Jan / 30

What You Need to Know About New Changes in CA Teacher Credentialing Programs [IEP 013]

IEPcontent Podcast 2 Comments

Many schools and teachers aren’t equipped for implementing full inclusion or mainstreaming.

Recent changes in Ca Teacher Credentialing programs are helping improve and updating the credentialing requirements for both general and special education teachers.

Full show transcript at the bottom of this post.

What We Cover in this Episode:

  • Why a shortage of special ed teachers in the 1990’s led to a loosening of  the requirements for teachers qualifications
  • How the loosening of these requirements led to a low rate of kids being identified for special education
  • The importance of beginning with a least restrictive environment for students with special education needs
  • Have special education teachers been equipped with the necessary knowledge and experience to help students in a least restrictive environment?
  • Why the Commission has changed teacher credentialing programs recently and how it’ll affect both general education and special education teachers
  • Where California ranks when it comes to full inclusion in schools
  • Why some teachers are unable to help a student with special needs


John Fensterwald – OC Register article ? “Big Changes in requirements to become a special education teacher in California”


Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Linda Darling-Hammond

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 Full Show Transcript

Vickie:                  Welcome to the Inclusive Education Project. I’m Vickie Brett.

Amanda:             I’m Amanda Selogie. We’re two civil rights lawyers on a mission: to change the conversation about education, civil rights, and modern activism.

Vickie:                  Each week we’re going to explore new topics which are going to educate and empower others.

Amanda:             And give them a platform to enact change in education, and level the playing field.

Vickie:                  Hey everybody. Party people!

Amanda:             What’s up guys!

Vickie:                  I was trying party people. I don’t know, I don’t think that’ll work. Hey, so welcome back to the pod, Inclusive Education Project, and it’s almost Christmas here, so you’re probably listening to this in January, but we don’t care, because we’re in Christmas mode.

Amanda:             Well we care, but at the time that we’re recording this it’s Christmas. We’ve got our Starbucks holiday cups here in front of us.

Vickie:                  Give good. I guess that’s the new thing for this holiday.

Amanda:             Yeah. It’s the Friday before Christmas, and we’re just gearing up the MO school district’s winter break today.

Vickie:                  I had a client that said today that the last day was yesterday. I was like, what?

Amanda:             It’s all over the place. Some stopped Monday.

Vickie:                  Must be nice. No way. Monday’s Christmas!

Amanda:             No, this past Monday. You’ve got to go to school for a half day on Christmas. We’re going to have a holiday party.

Vickie:                  That is random. No, definitely, I was like-

Amanda:             No, because some of them want to have the full week after new years, and others, they come back right after new years.

Vickie:                  Yeah, no, they don’t come back for like-

Amanda:             Because some school districts, I feel like, have three weeks, and some only have two, so it’s just-

Vickie:                  Some districts have a ski week in October.

Amanda:             Yeah, well that’s ridiculous because obviously we’re in California and … Look, I’m not going to lie, I’m sitting here in a beanie, a scarf, sweats, and Uggs. Let’s be really, when I left my house it was 45 degrees.

Vickie:                  That is cold.

Amanda:             It was cold.

Vickie:                  I know, it was cold. If anybody is not, in Southern California listening to this right now-

Amanda:             Don’t make fun of us, please.

Vickie:                  They’re probably like, oh my God, they’re so Californian.

Amanda:             Yes.

Vickie:                  Actually we wanted to, we got this really amazing email the other day from Cary up in Northern California. What’s up, Cary! Thank you for listening, and we so appreciated your email. We thought it was so great to have a parent reach out to us, especially a parent that is getting a lot from our podcast, which is nice.

Amanda:             Yeah, I mean that’s the goal, right.

Vickie:                  That’s the goal, yeah.

Amanda:             To be there, to not only educate, like we always say, educate families on what their rights are and the community as a whole, about what’s happening and how we can change the conversation, but also to let you parents know, you are not alone, and there are people like us fighting for you. I know that sometimes it feels like you’re fighting this fight every single day, and I think we hope with this podcast that you recognize, and with all the guests that we’re going to have, to see the community that we’re trying to bring together, is that there is such a large community of all of us together, and you’re really not alone.

