Guest Blogs

Accommodations, Not “Accountability”

We need practical solutions for our special ed students, not political-speak!

I blogged recently about how I felt compelled to write a guest commentary in response to an article in our local paper, the Ames Tribune, about the Ames Community School District being placed on the No Child Left Behind watchlist, due in part to the failure of our special ed program. Now the Tribune has another article about District students’ performance. Reading it made me crazy.

Susan Pecinovsky, the district’s Executive Director for Curriculum and Instruction, is quoted as saying that students in special education and students in families living at low socioeconomic levels are, indeed, subgroups of students that bear watching. The special ed program at my daughter’s school, Sawyer Elementary, was specifically cited as failing to meet 2008-09 progress goals. Okay, we’re admitting there’s a problem. That’s a good place to start. Now, what is the district planning to do about it?

“…the district already has tools in place to meet its goals going forward. We are ratcheting up our monitoring, our collaborative conversation and our accountability,” Pecinovsky said.

Sounds to me like a whole lot of nothing.

Enough with the political-speak! Where are the specifics, Ms. Pecinovsky? What about Sawyer’s overcrowded, overstimulating, full-of-distractions resource room? And the way-too-high ratio of students to special ed teachers? Or the lack of a summer school or summer tutoring program for special ed students?

“Monitoring,” “collaborative conversation,” and “accountability” don’t placate me, they make me crazy! Our kids deserve better than that.

The only thing “ratcheting up” is my anger at the system.