Why Students with Disabilities get Suspended.

Written in response to an article in the NY Times,

Suspensions Are Higher for Disabled Students, Federal Data Indicate

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By
Published: August 7, 2012

It’s money. Public money, from taxes.
And the article got it right; teachers have larger classes and no support structure. And an evaluation that will measure their effectiveness in teaching the class at the end of the year.
So if you’re a teacher with 35 or more students in a class, and one or more of the students require extra time and attention, you can only provide that at the expense of the non-disabled. You cannot take time to counsel a disruptive student who is also often disobedient (it’s why he’s disruptive, after all) and there’s no place to send him. Choice: suspend that student and get on with the class, or see the rest of the students waste the period without getting the information you planned.
It’s all well and good to ‘include’ students with disabilities, but the flip side is that teachers MUST HAVE SMALLER CLASSES. Even then, a student who can’t keep up is going to be frustrated. And likely bored, and soon he’s disrupting other students. And they, the disrupted, complain to the teacher.
Much of the problem arises from discipline. The students have never been taught self-discipline. For whatever reason they’ve not been required to develop this skill. Life has never handed them boredom and forced them to turn inward to combat it. There have been TV programs, or video games, or a cell phone, or whatever. If you don’t like what’s on TV, change the channel. But you can’t change the channel in class. And so, if you’re an easily distracted and bored student, what do you do? You attempt to gain the attention of other students around you. You disrupt.
Teachers who teach resource classes have smaller numbers of students and typically one or more aides.
Somehow, putting those same students into a regular classroom (which doesn’t have the gifted and talented; those have already been removed to special classes) of 35 or more students and one teacher, means that suddenly they will cooperate and learn math and chemistry and physics and biology. Or reading; they’re almost always below-average in reading ability. Which requires more, not less, teacher attention, attention that then can’t be provided to non-disabled students.
As currently designed, the inclusion policy is a failure. It can work, but only if money is provided. For every 1 to 5 students with special needs, there needs to be one aide in the classroom who can assist the teacher and provide individual attention from an adult as needed. And there needs to be more resources available for students who begin to disrupt, a place to sent them until they’ve calmed down.
Or you can keep suspending them. And in time, they’ll be locked up, a kind of suspension-from-society.
And each time a student disrupts and is referred to the Vice Principal’s office (remember, there’s no place else to send them), a form must be filled out by the teacher. During class. The office won’t accept the student without the form. Five minutes to fill out the form, while the class loses interest, the teacher is distracted, and then another 5 minutes to get everyone back on track after the disruptive student has gone. This from a class that’s typically an hour or shorter in length.
And of course, evaluate the teacher on how well he/she teaches, without regard to the fact that they only have the middle-to-lower students in class, not the top performers; those have been selected out.
That’s the reality of teaching. About half of teachers leave the profession in the first 5 years.

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