Vickie:                  It’s already out there, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. There’s already so many parent groups. Cary, you started a parent group, which we applaud you for, in your area, and we just wanted to find a way, especially with out nonprofit, how do we bring all these people? Because so many people are doing so many great things, we weren’t like, “We’re going to change the world!” We were like, how do we connect people?

Amanda:             Oh, yeah.

Vickie:                  That’s inclusiveness of our project, which revolves around education.

Amanda:             Yes.

Vickie:                  It works on multiple levels, people. We thought long and hard about it.

Amanda:             I just spoke to a parent the other day who’s going up to a little ski vacation for the holidays, and she was telling me how they can do one-on-one ski lessons for the kids, with an aid.

Vickie:                  Oh, that’s cool. Wait, what?

Amanda:             Yes.

Vickie:                  Like a school aid?

Amanda:             Yeah. They have their own, because they’re preparing for-

Vickie:                  Wait, who’s going on vacation? The parent, or-

Amanda:             The family. So the kids are able to go and get ski lessons … This is one of those things-

Vickie:                  Wait, what?

Amanda:             Yes! Isn’t that awesome? So they can go and know that the kid is going to get the appropriate attention that they need, and be able to still participate in this activity, and be included.

Vickie:                  The district is paying for that?

Amanda:             No, no, no, this is a ski school!

Vickie:                  Oh, okay, that’s why I was so confused. I was like, what are you talking about?

Amanda:             That would be amazing, but no, there’s the ski school, and it [crosstalk 00:04:42] this need.

Vickie:                  Oh yeah, that’s amazing.

Amanda:             That’s one of those things where it’s like, I’ve talked about my soccer team, and how ASO has this VIP program, and not a lot of parents know about it, but there’s so many. I’ve got parents on my VIP team that, they do so many crazy things that are amazing, from surf lessons to going up in an airplane with a pilot and learning how to be on planes. There’s so many resources.

Vickie:                  It’s like when you go to Disneyland, and then it’s like, “Did you know that you could drive the train if you go up to the conductor and knock three times?”

Amanda:             Yes.

Vickie:                  Wait, or the secret menu at In N Out. You’re just like, wait, what?

Amanda:             It exists. There are so many things out there for your kiddos, and we just hope to shine light on a little bit.

Vickie:                  Oh my gosh, I think I had a dream last night, we were somewhere … Because remember how you had gone to the Staples Center and you had-

Amanda:             Oh yes, the sensory kits.

Vickie:                  Done the sensory kit, and if you go back, our Instagram, Amanda did this cool little video while she was at a hockey game, I’m not going to say the name of the team because I don’t want to lose-

Amanda:             The Los Angeles Kings!

Vickie:                  I don’t want to lose listeners. I don’t want to lose listeners.

Amanda:             I don’t care guys. If you’re not a Kings fan … No, I’m just kidding. I love all hockey.

Vickie:                  So go back and check that out, because there’s these sensory kits that are really cool, that they kind of rent out to you. We were either somewhere new, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, we need to be doing this now!” I don’t know why that popped into my head, but we should do that on one of the pods, where we go somewhere and we see-

Amanda:             Ooh, do a live pod somewhere, and we could …

Vickie:                  Yeah.

Amanda:             Yeah.

Vickie:                  Maybe at Disneyland.

Amanda:             Oh! Disneyland actually has like a ton … I’ve talked to a lot of families who are hesitant to go to Disneyland because it’s so overwhelming, big crowds and stuff, but there’s a number of resources for families to go to Disneyland. That’s what’s amazing, is that I think there’s a lot of resources out there that families either don’t know about, or, sometimes I think people are afraid to ask, and what was great about what Vickie said about the sensory kits with Staples Center is, they were one of the first hockey arenas to do it, and it was amazing. That’s, I think, one of our goals, is to get more organizations to do that. Our plan is to go to the pond, the Honda center, and be like, “Why aren’t you doing this?”

Vickie:                  You dated yourself with the pond.

Amanda:             Sorry …

Vickie:                  No, I was just thinking that, and some of airlines that we go on and stuff like that. We just created something.

Amanda:             Ooh, yeah.

Vickie:                  See, this is how we work. We just start talking about things.

Amanda:             That’s awesome.

