Not sure if looking for advice or just to let off steam.
My DS is in 2nd grade at public school. We have had 1 major problem, which was dealt with professionally and right away. In all respects the school is what we want. We are very happy with his teachers, his classmates, his friends. It is literally right down the street, which makes it perfect for casual play dates. He is thriving.
My DD just started at the same school. Huge budget cuts this year. This year the government cut all funding for special classes. They are calling it "inklusion" to put a nice spin on it. This is the whole city and beyond, not the local school. What it means is all handicapped children must attend the regular school, without any additional help or support, and with the regular teacher, who has NO training in helping these kids. It is not fair to these kids, who NEED extra help and support and can not handle the regular classroom. It is not fair to the teacher, who I know is trying her very best, but still has to spend 90% of her time on the three children in my daughters class, and has only 10% left for the other 22 children. Who have obviously not learned much or done much this year. And it is not fair for the 22 kids, who are being pulled back - severely. And it is not fair for my DD. Which HAS to be my main concern.
I can not move her to another public school, because the same policy is affecting them all.
I will ask to move her to the other class. But every other parent is doing the same, so not confident that will work.
I can let her be, and hope that the budget will return next year, so that at least 2 of these kids can get the services they need in a special class. The school they attend has a very good special class, except for this crazy rule this year that no new kids are allowed to attend it. However, I think this is too passive and naive and will not just wait and hope.
I can move her to private school. If there are even spots. Many of the other parents in the city are in the same boat I am in, so they are all jumping out to private schools. So chances are slim.
Then I have worry about disrupting my 7yo son if we transfer him as well. My kids are the best of friends and would love to go to school together. However my son has a great class where he is. Plus it takes him a while to warm up to people, and I am worried putting him in a new class will make him the outsider to all the other kids who have been together for 3 years already. Ugh - so conflicted.
First of all, I am not an education expert, just a public school parent, so other posters, please feel free to correct what I write if it's inaccurate. This is my understanding of the situation based on our school district.
* I believe inclusion is the law, not due to budget cuts. In our area, some schools implemented this gradually and well (district where my DH teaches), while others waited and rushed, which caused difficulties (my kids' district).
* The teachers SHOULD have training AND supports if they are teaching the inclusion class. This was/is being handled not so well in our district. Teachers got very little training before inclusion was introduced and supports have been taken away progressively (going from 2 teachers in the classroom to just aides coming in part-time).
* Some kids who are experiencing difficulties may end up with IEPs and other help they need and are entitled to, but the school has to go through every step of the process before that can happen and it can take a while.
I suggest you get together with the other parents and go to the principal and administration to voice your concerns. It sounds like there is a difficult situation going on that isn't serving *any* of the kids or the teacher well, so maybe banding together and making some noise will help get some extra resources. The squeaky wheel gets the grease in our district.
Mom "D" to DD1 "Z" (14) and DD2 "I" (11) DH "M"
Allison, remind us, you are still outside the US, right? Ragana, I believe Allison is in Denmark.
In the US, inclusion is not strictly the law, but instead "least restrictive environment," which quite often means inclusion. Inclusion happens with appropriate special education support, generally in the form of aids or push-in specialists. When done right, this is something that can really benefit everyone. Even when done right, though, inclusion can difficult for many classrooms for a variety of reasons. You don't appear to be seeing any support for the inclusion, and therefore it is not an asset, but a detriment to the other children.
Yes, talk to the administration.
Can you and other parents help in the classroom? I wonder if more bodies (even less trained) could help. Otherwise, ugh, this isn't the environment for a solid education for anyone.
Hi, Yes I am in Denmark. It is pure budget cuts. No extra hands, no extra teachers, no training, and I mean zero, for the teachers... Everyone is losing in this. We have a meeting tomorrow. We will request that either my DD gets moved to the other class, or a guarantee that two specific kids are re-evaluated and moved into the special class next year. Problem is, I don't think the school can guarantee this - they think they should be in the special class, they would have been in any other year, but no one knows what will happen with the new laws.
Allison I have no thoughts to add - perhaps a question or comment to add.
So is the famed education system falling apart? i know your government spends almost 9 percent of their budget in education - the highest in the world if i remember right. I had heard of recession hitting but not this hard. your question had me googling more info on education cuts and was shocked to know its almost as bad as California. I see schools closing in Denmark and lots of teachers losing their jobs. Forget adult education.
and you guys still pay 54% income tax right?!!! and now you have to pay for private school possibly?!!!
will your dd manage for a year without services and hopefully move next year.
Well, we have been to the 4 local private schools and put her on the waiting list for 3. The 4th was so full they have closed their waiting list. The other 3 have waiting lists of about 20 kids each. So it is highly improbable that she will get into any of them. Just not realistic. We are totally scr****. Backup plan - we could get her into the international school, which is very new and just getting it's sea legs, but most of the students are here temporarily (parents on 2 or 3 year work contract) and since we are staying, then she will be constantly losing her friends. We could try to get her into one of the other local public schools, but that is rolling dice to find out if it is better or worse. There is a steiner school here, but my husband is totally opposed. I understand his logic. The steiner school kids have to end up repeating a year at a regular public school in order to get an actual education before they can get into high school, because they all flunk the test. Another really crazy option: we could sell our house and move into a smaller house in a "better" neighborhood, which would guarantee her a spot at the "better" public schools. Not only is this really crazy, but I think we would not fit. We fit in our current neighborhood. I am an artistic, liberal type. I am not one to have a million things and the perfect makeup and socialize with the upper crust. I can do it, I was raised in it myself, I just don't want to.
