Guardians Of The Galaxy & Special Education

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy

I just got back from seeing Guardians of the Galaxy with my son. It was a great movie, and everything I expect from a Marvel movie. With that being said, it made me think about special education. You can draw several comparisons between the Guardians and special needs children.

The Guardians are a group of five misfit heroes who start out on individual paths, but come together to fight the evil Kree Empire. While doing so, they save the lives of the citizens of Xandar. Starlord is their reluctant leader. Forced to deal with his mother’s death and a missing father, he is whisked away by Yondu as a child and is raised amongst a group of alien pirates. Gamora, a green-skinned alien, was adopted by the evil Thanos when he ravaged her planet. Drax the Destroyer is out for revenge against a Kree assassin named Ronan and Thanos. Rocket Raccoon is a sarcastic technical genius who was rebuilt as a walking talking raccoon. And Groot, all the kids will love Groot. Loveable, huggable, cuddable Groot. A walking tree who can only say three words: “I am Groot”.

You could say the Guardians are like special needs children. They have to deal with their anger and feelings of abandonment and group together in order to move forward. They are all vastly different, living lives of non-inclusion, until circumstances draw them together. The citizens of Xandar are the special needs parents and the regular parents who are against a universe ruled by a tyrant. The Nova Corps, the protectors of the realm, are the Badass Teachers, trying to make the universe a better place of peace and harmony. They want to allow people to have the freedom they deserve and to live without unnecessary compliance and micro-management.

The evil Kree Empire are the corporate educational reformers, charter schools that discriminate, and all those who favor a universe where everyone needs to be the same. The Infinity Stone, an object of immense power is Common Core and standardized testing. In the wrong hands, it is a force of destruction. Arne Duncan, the US Secretary of Education, is Ronan the Accuser. He judges people who don’t fit his narrow view of the world. So who is the puppet master behind everything? The evil Thanos? That would be Bill Gates, the billionaire Microsoft founder. The one who wants to destroy everything educators worked so hard for.

The Guardians learn the value of friendship when the epiphany strikes them that despite their differences, they can do good in the universe. But they know if they don’t stop evil, they will be forced to live in a universe under the thrall of those who only want to destroy and make slaves of living beings. Sound familiar at all? That’s because this is going on now, in our very own country, with special education. So exceptional children and parents and badass teachers, let’s save the galaxy from the evil empire.

*I do not condone violence as depicted in the movie. Any comparisons are meant to show how people with differences are often hunted by those who do evil.

Meet the new Chief Accountability and Performance officer for the Delaware DOE. More choice, accountability, and TFA straight up gap closing bullshit.

Another believer in what I don’t believe in with education. Just great.

Googling “Delaware Charter Schools Network” “Special Education” #netde #eduDE @DelawareBATS

I found no specific articles, mentions, or actual things being said by Delaware Charter School Network about special education. This is the organization that is the cheerleader for Delaware’s charter schools. How is it even possible, with a statewide special education population rate of over 13%, that this organization can’t talk about special ed? They have been around a long time. The only mentions that come up are special ed teacher jobs that show up on their job board, and mentions about charter schools they cater to and special education issues.

This is why charter schools have been found to discriminate against students with special needs. How can you promote charter schools and virtually ignore 13% or more of the population in your state? Kendall Massett, executive director of DCSN, is always crying about how charter schools have to “do more with less”. The reason for that is because you don’t get as much funding due to not taking as many low income, minority, and special education students. Of course your funding would be less.

In June of 2012, 1000 children from charter schools around Delaware held a rally at Legislative Hall in Dover, DE. According to a Delaware Newszap article from May 11, 2012, the students were told to chant “When we work hard, we get smart,” and “Charter schools are good for me. Charter schools are always free. Charter schools are good for you. Charter schools are public too,” or “Charter schools give parents choice. Charter students, raise your voice!” To have children promoting your ideology in such a way sounds almost like brainwashing to me. How would so many young children know what school choice is?

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But are they good for special needs children? If they are going to Gateway or Positive Outcomes, they certainly are. But as for the rest of the charters in Delaware? I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Earlier this week, I tweeted the public information officer for the Delaware Charter Schools Network, Catherine Nessa. I asked her why the Delaware Charter Schools Network never talks about special education. We went back and forth on other topics, but she ignored that question entirely. I wonder why…

Learning To Care

Atticus Finch and Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird are in my top ten list of fictional characters. There is a lot we can learn from this novel, especially in terms of special needs children. We all need to care more.

WagTheDog

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If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

~ Atticus Finch, ( Gregory Peck) “To Kill A Mockingbird”

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Back To School: A Guide for Special Needs Parents #netde #eduDE

It’s August 1st, and for many of us this means a return to school in the next thirty days. Most of us should find out what teachers are children will have this month. Once you do, it may not be a bad idea to contact the special education case manager at your school to set up a brief transition IEP meeting. Summer can be a long time for special needs kids, and teachers need to be aware of any new events that may have occurred. If your child is going to a new school this school year, I would recommend having an IEP meeting as soon as possible.

Aside from the frenzy of shopping for school supplies, I would talk to your child about any apprehension or fear they have for returning to school. Find out what their true fears are, whether it is bullying or an increased workload in school. Reassure them, but also watch them and let the school team know what those feelings are.

For parents who may have children on a 504 plan, take a hard look at the plan to make sure it is the best fit for your child. If they qualify medically for an IEP, you may want to take those first steps to request one and this would be requesting an IEP in writing now. A fact to always remember is that a medical diagnosis doesn’t guarantee an IEP. The purpose of an IEP is to give special education if the disability or condition affects educational outcome. You don’t want too much time to pass in the school year where your child could be getting accommodations that can benefit their educational outcome.

Most states have different timelines for the IEP process, and parents need to know what those are. Do some research on your state DOE website to determine what you need to know. IDEA law states that if a parent doesn’t agree with an evaluation the school does then you can request an independent evaluation at the school district or charter school’s expense. The school may deny the request, but you can file for due process in that event.

My best advice is to work together with the school. Let them know about your child if they don’t already. Schools usually don’t respond well to demands, but at the same time you need to advocate for your child. It can be a very slippery slope, but don’t go to extremes unless you absolutely have to.