Vickie:                  I think today is going to be a … The purpose behind what we’re doing in recording ourselves is to change the conversation, and I think that today we have a … You were telling me you were reading an article or something?

Amanda:             Yeah. So every once in a while I’ll Google special education in the news. Because there’s so much out there, and we get a lot of resources. Today actually I came up across an article in the OC Register, and it came out on December 19th, so this week, and-

Vickie:                  Who wrote it?

Amanda:             It was written by … John, I apologize, I’m going to butcher your last name, but I get it all the time to, so I get it. Fensterwald?

Vickie:                  I like how you are apologizing to him assuming that he listens.

Amanda:             Hey, you know what, we’re going to tag him on Facebook and be like, hey, yo, it’s a great article! The article talks about the California special education credential program, and how just Last week the Commission for the State of California Education just voted to change some procedures in our credentialing program. It’s actually, go ahead and check it out on OC Register, we’ll tag it in the show notes so you can check it out, but it’s really interesting because this is something that I’ve been talking about for a very long time, about, our teachers are not always equipped for identifying and abiding by the school district’s child find obligations, and they’re not always prepared for implementing full inclusion or mainstreaming.

Essentially what’s happened is, back in 1996 there was a shortage of special education teachers in California, so the state commission said, “We’re going to streamline this process to get more special ed teachers,” so they kind of cut back on the requirement for being a special education teacher. Back then, and up until now, to be a special education teacher there’s not as many requirements insofar as the practical application and teaching in a gen ed class, or learning about mainstreaming, coteaching. They don’t have to do those things. I know a lot of teachers, they do, they have the option to take extra classes, but the bare minimum requirements. What’s happened is, it’s lead to a real low rate of kids being identified for special education, and difficulties with successful mainstreaming and inclusion programs.

Vickie:                  That’s where we start with the Individuals with Disability Education Act, under the “IDEA,” right, of least restrictive environment. We want all kiddos to start in a general education setting, and then after all appropriate aids and accommodations, et cetera, are used, and the child still needs more, you’re moving to a restrictive environment of a special day class, because it’s just children with special needs. Here, if you’re a special education teacher, and we’ve seen this in school districts, where there’s these co-teach classes, which is great, right.

Amanda:             Collaborative class or whatever you want to call it.

Vickie:                  Collaborative class, yeah. We’re seeing it in junior highs mostly, but where there’s two teachers. There’s a general education teacher and then the special education teacher, and what they’re supposed to do is, they’re supposed to collaborate, and have curriculum being modified for certain kiddos. It’s that special education teacher’s job to handle that.

Amanda:             Right.

Vickie:                  We’ve seen that a lot more, but I’m surprised to learn that that special education teacher, maybe that’s the first time they’re teaching in a gen ed program, because that wasn’t regarded-

Amanda:             Yeah.

Vickie:                  Not to say that that’s how a lot of them went, but if you were in a rush, especially in the early or mid 90s, to just want to start teaching, you may not have had any practical skills in a gen ed … According to these requirements.

Amanda:             Right. We’ve talked before about the process of mainstreaming a student, and how when it’s done right it’s successful, but when we talk about, and I think we spoke a little bit in our inclusion episode, but really, in order for inclusion or mainstreaming to be successful a number of things have to happen, one of those being the special education teacher and the general education teacher need to collaborate on how to modify the curriculum as needed. If we have teachers that have never taught in a gen ed class, and we’re expecting them to take the gen ed curriculum from the gen ed teacher and then make alterations … I will say, I’ve had many IEP meetings where I’ve had difficulties, where I’ve mainstreamed a kid, and I go to an IEP meeting and I’m told it’s not working, and when I get to the root of why it’s not working, it’s like the modifications are not happening.

Vickie:                  This explains a lot. I had no idea about this.

Amanda:             I had the perception for a long time, general education teachers don’t have to go through the credentialing process of special ed teaching, they don’t take very many classes on special education, so I’ve always had that perception, and it’s still kind of true, that they’re not prepared to have the kid with a inability in their class. But what we didn’t, I guess, think about, was the special ed teacher that’s supposed to do that collaboration and tell the gen ed teacher what to do, they don’t know either.

Vickie:                  Right.

Amanda:             Again, always a disclaimer, this is not always the case, we have phenomenal teachers that go above and beyond. But if the basic requirement is that they don’t have that experience, how are we going to have this good collaboration?

