 billion total budget, $500 million on special needs requirements.

    shipwreckedcrew (3d3fb8)

  8. We all knew you meant 2.4 billion 🙂

    Thats not an indictment of your math reasoning skills…

    Yeah Special needs used to be handled occasionally in my day by that ancient art of a long flat stick applied to one’s butt

    EricPWJohnson (d0c4eb)

  9. Well, to be sure, a lot of politicians these days would spend 500 million if they only had 2.4 million available.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  10. Dead Puppy Letter, as in the principal is now a dead puppy in his job?

    If a teacher had sent home such a joke letter, even by mistake, the principal would surely be expressing regret that such a thing had happened, but, unfortunately, even though he was a fine teacher, we just had to let him go.

    The (3e4784)

  11. When I drop bring my seven-year old to school and leave her there for seven hours, I want to know that she is in good hands. Such a letter would not inspire confidence that such was the case.

    Our school is the ECE school for the district — that’s for pre-school children with special needs. I see those babies, brought by their parents or by bus, every morning. About $6,000.00 of my real estate tax bill goes to the school (I have a modest home, some of my neighbors pay much more). I do not begrudge a penny of it.

    nk (db4a41)

  12. I’ve got two teachers and a former school nurse in the family, and the stories they tell about the kinds of stuff they have to face in their classroom every day is what is “appalling.”

    It’s called “mainstreaming” disabled kids so that they won’t be deprived of the same “educational experience” as the other kids. What it really means is that even kids who are almost completely non-functional get propped up in a corner with a tax-payer funded “PA” (personal attendant) to wipe their drool.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mainstreaming_(education)

    And it’s one of the things that is killing our education system. You wonder where all that money goes that they keep throwing at the Dep.of Education, when our educ. stats continue to fall? It goes to pay for stupid programs like this.

    It’s easy to see how one frustrated teacher might send such a letter to others who could relate.

    Steve B (5eacf6)

  13. With all due respect, the letter is dead on.

    My only wish is the same educators who wrote the letter would be as critical when demanding more pay, more benefits, less work and more bureaucracy.

    Our schools have become day-care centers and the costs associated have shot through the roof accordingly to coddle the children.

    Classrooms teach the absolutist dumbest child and abandon the rest — that is they go as fast as the slowest car and alienating the smartest and hardest working. ADD diagnosis are driven by this inability of our education system to drive a Ferrari like one and not a Model T. We teach to the LCD.

    So, while it might OFFEND certain parents that sad fact is more of us are offended by the pathetic schools which tip toe around the few and then throwing mounds and mounds of homework and activities on us parents to accommodate for their Day Care center mentality to education.

    HeavenSent (ae267e)

  14. We have a kindergartener with Angelman’s, a first grader with spinae bifida, and a third grader with Down’s Syndrome at my daughter’s school. Should their parents have aborted them?

    If you are not going to spend tax money on children, what excuse do you have for spending it on anything else?

    nk (db4a41)

  15. nk, the answer to your question is the same special education we had for many years. Then parents of these kids got lawyers and indulged their fantasies that their kids could catch up to the kids who did not have “special needs” and they got rid of the special ed teachers who had advanced degrees and dumped the kids in regular classrooms. The result is that teachers in our school district are irrigating gastrostomy tubes instead of teaching reading. I sent my kids to private school to avoid this but not many can. I will say that a number of private schools have been built in this area in the last 25 years and well trained teachers are taking big pay cuts to work there.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  16. I don’t have children, but my best friend has two severely autistic children who have been mainstreamed. I think that Mike is dead on here – while he and his wife think it’s great, the more they tell me of the classroom experience the more it sounds like a nightmare for the teacher, and an impediment for the other children’s pace of learning. Of course, I keep this opinion to myself.

    Dmac (539341)

  17. My wife teaches the children you speak of, NK. She can relate many examples of them developing to their full potential, and attaining some quality of life. They come from families of great wealth, as well as those without a pot to piss in.

    She works virtually seven days a week, keeping up with all the state and federally mandated paperwork that precedes and follows MDS instruction, and doesn’t make a great deal of money – about than half the huge salary we throw at our gym teacher/football coach. Priorities, you know.

    As for mainstreaming, our youngest is an Asperger’s child. He started out with a PA, though not to “wipe his drool” as asswipe Steve B. puts it. As is often the case with Asperger’s kids, he is off the charts intelligent. Now in fourth grade, he is own his own and thriving, the result of a lot of hard work from the drool wiper, the regular classroom teachers, and his parents.

    But he won’t ever throw a touchdown pass on Friday night, so to many, this result probably wasn’t worth it.

    Hey Steve, Fuck you.

