Lynda Rubin’s testimony transcript from the July 6, 2017 School Reform Commission meeting

Lynda Rubin SRC 7-6-17

Click the picture to view the SRC meeting video and go to 11:00 to view Lynda’s testimony.

I’m here to speak about IU-1, formerly IU-7, which I perceive to be an attempt to rush through approval for an outsourced program while still in search of a coherent plan for some of our most needy students, who, by the way, have legal Individualized Educational Plans suited to their needs, not the program’s needs.

In your management of regular schools, your practice has been to treat students as the number of bodies to be divided up among the least number of teachers required, even if that means countless number of classes at maximum size or above, or causing two grades to be taught with different curriculums in one “split” class. And let’s not forget the many Special Ed students and the number of English Language Learners who are also in those classes. And whenever there is a failure to thrive, you blame the teachers and principals.

Ok, I get it. I understand that the District has financial concerns, but instead of continually funneling money out to a host of private companies creating a patchwork system with marginal oversight at best, we should be creating integrated School District curriculums into which we incorporate selected outside programs, not ceding ever increasing parts of ourselves to their outside management. Why? Because we have responsibilities to educate and nurture the children we teach, first and last, at whatever level they come to us.

So now you have over 100 students returning from approved private placements at Wordsworth. Children who are placed in the more restrictive programs don’t just decide to go there. These students were recommended for and transferred because their needs couldn’t be, or weren’t being met in regular schools, even in special ed classes in regular schools. The IEP teams and the district made these recommendations based on the individual student’s type and level of need that required trained and experienced staff in a different setting with a legal plan to help these students understand that they could learn, feel successful and gain coping skills for when they’re frustrated, angry or overstimulated so that they could return to regular education programs and continue learning.

These students are being moved not because they’ve gained all of those skills, but because the system has failed them again. What plan and resources will Catapult enact to promote not only the learning environment of these returning students, but one that doesn’t impede the learning of the rest of the class these students are entering? It can be done, but you have to plan for that, not just use on-line learning.

You are making decisions without even knowing who these children are, what their individualized needs are. You’re ready to hand them over wholesale to an outside company to create a program, making grandiose predictions to “specifically fit the needs of students with disabilities” as well as “…become a training facility of dynamic best practices” with expansion years down the line. Well, at least you’ve got the jargon for your business plan down.

Our students deserve better. They deserve a school district that wants to educate them not palm them off to the next experimental privately operated company looking to expand their operations.