Practical Access Podcast

S5 E4: Lost Learning in SPED

June 17, 2021 Season 5 Episode 4
Practical Access Podcast
S5 E4: Lost Learning in SPED
Show Notes Transcript

Today, Dr. Rebecca Hines shares a useful website called Disability Scoop that highlights articles in the Special Education realm. In this episode, Drs. Rebecca Hines and Lisa Dieker detail a specific article, Sent Home Early: Lost Learning in Special Education. 

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 Link to Article:

Season 5 Episode 4

Lisa Dieker
Welcome to Practical Access I'm Lisa Dieker.

Rebecca Hines 00:04
And I'm Rebecca Hines.

Lisa Dieker 00:06
Alright, and Rebocki here you have a scoop for us today, I had to go there, sorry.

Rebecca Hines 00:11
It's funny because A, it's funny that you can't pronounce my name but B I'm thrilled to be actually getting to do, the one thing when we started talking about what our focus would be for our summer podcasts, I kept saying, "I want to do some ripped from the headlines" and you're like "what" and I could not get you out of those journal articles. I am going to share an article that I read online and we will hopefully have the link to it in our information line and this article is called Sent home early: Lost learning in special education. Now, this is from a website called Disability Scoop so if you're like me and you like to just see like what's the latest, what's happening Disability Scoops a good website for, and it'll pull in different articles, a wide variety of topics, so if you're interested in just reading light articles, you know, in the special ED realm. It's an example of a good place that you can just log into when you want to read a few articles. So in this particular one this, this article is about this controversial practice of cutting the school day short for some kids because of their behavior and I'm not talking about cutting the school day short just you know, incidentally, when things happen I'm talking about schools unilaterally saying, okay well we're going to shorten your child's day to half-day because, you know, she doesn't have the behavior to maintain it all day long. And the, the article starts talking about one specific little girl who didn't even have, she was not labeled with, she didn't have an IEP yet, but when she was in school, she got in trouble for not listening, hitting, etc, and her parents wanted to get her a special ED designation so that she could get supports. But instead, the school administrator said that no this little girl can't handle full days so we're gonna put her on half days so this is really controversial because it actually goes against the law for one thing.

Lisa Dieker 02:34
Yes, there's this thing called IDEA.

Rebecca Hines 02:36
Well, and again, even if it's even, even beyond IDEA because she wasn't labeled yet, but you know advocates would say that free appropriate public education, you know just for anyone, and so this parent kept arguing well, what are you, what are you talking about and so a couple of things to unpack here Lisa. You know, first of all from the, from the school side I understand. You have a kid who comes to school and she has behaviors far from the norm, and you can't have her hitting people and all of these things and you know wanna keep everybody safe, I totally get it, but you know and I know that instructional time is the highest correlate with achievement in school. So if you reduce someone's instructional time you are, by default, reducing their opportunity to learn, you know, so it becomes a real a controversial case and then you know from, according to this article, there are, this wasn't an isolated incident. There's, you know, kids who have been kind of quietly set to the side and had their school day shortened, and now it's, it's really front and center and it's topical right now, too, because now with online learning are schools going to do this and say well we're providing your, your content online so come half-day and will force you to go half day. You know, I think it brings up a lot of issues so Lisa what are, what are your thoughts in general about the idea of just you know, making a decision to restrict a student's school day.

Lisa Dieker 04:20
Well I'm going to go back to my favorite philosopher, and that is Dewey, who says, you know, "look not for the fault of the child, but in the teaching of the child," and you know, I never as a teacher or a parent felt like I failed, but I always would pivot and say, but if my child or my student is acting that way what can I choose to do differently. So got a little Glasser in there too and I think if you really look at what we often see as the top expert in a school which we often see is a BCBA a certified behavior analyst, that person doesn't come in and make the kid stop they look at what's causing the behavior and a pathway to change that between the adult and the child. And so I do think, from my own personal experience and from often the experience when I work with families is often the student is the one who is expected to change, instead of the system. And I think this half-day is another chance to blame the child. Well, if we just make you go home earlier you'll be better. Well no, I'm not any better you just didn't have to put up with me the other half in the day, and so I think we're missing that really critical piece that you and I both think is so important. Now, we're getting a little heavy here so I'll try to go back to life, but it's social-emotional learning. Like that's what we dislike about summer like I don't know about you, but some of the kids that come back and I'm like what happened to your ability to walk in the door, and not say "hey butthead" instead of "hi Mrs. Deiker," you know so a lot of retraining has to happen and so kids getting shorter time also is less time to teach that critical piece which is social-emotional learning so that's, that's my...

Rebecca Hines 06:03
Yeah, yeah and in the case of this family, you know the article kind of kicks off with this one family, and you know, in this case, they did end up getting their daughter identified with an emotional impairment so that she could at least get services and have an IEP. They did you know put her part, part-day in a separate class, but they also, you know, the school tried to write into her behavior intervention plan that she would be picked up early if she couldn't get her behavior under control and the parent refused to sign so...

Lisa Dieker 06:40
My favorite is "I'm calling your mother, do you know how many times, teachers called me and I'm like and I'm in a podcast with Rebecca Hines, let's see if I can say right that time, with Becky, and what am I supposed to do? Like am I supposed, you know, I can put him on the phone but, but I think oftentimes when the adult gets desperate, we need to step back, take a deep breath and say what can we do to recalibrate. And, and you know again when somebody says, I need to send a kid home early, my question is, so what have you done? Now, it's very different if that's what the team wants. You know I think we got to be reminded

Rebecca Hines 07:12
That's a really good...