    [note: released from moderation. –Stashiu]

    Matador (176445)

  18. The principal at my daughter’s school sent such a letter home. It resulted in him getting caned.

    No, that’s not a typo. You see, my girls were homeschooled, and I gave a letter like this to the wife. She beat me mercilessly…

    Jim Armstrong (1a8310)

  19. My son is autistic. He can not talk, is socially awkward in almost all things, and has several unusual behaviors which are called ‘stims’, such as hand flapping, atonal humming and screaming when he is in sensory overload.

    So, that having been said, the large amount of idiocy and ill-will manifested at people like my son, and Downs sufferers like Trig Palin, is both enraging and heart breaking.

    Yes, my son needs special services to get through a day. HE needs special teachers that undertand that ‘applying a stick to his butt’ will not change his behavior and someone ‘to wipe the drool off his face’. You sick, sick people…

    Some of you should just shut up and imagine what it is like for the parents of such children, and not indulge in your fantasies of righteous indignation.

    MunDane68 (54a83b)

  20. ^I don’t have to imagine it, I hear about it on a daily basis and have seen it with my own eyes, you sactimonious a–hole. I’ve never seen you here before on this blog, so either show some respect or STFU. And your son’s condition is not the issue here – it’s about what the best learning environment and conditions should be for all of a public school district’s children, not just yours.

    BTW, we have a few folks here who actually have special needs children, and don’t act as fraudulent poseurs just looking to score some cheap shots. What say you all?

    Dmac (539341)

  21. Oh, and my son will never ‘catch up’ to anyone, lawyers or not. The time my son spends mainstreaming is minimal, as he is a severe case.

    Did anyone ever think that maybe that one of the lessons that mainstreaming teaches is compassion, why don’t you all try a cup sometime?

    MunDane68 (54a83b)

  22. Dmac, if you have not seen me on this blog, you have not been looking very hard. I have been commenting for more than two years.

    MunDane68 (54a83b)

  23. MunDane68 –

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that your child is less than human or anything. It doesn’t have to be “ill-will” to disagree with the concept of mainstreaming. (btw, the drool comment is based on first-hand accounts of the school nurse I know.)

    What you said is this:
    HE needs special teachers”

    To which I say, ABSOLUTELY! Your son is clearly “special needs,” and as such has special education requiremnts that can’t — and shouldn’t — be adequately met by your average grade-school teacher.

    The simply reality is that your son’s “stims” ( hand flapping, atonal humming and screaming?! )are likely very distracting to the other kids…whose attention spans aren’t that great to start with. His presence also requires the teacher spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with his issues, rather than instructing the class as a whole.

    I don’t suggest that he not get an education. I suggest that he get an education by a qualified special-ed teacher in a separate environment.

    You ask us to think about what it is like for the parents? Perhaps you make more of an effort to understand what it is like for the other students and teachers when your son is screaming and having overload when the teacher is try to teach social studies?

    Do you honestly think this is breeding “compassion” in is fellow students? If he is such a severe case, WHY insist that he been in a mainline classroom at all?

    Steve B (5eacf6)

  24. It’s a tough, thankless gig, being a principal.

    So many little minds to warp… so little time.

    GeneralMalaise (55c598)

  25. The MS Word reading level shows his masterpiece at ninth grade level. Wonderful…

    vor2 (8e6b90)

  26. I see both sides of the issue. Our school district has a maximum 20 children per classroom rule, and in practice it is as few as fourteen. My sister in law has as many as 36 children in her classrooms at the Chicago Public School where she is the principal. We can cope much better with special needs, and take care of all the children, than she can.

    nk (db4a41)

  27. In many schools, mainstreaming is the least of the issues facing teachers. My wife teaches in public schools in a city near our house. For most kids in the system there is no hope. More money cannot fix the problems. Removing the mainstreamed kids will not fix it. New class rooms and new books won’t fix anything. Removing the kids from the toxic environments they call “home” is the only chance they have. Period. That ain’t gonna happen, ergo no hope. (I hope this does not double post … the intartubes are acting funny)

    quasimodo (4af144)

  28. “Send me dead puppies every mornin’
    and I won’t ferget to put MILKBONE®s
    on your grave.”

    – Mick Richards

    GeneralMalaise (55c598)

  29. I spent $3500 to $6000 per year, PER CHILD (4) over 16 years to keep them in private christian schools. This is in addition to $6000 per year in property taxes I spent to fund the public schools.

    This despite I am not even christian, I just figured any philosophy anyone had, ought to be strong enough to withstand scruitiny.

    What the Principle described is all too accurate for our public school system. A parents only true recourse is not to participate in it. Parents have a very small window of time to ensure their children are properly educated and cannot fool around wasting time trying to ‘fix’ things in public schools. Its like teaching a pig to sing, it only annoys you and the pig.

