Co teaching classrooms in East Meadow Schools
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Our district has updated and improved many outdated programs and policies over the past few years however our special education policies and models are still drastically behind almost every other district around us. Although the new school budget this year included new special education teachers being hired and attempts to keep more of our children with special needs in district, improvements towards inclusion for children in their zone schools still needs to be addressed.
I am a special education teacher who grew up in East Meadow (attended McVey, Woodland, and EMHS). My husband and I bought our home here in 2010 and had dreamed of raising our 3 daughters here around our family and friends. My littlest was born with a speech and coordination disorder. (She has mild Apraxia of Speech and Developmental Coordination Disorder). She has been doing wonderfully in a CTT classroom for the past year and will continue in the same type of classroom model for Prekindergarten. Unfortunately, I had wrongly assumed that she would continue in this type of setting for Kindergarten as I have never seen or heard of a school district in New York State NOT to offer any type of Co-Teaching/Team teaching classroom in their elementary schools. After doing research, talking to multiple East Meadow Elementary School Teachers,and parents of other children with disabilities in our district, I have found:
1-Everyone of our neighboring districts have some sort of co-teaching classroom model.East Meadow does not.(Bellmore, Levittown, Island Trees, Merrick, Westbury, Carle Place, Wantagh, Bethpage, Seaford, Etc.)
2- Children with disabilities in East Meadow are often placed in self contained special education programs that are only offered at Meadowbrook or Bowling Green separating them from peer models, from their community such as neighborhood friends, siblings, and are excluded from their zone school PTA sponsored events (movie night, Halloween Howl, Carnival, etc.).
3-The only other option is for them to be placed in their zone school in general educations classrooms where they are frequently being pulled out for special instruction services meaning the are losing time from learning in the classroom.
4-They are require more of the classroom teacher's help and attention which puts more stress on the teacher especially those with no background in how to teach children with special needs and creates a feeling that the need for more attention is taking away from the rest of the children.
5-Children with disabilities at all 5 of our elementary schools, according to NYS test scores, are way behind grade level.
6-Co-Teaching Classrooms benefit not only children with special needs but all children in the class- Benefits of Co-Teaching K-5/6 Students: Increased student achievement
More student-teacher interaction interventions for students are more comprehensive with the co-teachers presence allotting more time for in depth supplemental instruction. This also benefits the higher-level students to receive instructions for independent lessons sooner versus waiting, while the teacher attends to students with special needs.
More attention from teachers to meet students’ needs.The ability to provide better interventions and give extra help to all students in the class.Children get more time to learn concepts and have increased preparation time. Classroom management is also enhanced.
My family like many families in our district are facing the difficult decision to either move out of East Meadow so that our child can attend her zone school with her older sister and twin sister in kindergarten in an appropriate classroom setting or petition our district to continue to update our Special Education program. I am asking you to sign this petition to encourage our Board of Education to work on improving our inclusion models offered in our elementary schools.Specifically to begin working on creating and implementing Co-Teaching classroom models for children with disabilities to be able to stay in their zone schools and succeed.
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