The Educator's PLN

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Getting the same technology for students in specialized classrooms as the gen. ed. classrooms

Hello everyone! I have been in Special Education for more than 34 years.I am currently a retiree who has returned to the classroom and am teaching a high school Autism class. In all my time I have seen many things change, both as a teacher and as an administrator. But the one thing that hasn't changed is equal access to technology and other materials that are given to the general education classrooms. When it comes to deciding what to spend the budget on, we may start out with a "wishlist" but when it comes time to reduce that list, it is the special populations who have their requests cut first. Now we are required to follow the same standards as the general ed. students but at a different level. The students also have an alternative assessment which they must take and it covers the curriculum and so there is a lot of the same information that have to know. However, we are not  given the materials needed to instruct our students as the general ed. classes are. My students specifically would benefit from having iPads and using communication apps. The specialized classes however are the only classes who did not receive iPads when they were ordered and handed out.

I have been fighting these battles for more than thirty years. As an administrator, I knew what my special needs students needed but I didn't have the same type of grant money many schools have today. I was lucky to get textbooks for all students, including those with special needs, let alone anything beyond. But now, with the accountability and the push for 21 century skills, these students are still being left behind. Why? Because they only count for 1% of the school over all performance scores. I have always felt that despite the passing of time,  education will never be equitable and will always be exclusive to those who are able to learn quickly and easily while those who struggle to learn due to their background, home life or low intellect are present in the classroom or in the school but are not given much consideration. 

If I am wrong about this, please enlighten and educate me because as I have said, for 34+ years I have advocated and fought to get what my students need to access the curriculum and have made very little progress and have seen very little change.  I would like to know if there are others in the same battle and how you deal with it. 

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Replies to This Discussion

In our district we have been fortunate to pass a tech referendum and this has provided equal technology to all the kids--especially in Special ed. We have a lot of kids who require assistive tech. I am not a Special ed teacher but doesn't PL 94-142 require equal distribution and least restrictive environment? That seem like something I would take to my union rep.

You are correct which makes this a even more sad situation. It can easily be said that the students with disabilities who are included in the general education classrooms do receive the same level of technology as their non-disabled peers. However, for those students, who are not able to be included because their disability is such that they need a different curriculum, are most often the ones who would benefit the most from the same level of technology as their non-disabled peers but are the ones who are cut out of the budget for that technology when those types of decisions have to be made. There is only so much money, who should get the technology? Fortunately, since posting this (2014) there has been great improvement. It took a lot of advocating, protesting, and pushing on our part but we were finally able to get what we needed for our students. But we shouldn't have had to go through all that. Our students are same age peers in the same grade level and should be included automatically whether they are in the general ed classroom or not. But it doesn't happen that way. I am no longer with that district however I am seeing that special education still takes a backseat or even a cellar level of recognition when it comes to providing for all students when the money is tight. Even with the Federal money set aside for special ed, it is difficult to get what is needed. 

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