    Fortunately, because of their superior secondary education I did not have to pay college tuition any of them. All four got full academic scholarships offers from multiple schools.

    Frederick (dfac16)

  30. Do you honestly think this is breeding “compassion” in is fellow students?

    Comment by Steve B — 2/4/2010 @ 6:58 am

    See for yourself.

    http://www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/newsletter/spring07/friend.htm

    Matador (176445)

  31. Comment by quasimodo — 2/4/2010 @ 7:27 am

    I’m with you, quasimodo. Here, the teachers send home ten minutes of homework and the parents block the TV and do an hour, not including reading to their kids at bedtime. And hire tutors, too. And participate in the PTA at every level from bake sales to attending the school board meetings. At any given time, we could have more parents involved in the school than teachers and staff.

    nk (db4a41)

  32. Completely understandable that a principal would let off a little steam this way. Hope he tracks down his disloyal employee and makes their life miserable.

    While I don’t have a kid with autism, my kids are not high achievers or top of their class. I don’t expect the bulk of the budget to be focused on them or special needs kids.

    I am upset that the truly high achievers are basically ignored. It is just wrong that the kids who often are the most intelligent, hard working and talented receive the least funding and attention from the schools. These kids are the ones who end up contributing the most to society and need to be focused upon.

    ogman (1f2308)

  33. Actually, no, ogman. There are “special attention” programs for kids who are above the 95th percentile, cognitively and academically. The programs’ names vary from state to state but “honors” is common. Also for kids who show special talent in art, music or athletics.

    nk (db4a41)

  34. Sure it’s possible…but is it likely? And the other question arises…is whatever benefit in increased compassion for a few worth the impacts to the quality academic education to all?

    And honestly…seriously. Read the link. What kind of “friendship” does this person really have, given the extreme nature of her disabilities? No one is saying lock her in a dark room, but does a child with these kinds of impairments really belong in a public school classroom?

    “profound brain damage resulting in spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, severe mental retardation, seizure disorder, legal blindness, hearing impairment, and numerous medical conditions related to her disabilities”

    Honestly? You can’t see what an exponential increase in workload and/or stress this might be for a teacher?

    And again, I ask, is providing a full-time medical caretaker for this child IN THE CLASSROOM really what our education dollars should be used for?

    [note: released from moderation. –Stashiu]

    Steve B (5eacf6)

  35. I am upset that the truly high achievers are basically ignored. It is just wrong that the kids who often are the most intelligent, hard working and talented receive the least funding and attention from the schools. These kids are the ones who end up contributing the most to society and need to be focused upon.

    I totally agree with this comment, ogman. When I was in school, the teacher taught to the middle (regarding intelligence) kids, worked a bit more with the slower kids, and gave extra challenges to the brighter ones.

    I find it a total shame that money, and more money is thrown at the mainstreaming problems, and less and less monies to the brighter kids.
    With no effect other than to bring everyone down further regarding education. NO other way to put it.

    And yes, I also think that the “special needs” kids should be in schools with special instructors. If that’s horrible, so be it. Please look at our school system to see how well it works for everyone to be in one classroom…it doesn’t appear to be working out well at all for the intelligent students.

    Charlotte (dad663)

  36. Sure it’s possible…but is it likely? And the other question arises…is whatever benefit in increased compassion for a few worth the impacts to the quality academic education to all?

    And honestly…seriously. Read the link. What kind of “friendship” does this person really have, given the extreme nature of her disabilities? No one is saying lock her in a dark room, but does a child with these kinds of impairments really belong in a public school classroom?

    “profound brain damage resulting in spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, severe mental retardation, seizure disorder, legal blindness, hearing impairment, and numerous medical conditions related to her disabilities”

    Honestly? You can’t see what an exponential increase in workload and/or stress this might be for a teacher?

    And again, I ask, is providing a full-time medical caretaker for this child IN THE CLASSROOM really what our education dollars should be used for?

    [note: released from moderation. –Stashiu]

    Steve B (5eacf6)

  37. I think the question is one of fine tuning. We are a rich country. A good country. A kind country. I think that the philosophy that no child should be left behind is the most American thing there is.

    nk (db4a41)

  38. Comment by Frederick — 2/4/2010 @ 7:38 am

    My three went through public school in Louisiana. All three received scholarships and one was the Valedictorian.
    Why? Because my wife stayed home with them through high school, drilled them on math and science while I worked on their english and composition.

