So how many kids are in your child’s resource room?
For anyone who doesn’t have a special needs child, the resource room is the primary classroom for children whose disabilities require additional assistance. It’s a place that provides instruction in appropriate grade-level skills, life skills, and social skills. Typically the classrooms are clustered around a particular disability.
Resource rooms need to be spacious. Children with disabilities often have difficulty navigating cramped or crowded rooms. They need to have areas where children can find a quiet spot to sit. They need to have sensory areas, were kids can bounce, spin, climb and even swing.
And they need access to teachers and instructional assistants. Otherwise, it’s just a room.
This past year, the special education department of Huntsville City Schools decided to consolidate many children who spend the majority of their school day in resource rooms into basically three schools: the Academy for Academics and Arts, Challenger Elementary and Middle and Hampton Cove
Elementary Middle. (For my regular readers, this was “the plan” that was never shared with parents in writing despite numerous assurances and promises from Amy Sledge, Ann Roy Moore, David Blair, Jennie Robinson and others that they would.)
This consolidation has now been implemented. That fight is over.
On May 5th, Amy Sledge, Dr. Moore and the board discussed this plan and stated that this consolidation would allow students to have access to more resources such as therapy, material, supplies and staff.
On April 6th, Amy Sledge told parents that elementary resource rooms would have between 6 and 8 students in them. You can watch the video below. While she does say that they will have no more than 10, this she throws in as an extreme afterthought.
My son’s resource room at Challenger Elementary has 10 students right now with one teacher and three aides. The class is so large that it has to be split in two so that they are able to accomplish at least some of the learning goals of the IEPs. Since there is but one teacher, this means that every student is effectively receiving half of the instructional time that he or she received last year.
This is unacceptable.
But this isn’t just about my son. This is about 2,900 other students with IEPs in this system who are also getting half the instructional time that they did before.
And the only way we can address these problems is to talk to each other and compare notes.
So I’m asking you to share what you know about your child’s resource room in the comments section below. This will help us all to gain a better understanding of how Huntsville City Schools is planning to meet IEPs with less than half the Instructional Assistants that the system used last year.
Particularly since the number of special needs children has actually increased since last year.
So as you are able, please share the following information below or with me privately via email at firstname.lastname@example.org:
- The school your child attends.
- Your child’s grade.
- Does your child have an IEP?
- Does your child spend the majority of his or her school day in a resource room?
- How many children are in the room?
- How many teachers are in the room?
- How many instructional assistants are typically in the room?
There is certain information that you should not share with me. For example, do not share:
- Your child’s name. (At least not in a public forum such as the comments section below. If anyone does this accidentally, I will edit that information out of the posting.)
- Any other child’s name. (Again, I will edit this information out of the post if necessary.)
The purpose here is to make information available to all the parents with children in Huntsville City Schools that the system is, at times, hesitant to share with us. The purpose is to make the system aware that we know what is going on.
We have a right to know if the system is serving our children and meeting their needs. Perhaps this will help us all understand where most significant needs exist so that we may work together with the school system in addressing these needs.
If you do not want to share this information with me, I completely understand. In that situation, I would ask that you do the following: Contact your child’s teachers and principal. Ask them for specific numbers concerning the number of children in your child’s classrooms/resource rooms. Ask them for specific numbers of teachers and Instructional Assistants that will be in the classroom working with the kids on a daily basis.
You have a right to know this information about your child’s class, but you will often have to ask to get it.
Finally, I would encourage everyone to visit your child’s school as often as possible. See for your self the conditions of your child’s classroom and the situations under which your child’s teacher is working.
Our teachers are overworked, and they need our help to rectify this problem. The central office has a vested interest in keeping teacher salaries at the state minimum (even when their own salaries are “
nationally competitive.” [Editor’s Note: Dr. Wardynski stated on August 18th that he claimed the administrative positions were “state competitive.” I have decided to take him at his word on this.) The only defense that our teachers and therefore our kids have against these conditions are parents.
I know how difficult it is to find time to visit schools and advocate for your child’s education. Especially for special needs parents. But if you don’t no one else will.
Ask questions, and hold the system accountable for the answers they offer.
It’s our kids’ only hope.