I sat in on the class today. I do not feel better. It confirmed my opinion that we must move her. I am in shock actually. It was one of those things that if you made a secret video and posted it on youtube the entire county would go down. And, NO, I am not going there. Nope, not now, not ever.
Off topic. Taxes. We pay nearly 60% in taxes, not 54. Yes, world's highest. Tax on salary is only about 41-45% (except things like bonus, they are over 50%), but then we pay 25% tax on everything we buy, plus extra taxes on luxury items, unhealthy items (I agree with this - cigarettes should cost a ton to buy, I don't mind an extra tax on sugared cereals...), and other taxes that I can not even begin to explain. Like 180% tax on a car (so a 20,000 dollar car will cost 36,000 dollars), plus car checkup every 2 years for extra 100 dollars, and gas with all the taxes is currently 16 us dollars per gallon (12 kroner per liter, 3.785 liters pr gallon).
Those are very tough options. The international school may work out well, if the school itself seems like a good fit for your DD. You could try it while keeping her on the waiting list for the private schools - or hopefully the public school situation may improve (they should be hiring sufficient support staff to assist students who need extra services). It can be very difficult when friends move on but you can take steps to mitigate that problem. If your DD is involved in a few long-term, ongoing extra-curriculars (swim team, drama group, choir....) she will have a fairly stable set of friends outside of school. It may not be ideal but it may be better than her current situation.
Good luck with making a difficult choice.
Is there any possibility of homeschooling? Barring that, I think the international school would be very much worth looking into. Being able to possibly help shape the making of a school in its early stages is kind of an empowering prospect. On the flipside of losing any friends geographically after 2-3 years is the bonus of having connections and an interest in countries around the globe.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
Update: two weeks ago, one of the children who needs extra help was seated at the table across from my daughter. The large table "just accidentally fell over, all by itself". The corner of the table punctured my daughters hand, swelling up all her fingers and turning them blue-black. Luckily no broken bones. Yesterday this same child pushed another little girl into a cabinet so hard that they had to take her to ER, due to head trauma. We went to another public school in the next district and have her signed up. She will start there directly after the summer holidays. This was so stressful, but now finally we have a way out with the other public school. And we might also get lucky if a private school spot opens up.
hmmm i am a little confused. i dont see the yipppeee here at all.
you will move your dd - but after the summer holidays - that means in july or august right? she has to be in school all these months rights till summer break right? but for someone who felt all options were closed, this is a godsend.
how is changing schools going to solve the problem? they just might have similar kids themselves. the government is not changing any of its policies right? i wonder if there is some organisation following up and keeping statistics to see how this new policy really affects children. or is it because you have checked the schools out and they dont have SN kids presently and the likelihood of them getting some is negligent.
did the waitlist just open up or because of your recent school incidents they decided to take you.
Irrestpective of all this, i am glad you feel relief and some hope in the future.
Ahhh, excellent news that you have an end is sight for this situation.
As others have alluded to, are any steps being taken to keep these kids safe in the classroom? 5-6 months can be a long time in such an environment.
Meemee, no the gov't isn't changing anything. My guess, and it is a guess, is that in traditional danish style, it will take 2 or 3 years for the public and gov't to realize this is a bad policy. And then another 2 years to go back to the previous policy. As I said, it is pure budget cuts with a friendly name put on it. How many kids have to go to the ER before this happens I do not know. How many classes will be pulled down, how many teachers will end up sick with stress... I do not know. But I know now that after the summer holidays my daughter will be safe. And she will be able to get an education. And although the whole country policy is important to me, what has to be the most important to me is my child. We could have moved her sooner, but are waiting out the school year hoping that a spot in a private school opens up. This is so she has one school transfer, not two.
Update. One child has been moved to a special school. One child has been moved to a special class in another grade in the same school. One child will repeat the grade next year. At least two of them are now getting the special attention and support that they need. It is too late for us though. We got no, no, no, no. No, we could not move our DD from group A to group B. No, we could not let her take danish or math in 1st grade instead of 0. No, we could not skip her from 0 to 1st (the principal actually laughed at this, granted, it is nearly unheard of, and quite immoral in this country - goes against the whole culture, which is centered around Janteloven). No, no, no. So we switched to another public school, starting after summer holidays. So then when they saw the paperwork, then suddenly they are willing to allow her pull-out for Danish in 1st!? Go ahead, but it is too little, too late. Not just because of the class, but because of their inflexibility. It was like pulling teeth, and they are only willing to do something if we pull our child. I am sure that if we said, ok, will will keep her, they would pull the rug out under us again. I can't be pulling teeth for the next 9 years. Luckily a spot opened up at our first priority private school. So now our biggest question is whether we move DD and DS, or just DD. But it is a joy to have this type of problem instead.
Also, there is no classes for the whole country right now. The government passed new rules for teachers which included less prep hours and more in the classroom. The teachers did not agree. So the local government union is preventing the teachers from going to school - it's called a LOCKOUT. This is now week 3 of the LOCKOUT. Kids have to go to work with their parents, bebabysat by grandparents, parents are taking all their vacation days... The lockout will probably continue until mid-may, when the union runs out of money. Now the union says it will take out a loan, so maybe even longer. Pretty soon no one will have any vacation days left and where will the kids go? My DDs class we are 5 moms, we each take one day off work and take the 5, the next day the next mom does it. But a day off work every single week for months on end is not going to be fun. A least it is the whole country, and every public school, so companies can not really punish the parents too hard, they have to watch their kids. At least the young ones like mine, who are 6 and 8 years old. I can't leave a 6yo at home from 8am to 5pm by herself.
Oh Allison I am so happy for you that the spot opened up and your child does not have to go through that nightmare situation.
but on teh other hand HOLY CRAP!!!! wow!!! the union lobby is THAT strong.