    Parental involvement is the real key to success whether private or public.

    vor2 (8e6b90)

  39. We spend $3,000.00 a day for Alzheimers patients in ICUs. I think we can do as much for children with special needs. And I think we should do more.

    nk (db4a41)

  40. Let me rephrase that, to make it clearer: “We spend $3,000.00 a day on every Alzheimers patient in an ICU”.

    nk (db4a41)

  41. BTW, I don’t have a special needs child, if it matters.

    nk (db4a41)

  42. NK,
    I agree with you about the special needs and think people should want to pay a little more in tax to fund a good school system for all kids.

    When we lived in Omaha during the 90’s its public school was lauded as a pretty good system. Part of the reason for that was the millage rate included a fairly generous amount apportioned for the schools. (for our house valued at 70K we paid 1600 a year in property taxes and about a quarter of that was for schools)The taxpayers complained and the year we moved from there it had been reduced.

    First things to go were string type orchestras and several foreign language classes (French and Spanish remained).

    In Louisiana the rate is considerably lower (100K house for example has annual tax of 700 dollars and nothing close to a quarter of that goes to schools) and the schools have very little to work with in terms of resources, computers, etc. On the Shreveport side a significant number of parents send their kids to private schools and fight any suggestions for increases in tax for public school improvement.

    Using Louisiana as an example, if the rates went up 200 a year per 100K of value that could go a long way toward improving the schools and making better programs for all students. I’m not a fan of taxes in general but when it comes to the schools too many people are missing the forest for the trees.

    vor2 (8e6b90)

  43. Some people think it’s more important to spend the money to build temples for atheists who pretend to be witches, vor2.

    nk (db4a41)

  44. Well, I will volunteer to be the [insert slang term for the rectum here] who will ask the blunt question: if someone has a child who is so developmentally disabled that he will never be a productive adult, should we waste taxpayer dollars on such a child in a fruitless attempt to educate him?

    The heartless Dana (3e4784)

  45. Yes. Who would have missed you should you never have lived, Dana?

    nk (db4a41)

  46. nk: Is that the appropriate criterion for deciding whether to use public funds, to use taxpayer dollars, because a family will miss someone?

    We fund public education because it is in our interest to have a society and a workforce with some knowledge and skills. But if the child is so developmentally disabled that he will never be educable and never possess workplace skills, if he is, in effect, outside of the goals of the public education system, is it a reasonable expenditure to make within that system and those goals?

    The very heartless Dana (3e4784)

  47. if someone has a child who is so developmentally disabled that he will never be a productive adult, should we waste taxpayer dollars on such a child in a fruitless attempt to educate him?

    could just as easily be changed to read

    if someone has an elderly relative who is so sick that he will no longer be a productive adult, should we waste taxpayer dollars on such a person in a fruitless attempt to research methods that might make them comfortable the remaining time they have left

    vor2 (8e6b90)

  48. Are you prepared to exempt that parent from any and all taxation that finds its way into the public education system?

    That’s not even the best argument for “wasting” tax dollars on them, but maybe it can get through to the half (fiscal) conservatives, for whom the moral part of the discussion is just a bother.

    Matador (176445)

  49. Better than gaslit street lamps, like we have where I live, Dana.

    nk (db4a41)

  50. VOR2, your changing of adj Dana’s query does not change the answer. Should we use taxpayer dollars on medical research? In a word, “NO!”

    John Hitchcock (f9c8af)

  51. And, Matador, I’m very much a Social Conservative. I’m the sort the Libertarians and the Fiscal Conservative/Social Liberal sort want to flush out of the Republican Party.

    John Hitchcock (f9c8af)

  52. meh.

    I really think these are issues that reasonable people will be on either side of. Should the public have their wealth taken to support the mentally handicapped? I think most people would say yes and disagree on the degree.

    Let the states decide independent of any federal direction.

    No doubt, some places are spending far more than actually needed to help the children. That wealth destruction has a real damaging effect on society, so it’s actually heartless to ignore this.

    I think medical research leads to profitable stuff. It makes sense to leave all that to the private sector instead of letting politicians decide where to invest. In fact, it’s hard to compete with Uncle Sugar, so maybe it is counter productive to publicly fund certain kinds of research.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  53. Why would I be appalled? I would assume they are making fun of other people’s kids — not mine of course! So no big deal.

    CB3 (f303ee)

  54. Two words: Tough Love

    Two more words: It works.

    John Hitchcock (f9c8af)

  55. CB3, “they” are not making fun of any kids. “They” are making fun of libs.

    John Hitchcock (f9c8af)

  56. Tough love? Who came up with that oxymoron? Love is anything but tough.

    nk (db4a41)

  57. but it’s not an oxymoron.

    It’s not really love if it’s totally easy. Making hard sacrifices, or telling someone you love they have to develop or resist temptation… that can be very tough.

