Thursday, October 17, 2013

Josh Radinsky and Gabriella Iselin at Devon Bank

Tip o' the hat to West Rogers Park Community Organization, which put on a forum called "What's Your Public Education IQ?" last night at Devon Bank. By the way, tip of the hat to Devon Bank. I sat in the front and filmed. If you want to see the whole thing, here it is. The remarkable Becky Vevea from WBEZ moderated.

Over the next few days, I'm going to pull out clips from the evening and comment on them. Please feel free to chime in in the comments.

First off, Josh Radinsky from UIC.  There are few people with his experience or scholarship. I'm trying to think of anyone else in the room with similar credentials, and I'm drawing a blank. Take a listen.

"I think it’s crucial that we have schools that are mandated to serve the kids in our neighborhoods.” 

“The charter schools do  serve some kids with special needs, and I know that that’s true. More than 80%  of those kids in those charter schools, though, are ‘LRE-1 kids' (Least restrictive environment #1), which means that they have less severe disabilities. Those are kids with learning disabilities. Kids like my son, in general, are not served, and I feel that the charter schools would be hard-pressed to serve kids with severe disabilities, given that they are small independent operations, and we’re in a gigantic city.”

                                                                                              ----Josh Radinsky

The charter people almost always continue to point out that they have similar numbers, only slightly fewer, of special education students, but they gloss over the point that Josh makes about the types of special education students included in the numbers.  In my observation, it's just another data point in a graph that begins to look like a picture of creaming. Creaming away the easy-to-teach, and leaving the neighborhood schools with the kids who have the most challenges.

By the way, I work in a school where profoundly differently abled kids go to school in the same building as everyone else. The whole idea is based on a rather antique notion that we're all in this together. 

Here's Mather teacher Gabriella Iselin introducing herself. I'm old enough to realize that I'm living in remarkable times; there's this bizarre, bipartisan attack on the schools occurring, and yet there are also all of these amazing, powerful leaders emerging from the ranks of everyday teachers and everyday parents. Almost all of them are women. 

"Despite this tremendous pride that we have, there’s also tremendous frustration and anger with CPS. 
It’s hard to work for an organization that imposes policies that are harmful to kids by way of curriculum, instruction, and budget initiatives that are foisted on us with little to no planning or foresight of any kind. You would think sound planning would be the bedrock of a school district but I have found that this is not the case at CPS." --- Gabriella Iselin

When I think of people like Gabriella Iselin, I think of the importance of tenure, or as it should probably be known as in the K12 world, due process. Without the protection of due process, a person like Ms. Iselin could never say these words in the presence of a network chief in a vindictive district in an unelected environment where the mayor is who he is.  And yet she doesn't even flinch to do so. I wish more people were like her; I wish I had been so when it was my turn.

Much, much more to come over the next few days. Please, go ahead and comment. 

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