Lisa Dieker 07:16
Mom and dad and the school together might say look a half a day is all this child medically can handle because they're medically fatigued. That's a very different statement than "you will leave early" or "I want my child to leave early" it's really got to be that partnership which... 

Rebecca Hines 07:33
I think that's kind of my takeaway from this too because there's another family who's, who's cited in here who had kind of a you know, a young man with autism and he did have an IEP and, you know, they did meet to determine whether reducing his school day was something appropriate for some of the reasons that you just mentioned. Now, in this other family's case though they, and in several others that are cited in the article, the problem was it was written in there and the parents were kind of led to believe that this was something that would gently be scaffold and then the problem is once they do it, they just don't take it out of the IEP so the kid ends up with reduced time ongoing.

Lisa Dieker 08:22
Yeah and I tell you, you just hit on like my like I like the hairs on the back of my neck stood up so if you could see us on this podcast because that is one of my pet peeves in the world is we remove kids without a reentry plan and I didn't see that word here. You know again IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, said we're supposed to give the least restrictive, but what happens is once kids are moved we never bring them back, and I know we've said this before there is no self-contained McDonald's or Hardee's I haven't seen a sign yet that says only kids that have bad behavior can eat here or work here live here. And so we know society is the goal, but I do love the word in here that was and you just said it again is this re-entry. Again, what is the phase back to generalize but too many schools remove kids and don't have a plan for returning them whether it's half a day or it's just to take them out for reading intervention. And you know, being a parent myself I can't tell you how many times, oh he'll need more like I know you want to get you more because you want to put up with him less. I respect that, but at the same time that more isn't better than having friends and liking yourself and learning how to persevere when tasks are hard, which we just you know, in the earlier podcast talked about being successful in life. So I do think the entry is missing.

Rebecca Hines 09:39
Reentry is definitely missing, and you know even back to your point and it's what we've been talking about often recently. We do need to look at the environment, yes, I am aware it's, I'm not saying that we want someone to pose a threat to other students by biting and kicking, etc. However, I don't want those things to happen when that person's an adult or, as you said, in the fast-food restaurant or anywhere else, where he's going to get arrested for it either. So, someone has to be supporting this child and someone has to be trying to help this child, and if the parents, believe me, if the parents had the skill to do it, they would have already changed it because that behavior's not fun for them either. So you know we understand it's an issue, but maybe we need to think differently about you know what kind of supports we're providing in our school and you know what we can do to support the kids. And now one of the other things, Lisa, that was interesting in here to me was this idea of reporting, so one of the, one of the advocates who's cited in here finally pushed the government in 2016 to release some guidelines that at least clarified that if people were going to send kids home, you know as a part of their reduced school time that it had to be reported. And, but they so far have stopped short of requiring it to be reported so there's, there's guidance out there, but it's nothing that has been formally imposed and so bottom line is, it is an issue. I think it's going to increasingly be an issue now that there's other online opportunities for the actual content so it's time to think about what, what can we do besides just having people keep their children home, what can we do differently, so the kids are getting the support they need?

Lisa Dieker 11:39
Well, and I'm going to end with a light-hearted laugh, so I actually pulled up one of my son's report cards it's something I use quite often. He'll probably not listen to this podcast is my hope but, but this was a true report card, I won't say what grade, but I'm reading you this because I want to remind teachers that, that these words have lasting impressions, but I also want to remind parents that your words to teachers and administrators also have lasting impressions and I really think it's a partnership, but this was on a report card. "Josh is very bright but has great difficulty following directions" I was like check knew that already and I wanted to say, so, what are you doing about that? and attending he is often are you ready, this is where it gets funny "he is often hitting or annoying other children and is frequently unaware of his antics until after the fact." And immediately, I read that and I thought, well, first of all, I'm not gonna let him read that, but I read that and thought yeah because he doesn't know how to make the right choice because this was when he was very young, and he's very delayed, as the word maturation, and he's really, really small. So guess what we got to teach him that. And that's what I think we have to remember is shortened days, negative comments on report cards, attacking teachers for not understanding. It's really not about that, it's meant to be a partnership and to say what can we do together so that you're not annoying when you become an adult or you don't have antics of hitting others and you don't know after the fact. I think that's, the keyword is that many of the behaviors we see, we're upset because kids don't understand after the fact, they're only going to understand if we teach them before the fact what's the right choice.

Rebecca Hines13:18
And the in a quote from this article it fits in with what you just described and one of the, one of the parents said, you know the school found that his profound needs to be assigned that he needed less schooling. When a child's struggling with reading you don't try less. And so I do think you know it does become, you know, what is the role of schools? What are we attempting to do? And ultimately yeah we, we want people to be successful and safe, but we want that to be the case in society at large, so I'm on board with schools, doing everything we can. If parents could solve it at home, they would and parents aren't in the same conditions as schools where there's lots of people around so you don't see all the same behaviors are home either, but you do in the world.

Lisa Dieker 14:18
All right, well love it. Becky, we got a little deep on that one even though it was a great current event and so again do check out Disability Scoop and if you have questions for us, please send us a tweet @AccessPractical or send us a note on our Facebook page.