    Let’s not be too simplistic. Tough Love is a really insightful concept. It doesn’t apply to everything. But it applies at the times love is tested the most.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  58. And considering that three fourths of Chicago’s municipal employees are anything but productive members of society ….

    nk (db4a41)

  59. Dustin, you sound like you never loved.

    nk (db4a41)

  60. nk, not to be rude, but it kinda sounds like you are being deliberately obtuse.

    You are clearly very smart and know what the concept of Tough Love is.

    It’s the converse of spoiling.

    I am not going to complain that I’ve had family I’ve had to exercise tough love with. Or loved ones I’ve been frustrated with. That’s just part of a normal life, and I’m grateful for it. The idea that love is always easy is … well … not something I think anyone seriously believes.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  61. John –

    That’s been clear to me since I started hanging around PP.

    Matador (176445)

  62. I don’t anyone would argue against having a portion of our taxes should go towards helping children with disablililties. However, when addressing severe disablilities is anyone helped by having them in a mainstreaming environment. I would argue everyone gets the short end of the stick in this case and the the emotional bolster that a parent of a disabled child gets from having their child “go to school” just is not worth the money spent.

    PRM (310ebf)

  63. PRM,

    well said.

    While there might be a tiny extreme that thinks we shouldn’t help these people, those asking for a more effective system are hardly heartless. It’s worth pointing out that the status quo has consequences for all the kids involved in public education. Personally, I like the mainstreaming effect, but I definitely see your point.

    This is a great example of where 50 different states approaching this in different ways would lead to a much better long term situation as novel approaches yielded some knowledge. Instead, we have a lobby and a desire for money. No doubt, money is needed, but sometimes it seems like the end all be all of every sympathy issue is just to increase funding.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  64. Dustin,

    Not to be rude, but you write a lot and say little.

    nk (db4a41)

  65. vor2, please don’t mislead those from outside our great State of Louisiana that we do not fund public education. EVERY school district uses sales taxes to support schools as opposed to property taxes, so that everyone pays for schools. Is it enough? (full disclosure: I’m a public school teacher/administrator, as is my wife). I sometimes argue it is not, but I also realize that the public does feel it is not getting what it is paying for, and may not be willing to pay more.

    As for special needs: there are many who can benefit from the educational setting, and some that will NEVER benefit. We must find something reasonable and adequate for those who will NEVER benefit, and that may not be in a regular classroom.

    reff (b996d9)

  66. The beauty of market based education is that people get what they pay for. The idea that kids with special needs are entitled to money that is not theirs simply because of the vagaries of fate is repugnant to me. It’s socialistic. You do not have a right to take my money and give it away to other people, no matter how damaged or destitute they are. You can only confiscate my wealth to pay for damage that I caused.

    If you oppose giving tax dollars to people who don’t work, you must also oppose giving tax dollars to people who cannot learn.

    NK, you’re being completely irrational here. No one, and I mean no one, suggested euthanasia or targeted abortions for people with disabilities. That is a strawman, and a despicable one at that. Everyone is not equally capable. We are all equal in the eyes of the law and of God, but some of us are smarter, some are faster, some are stronger. Some of us will never walk, some of us are doomed to die young and in extraordinary pain, and some of us will need the care of others simply to survive.

    If we are going to have government run schools, we should make sure that the priorities of those schools are ensuring literacy and competency in basic skills for everyone, and grooming the high level achievers for bigger and better things. Those who cannot learn due to disabilities should not be in a classroom. Sitting them in a corner, even if they are absolutely silent, is not fair to them and not fair to the other children. Forcing someone incapable of absorbing the material to sit in class all day, that’s what I find despicable. What good does that serve? Who benefits from the practice? Someone said compassion. Leaving aside the dubious notion that compassion can be taught by bureaucrats, how exactly does this practice instill compassion. Would you make a paraplegic watch football practice or ballet all day because it builds compassion? The idea that children who’s only experience of the mentally disabled is the disruptive kid who took up all the teacher’s time will be more compassionate to those kids is laughable. Using the disabled as a prop or mascot to support a completely unrealistic worldview, that’s the truly disgusting thing.

    Mainstreaming must end. There is a difference between a gifted child and a disabled one. It does no good, and much harm and it only continues because it seems nice to people who do not have to deal with it on a day to day basis. This includes the parents of the disabled, who persist in their belief that their children will somehow be able to perform at an equal level. Ignoring the constraints of reality is all well and good, as long as you don’t do it on my dime.

    Britt (8d5885)

  67. Dustin,

    Not to be rude, but you write a lot and say little.

    Comment by nk

    That’s a fair complaint.

    But do you seriously refuse to accept the concept of tough love? Or are you just making another ad hom?

