They study the dates of each day consisting the week but it does not necessarily mean that they all stay in that position the entire day. This has already been the children’s routine from Joan Radigan’s class at Public School 295 in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn. At one certain instance, Ms. Radigan had to leave her students while studying the calendar due to the occurrence of an interruption. A boy just stood up and walked towards the door so she had no choice but to follow him and bring him back to the rug — this was not the first time that she had ever done it. With the help of her two trained classroom assistants, Ms. Radigan has managed to help this boy with his 10 classmates at P.S. 295. These kids need more than just a simple education. They also need an extra care and understanding, knowing that they are not the typical children that we normally see — these kids suffer from autism spectrum and learning disabilities and it is Ms. Radigan’s responsibility to watch over them and help them progress with hopes that they will be combined with the normal kids into regular classrooms next year. It is not a normal procedure in P.S. 295 to sort out normal children from the ones with special needs because they usually move into classes with other children in order to have a balanced attention to everyone. Teachers call this process an inclusion. Most students did not meet the progress they expected from the inclusion class with Ms. Radigan so the staff has finally decided to give the students with special needs a separate class. Most observers believe that this idea is a makeshift and it looks like a huge step astern. Based on a study, there are approximately 165,000 special ed students and there are more than one third of them are in separate classes more often than not in a school day. This is reported to have a bigger percentage of kids having separate class compared to Chicago and Los Angeles. Some people in the academic community believe that strategies less than the full inclusion may affect the special ed students adversely and will later on lead to poor graduation rates since only 30% of special ed students graduated in four years in New York City which is less than the average. Julie Causton-Theoharis, assistant professor of teaching at Syracuse University noted that schools in other districts from Concord, New Hampshire to Charlotte, North Carolina now have trained staffs in a fully-inclusive classroom for special Ed students. Though they found out that the test scores for children who have undergone fully-inclusive classes have went up, city officials still believe that principal training and flexibility are the core to their continuous efforts to recondition the special education practices. Ms. Deana Marco, principal of P.S. 295 is among those 265 school principals and teachers getting extra course through the Education Department’s new reform effort to serve every child in the neighborhood school. She believes that it will be a big change and progress will not be impossible knowing that a child could be sent to another school if no progress has ever been attained from the other. There have been a lot of debates and studies regarding full inclusion and a few local public schools have already shifted towards it ans Queens and P.S. 396 in the Bronx are among those. There have been a lot of positive and negative reactions from academic officers all over the place. Shael Polakow-Suransky, New York City’s chief academic officer said that it all depends on the budget. Given enough funds, they could have more training and options like bringing a specialist into the regular class or pulling a child out of class for a certain period of reading help. Ms. Radigan stands by her school’s decision, giving the kindergartens and first-graders an extra year with her. She expects that the students will later on be geared up to join a regular class next fall. She is quite confident that the outcome will be positive especially when the changes in special education go citywide.
February 22, 2021
February 22, 2021