Vickie:                  Just even having a special education teacher that is supposed to be encouraging children back into the least restrictive environment, and to be mainstreamed, and they don’t even really know what a second grade general education classroom looks like, obviously that’s why you have a gen ed teacher at your IEP, but that’s like having an attorney for special education that’s never been to an IEP meeting and saying, “This is what you’re supposed to …” There’s certain things that one can only gain from experience.

Amanda:             Yes.

Vickie:                  That is, I think, a critical component of seeing a gen ed classroom, and teaching a general education classroom.

Amanda:             If we’re talkg about a kid in the special day class who we’re trying to prepare for a gen ed class, how do we prepare them if we don’t know what we’re preparing them for?

Vickie:                  Right, and this just reminded me of one of our advocates who was at an IEP meeting, and for whatever reason the speech and language pathologist didn’t think the child qualified for speech and language services, but we had the AAC, the Augmented … What is it, Alternative?

Amanda:             Augmentive Alternative Communication

Vickie:                  Augmentive Alternative Communication person, therapist, that was there, and she was like, “No, she still needs speech and language services, but if you’re refusing to then I can pick up the slack.” She created speech and language goals, but she did, because she used to be a speech and language pathologist-

Amanda:             So she had that background.

Vickie:                  The two went hand in hand. But imagine if she wasn’t at that IEP meeting, and even though our advocate parent, and actually some other IEP team members, were like, “She still needs services,” those two were able to kind of have a discussion, where yeah, she’s picking up the slack, but if you have a special education teacher that’s being silent and has no idea what it’s like to be in that second, third, whatever grade general education setting, they might not know that the child is capable of doing that. That explains so much. I had no idea that there was a shortage in ’96, and that makes sense, like hey let’s figure this out, but it’s taken 20 years for somebody to be like, wait, we need to look at this again, because we don’t have a shortage now, and we need to … Because what started this? Why the change?

Amanda:             The commission has recently taken data, and have been looking at school districts in California. Essentially they looked at 228 school districts in California, and they found that two thirds of those 228 school district were designated as poor performance.

Vickie:                  That’s just a small portion. There’s over 1,000 school districts in California, but they were like okay, let’s sample. Let’s go through this, because California’s massive, so they were like, let’s look at 286, whatever, of these school districts, and let’s just figure out what they’re doing.

Amanda:             Right, and so they found a couple of things. They found that the chair of the commission, Linda Darlene Hammond, basically said, or she’s quoted in this article to say, the training and credentialing program in California, the system is broken. That’s a powerful statement to say. Kind of what they found was, the IDEA really emphasizes the importance of LRE, the least restrictive environment, and the way the credentialing program is set up now essentially does not lend itself to that goal. It is actually going against it, because what they’ve found is that there’s been a significant change in the level of identification of students with disabilities, and also the amount of inclusion. They actually found that California is the bottom tier of all states in the United States with regards to minutes of mainstreaming and inclusion.

We’re not doing a good job of including our kids in general education. They’ve kind of tied this lack of these important credentials to special education teachers directly to the amount of students not only being identified, but also not having the full inclusion. We’re seeing a disparity … They looked at the last four years, and in the data they said that students with disabilities have done worse than any other student group in California, and that in their view, the overhaul that we’re going to talk about is critical to improving the education of the state’s roughly 740,000 students with inability. When we talk about the students that are qualified as IEPs, it’s about 10% of the 7 million students in the state of California, but the reality is probably another 10% should be identified.

Vickie:                  Right, and we have a spectrum of disabilities. It may not necessarily be the child that outwardly has behaviors, but has a learning difference, which is in the form of an auditory processing disorder. I think this is the first step in tightening up the requirements, and the next is, how are we teaching? Because auditory processing, everybody may have a form of that. I remember in law school they made us take this “How do you learn” test.

Amanda:             What?

Vickie:                  You didn’t have to do that?

Amanda:             I do not remember taking that.