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  68. Correction: EVERY school district uses sales taxes ALONG WITH property taxes….

    reff (b996d9)

  69. nk, my longest comment in this thread is like a fifth the length of one of yours, and you have far more comments too.

    so while I probably do talk way too much, perhaps you should keep in mind that you are actually talking much more. And while I’m making arguments, you’re saying shit like “sounds like you’ve never loved”.

    I respect your views even when I disagree with you. Is it too much to ask that you treat others as you want to be treated?

    [note: released from moderation. –Stashiu]

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  70. If it’s not unconditional, it’s not love. It’s selfishness, possesivenes and control.

    nk (db4a41)

  71. nk,

    you have a valid point that in some cases, people say they are showing tough love when they are showing selfishness.

    But you made a more general argument before that is faulty. And I think that one good way to see it is how you criticize “control”. YES, tough love is about control. That’s probably where we simply have incompatible views. Love can be controlling people for their own good.

    The normal criticism of that is that it’s paternalistic. But with kids, that’s hardly a criticism at all.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  72. Call it nurture, then. Not love. Love does not judge and it does not indebt.

    nk (db4a41)

  73. Reff,

    Are you saying that the sales tax and property tax is enough? Omaha used sales taxes as well.

    Louisiana’s public schools are an embarassment and I think you know that.

    http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_baeo_t2.htm

    “We are number 35 but we try harder”

    vor2 (c9795e)

  74. Tenure was created particularly for those such as the author of this letter…
    This will probably be included in recruiting brochures for private schools in the area.

    AD - RtR/OS! (0a4b14)

  75. This thread is an awkward, heartbreaking, but VERY NECESSARY conversation. I haven’t read every comment yet, but for every parent of a “special needs” child who thinks others here are heartless, you must understand that parents of children without those needs feel like the schools they pay for are NOT SERVING their children well due to the extreme inbalance of resource allocation.

    That is the biggest issue where I live.

    Hypo:

    Say the average per student expenditure is $15,000, and there are 10,000 students in the district (make math easier), the total expenditures would be $150 million.

    Now, lets say 25% of that budget is spent on “special needs”, as is the case in my district — that is $37.5 million.

    But if that 25% only contributes to the education of 1,000 students who are classified as “special needs,” the average per student spending for those kids is $37,500.

    The balane remaining $113.5 million is spent on the other 9000 students — an average spending per student of only about $12,500.

    This is all a result of the “mainstreaming” movement which has shifted the cost for medical care and services for these kids away from the parents and their insurers, and onto the state taxpayers.

    Shipwreckedcrew (dfa1f1)

  76. This thread is an awkward, heartbreaking, but VERY NECESSARY conversation. I haven’t read every comment yet, but for every parent of a “special needs” child who thinks others here are heartless, you must understand that parents of children without those needs feel like the schools they pay for are NOT SERVING their children well due to the extreme inbalance of resource allocation.

    That is the biggest issue where I live.

    Hypo:

    Say the average per student expenditure is $15,000, and there are 10,000 students in the district (make math easier), the total expenditures would be $150 million.

    Now, lets say 25% of that budget is spent on “special needs”, as is the case in my district — that is $37.5 million.

    But if that 25% only contributes to the education of 1,000 students who are classified as “special needs,” the average per student spending for those kids is $37,500.

    The balane remaining $113.5 million is spent on the other 9000 students — an average spending per student of only about $12,500.

    This is all a result of the “mainstreaming” movement which has shifted the cost for medical care and services for these kids away from the parents and their insurers, and onto the state taxpayers.

    Shipwreckedcrew (dfa1f1)

  77. Well said, Shipwrecked.

    I think we all want to do right by our kids, whether they are in special need or just want to realize great potential. It’s painful but necessary to have the conversation. There’s no need to think the people who take different takes on it are actually evil, unable to feel love, etc.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  78. The problem is that, god-DAMN it, quite a few “special needs” children cannot ever be brought up to speed, and forcing them into regular classrooms is unfair to them and to the other students, as well as the teacher. Particularly if their “special needs” lead to disruptive or distracting behavior.

    A lot of parents of these children are so far in denial of the fact that their child will never, no never, be normal, that they’ll move heaven and earth to force the rest of the world into complaince with their fantasies. I was in school myself, ages ago when dirt was new and dinosaurs walked the planet, and even a “normal” disruptive kid could easily make learning much more difficult—I can imagine what extreme cases like the ones mentioned above do. And nooo, it isn’t their fault—but they need to be in “special ed” classrooms, if they’re in school at all.

    Technomad (677f63)

  79. Comment by Shipwreckedcrew — 2/4/2010 @ 1:07 pm

    Good points but since the number of parents with special needs kids is certainly not a majority who could sway with votes alone what do you suggest? I really don’t think you are proposing an all or nothing solution.
    Goodwill has contracts with many bases for handicapped people who perform low skill work such as janitorial and food services – lowers cost for base operation and gives these adults a means of being productive. But to be a hire they have to have some level of education and social skills.

    vor2 (8e6b90)

  80. I suspect “retard” in this context is not about actually needy children but the one’s who simply don’t work very hard, don’t care and have parents who coddle their children to no end. Even, yes, grossly exaggerating illnesses which are so mild as to be negligible.

    How the conversation became about Children with real Special Needs (Autism, Mental Retardation, etc) I have no clue.

    Maybe I need to re-read the thread. I might be missing something. But I think their plenty of blame to go around for educators and parents for turning our schools into Day Care Centers.

    HeavenSent (ae267e)

  81. vor2…

    No, I thought my post said that the public does not feel it is getting what it is paying for….but, I also would like to include the personal thought that while the above may be true, there is waste and top-heavyness in probably all local districts, and with the existance of tenure, more bad teachers than there should be…

    I don’t think that money is the factor, and I don’t think the solution is private education, where the private/parochial school can simply choose NOT TO KEEP the marginal student (in my system, Jefferson Parish, we get a large influx of children from private/parochial schools each semester on the basis that they “failed/didn’t keep up” at the private/parochial school). There is “enough” money if we can get discipline and parental involvement improved, but, until then, too many people think that if you throw money at the situation, that will fix it…

    That’s the liberal fix…and it don’t work….

    reff (176333)

  82. Heavensent — no, I think you are onto an very pertinent point, and one I meant to make more explicitly.

    IMO, school districts and advocates for special needs kids are OVERLY inclusive in categorizing kids as “special needs.” This is harmful in many respects.

    First, it made needlessly categorizes some kids who don’t belong.

    Second, it diverts resources away from kids who don’t really need them to kids who really do.

    Third, it saddles teachers and adminstrators with the administration of this special treatment for kids who have behavioral problems that are not really “special needs.”

    My personal experience is that my child’s school “asked” and “suggested” that he be “tested” when he was in Pre-K. I knew exactly what they were driving at, but I also knew that my child was physically precosious from a very young age, was very coordinated soon after he could walk and was very active as a result. He spoke very early in comparison to other kids his age. And due to this birth date, he will always be one of the “oldest” kids in his classes as he goes through school.

    So, what the teacher saw as a kid “acting out” and difficult to control in comparison to his peers, was really nothing more than a kid who had a level of physical maturity ahead of his peers, both from a physiological/development standpoint and an DOB standpoint (he was 6-10 months older than most kids in his class as well as being an “early bloomer”).

    We said “no” to the testing, and now that he is eight, his peers have caught up to him and he’s no different than any of the others he goes to school with.

    I suspect the “testing posse” would have labeled him ADD/ADHD if given the chance.

    How many parents in similar circumstances just say “ok” to the request to test?

    Shipwreckedcrew (dfa1f1)

  83. Reff,

    The nice thing about property taxes is the voters can determine the requirements for their city or parish and tax accordingly. That is not a liberal fix – it is a community fix determined by the voters affected by the school quality. In practice if every 100K of property value had to cough up an extra 200 a year in tax it is not a terribly heavy burden (17 dollars a month)that may start to make a difference.
    Teacher pay in Louisiana is pretty low compared to other places – younger teachers will often move to Texas for that reason, leaving vacancies and sometimes lesser qualified people teaching our kids.
    Parental involvement is always the first and most important factor but when schools are so strapped that they have a hard time justifying running copies for handouts or forced to use older donated computers for their rooms I just don’t agree with you that money is not a factor in Louisiana schools.

    voiceofreason2 (84baa2)

  84. vor2, your simple statement “In practice if every 100K of property value had to cough up an extra 200 a year in tax it is not a terribly heavy burden (17 dollars a month)that may start to make a difference” is itself a liberal fix…..because the public has “spoken” about how much it is willing to spend on the education of our children, so, we should find a way to make do….

    That $17 a month, or $170 a month, more towards schools would not necessarily fix anything….As I was reading some of this at lunch today, I was thinking about how nearly all the problems I face as a teacher have nothing to do with funding. Salary??? While not the best in the world, I knew that when I started (at $5000 a year in 1977) that it was low, and wanted to teach anyway, because it was what I love. I still do, at $58K a year now. But, the job isn’t about money for me, or a lack of funding. It is about how much more difficult it is to deal with the child today as it was then, and nearly all of that can be traced to parental involvement (or a lack of it)….

    We could go round and round on this….I’ll stop…

    reff (176333)

  85. Well, I like dead puppies. Oops, dogs that is. A bun, some cheese, a little relish, with some mustard, ketchup, and chili. Good eating that is.

    peedoffamerican (422035)

  86. It’s always wonderful to play the [insert slang term for the rectum here], but I did it to ask a necessary question: is the public education system, created to educate citizens to be responsible adults and productive workers, the proper place for children who are developmentally disabled to the point where they can never be responsible adults or productive workers? No, I don’t think it is.

    We can have sympathy, and if so inclined, create institutional help for such children, but the public education system is simply not the right place. Not only does it negatively impact the students who are capable of learning, by diverting time and resources away from their education, but the whole notion of having the public education system care for the ineducable is a complete departure from what the system can, or ought to be expected to, do.

    The [insert slang term for the rectum here] Dana (474dfc)

  87. the proper place for children who are developmentally disabled to the point where they can never be responsible adults or productive workers?

    Apollo never blessed me with the gift of prophecy, and in any case prophecy is forbidden by my real God. Maybe it’s the same thing with the school system too — they can’t predict the child’s future. To follow up on your question, Dana, where do we draw the line? We predict that some children will be garbagemen? Others will be soldiers? Others will be lawyers? Others will be …? And train them each accordingly?

    nk (db4a41)

  88. I agree, Adjective Dana, for all the reasons you’ve stated and one more: I think the movement toward treating mentally disabled children (in particular) as a problem to be handled by the education system takes the pressure off medicine to find answers. Many of these children are treated primarily as behavioral and education problems, rather than medical patients. The education system may be able to help high-functioning children but IMO that’s not where we’ll find the answers to severe ADD, ADHD, autism, bipolar, etc.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  89. nk,

    There are clear differences between high-functioning and low-functioning children that typically become more pronounced with time. IMO the problem isn’t that we may err and refuse to let disabled kids have access to educational opportunities. The problem is we are using schools as a way to warehouse profoundly disabled kids and, in the process, making it harder to educate the abled kids.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  90. The good-hearted nk wrote:

    Dana, where do we draw the line? We predict that some children will be garbagemen? Others will be soldiers? Others will be lawyers? Others will be …? And train them each accordingly?

    Yet everyone you mentioned is a productive member of society and the workforce. Personally, I think very highly of garbagemen, because they do a hard, nasty and thankless job, and get too-little respect for doing it. But if all of the doctors and all of the garbagemen went on strike, who would be missed the most by most people?

    But there are children who will simply never be even able to care for themselves, and don’t kid yourself: we really do know who they are. You can certainly make a case for drawing the line charitably, to assume that the kids who are on the cusp of being able to be educated can be educated, but there are many for whom such is simply, and obviously, not the case.

    Are we really doing the ineducable a service by attempting to mainstream them? Or is what we are doing simply something to make their parents feel better about the unfortunate situations in which their children live?

    The hard-hearted Dana (474dfc)

  91. Well FWIW, my pediatrician thinks 90% of ADD diagnosis are pure fabrications and highly discriminatory to boys.

    They have ADD b/c the way (and subjects) they are being taught are boring, unimaginative and geared towards the female sex.

    To boot, physical activity and any type of aggression are frowned upon thus further “increasing the ADD” b/c their is no OUTLET for the boys energy. Winning in a physical activity? OUCH. Being aggressive in the classroom? Attention hog.

    So … I agree. School today is for underachieving f*gs and girls — and IMHO EDUCATORS are to blame for lots of it but Parents aren’t helping either.

    HeavenSent (ae267e)

  92. because the public has “spoken” about how much it is willing to spend on the education of our children, so, we should find a way to make do….

    – the citizens have said it is unimportant and once spoken it can never be discussed ever again no matter how bad the system is.

    And that attitude is why Louisiana will always be a joke when people discuss its education system

    voiceofreason2 (84baa2)

  93. When my daughter was in school, the administrators said something that made me think back to when I was in school. And I realized a lot of what they said was going on back then, too, only to a lesser degree.

    “We intentionally try to blend our classes with the smartest kids and the slowest kids.” (Not an exact quote since it was 8 years ago, but you get the idea.) Why do that? You cause the smartest kids to be trapped in an unchallenging environment, where they learn the best grade possible is an A-4 (1: outstanding effort, 4:no effort). The smartest kids beat their heads against the wall in an effort to be challenged but to no avail and eventually give up. All to prevent the self-esteem of the slower kids to be bruised in any way.

    This is the liberal-kook reason for some areas having “no scoring” organized sports for their kids. “We don’t want to bruise their self-esteem.” But the kids keep score themselves — in the sports and in the schools. This liberal gobbledygook is a failure to everybody from the word “go.”

    John Hitchcock (ef16dd)

  94. […] with this example from Patterico. A blogger at the Houston Chronicle’s MomHouston blog is appalled at a letter an elementary […]

    Joke or Not « Something should go here, maybe later. (ca511f)


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