Vickie:                  You know what, we had a different … remember how there was the academic support thing? My first year we had someone different, and right before orientation they’re like, “Here’s a link to this test,” and it was really interesting. It made you answer a bunch of things, like, “We’re going to time you on how quickly you read this paragraph,” and just all this other stuff. Basically at the end of it, it would tell you how you learn best. For me it was every single thing, it was auditory, visual, writing things out, so when I look into law school I kind of was like, “I need all of these things.” But some people were just straight visual. They learned best visually. And so by the time you’re in law school or college, you’re supposed to learn how you learn, and then you’re supposed to do that, that way.

Amanda:             I think most people figure it out, but not everyone.

Vickie:                  But not everybody, right, so even though I knew those things it was like, this is straight up telling me, so I new I had to write things. I think a lot of times these kids that are pushing the special day classes, and I was just talking to one of our advocates about this this morning, is because they get so far behind, and if it was just this one little accommodation where it was like, they should have the teacher’s notes just sitting in front of them, then they could’ve accessed the curriculum and they wouldn’t be so far behind.

Amanda:             Then they wouldn’t be behind, yeah.

Vickie:                  I think this is a great first step, with the credentialing of the teachers, and then hopefully California will take a step back and look at, how are we teaching these children? Because by the time you’re in 7th or 8th grade, I was at an IEP meeting and they were saying the child’s supposed to be just taking notes by themselves anyway. It’s like okay, and so then what was the difference between the gen ed 7th grade class and the gen ed special day classroom? In the special day classroom, the teacher was reading out things that the students otherwise would’ve read to themselves, and that’s something that all teachers could be doing.

Amanda:             It goes to the idea that we can look at an area of need, for instance like Vickie was saying, like processing visual processing or auditory processing, but if one test is done by a school psychologist, we’re not necessarily getting the full picture. Because I can tell you that I know that I learn best when I have visual supports, but at the same time, that’s when I need to process information. But there’s a difference between when we’re processing information and our auditory memory. I have a very good auditory memory, but I don’t have a strong auditory processing. When I’m processing information that I’m learning, I need to see it, but in terms of my memory, I can be in IEP meetings and remember everything that was said two years ago in an IEP meeting. Because it was being said, and it was more of that memory. A lot of times we’re saying to kids, their visual or their auditory is good, but without a more thorough review of knowing the difference between the processing and the memory, that’s a very different piece.

Vickie:                  Right.

Amanda:             Because I’ve had teachers say things like, “They remember things that I’m telling them, so their auditory processing is fine.” It’s like, no, that’s when they’re just memorizing straight vocabulary versus processing language, which is different.

Vickie:                  Yeah, and some teachers do things differently, and so once you tell them, if you started doing this, you’re not just doing it for this kid, it’s actually really beneficial to all your kids. Sometimes teachers just don’t know. So then this is great, because it’s not forcing, but it’s making it a requirement to see, we have 20 years of research on inclusion, so you should take a class about inclusion.

Amanda:             Right. Essentially we don’t have all the details about what the credentialing program, the specifics of what it’s going to change.

Vickie:                  Right.

Amanda:             What we do know is that it’s going to be a complete overhaul in how we’re credentialing teachers in general, both gen ed and special ed teachers, to look at not only the foundational classes that they’re taking, but also the techniques that they’re learning, and also the practical applications, so the student teaching, and both being exposed to both general education and special education. Because that’s kind of where it goes to. It’s not just the special ed teachers, it’s also the gen ed teachers, learning how to identify these students. I’m hopeful, in this article, if you take a look at it, there’s a lot of quotes by the commissioner, and also some county board of education employees as well as some district employees, and they’ve kind of talked about how they’ve definitely seen this disparity, and it’s something that’s really important to look at. The commissioner essentially said that we’ve taken a step back from the purpose of mainstreaming and inclusion, and we’ve kind of created this policy of just, and they even said this in here, “Dump and hope.”

Vickie:                  Oh yeah, I saw that.

Amanda:             Like we’re dumping these kids and just hoping for the best. It’s like, that’s not an appropriate way, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a kid where I come in in the 12th hour, so the kid has already been mainstreamed and the team is already saying this isn’t working, and I go, “Let me look at what you’ve done to support the kid in the mainstreaming,” and they’ve done nothing. They’ve literally dumped him in the class and hoped that it worked, and when it didn’t they go, “He can’t.” It’s like, no, it’s not that he can’t. It’s that you didn’t provide him the right supports to succeed.

Vickie:                  You rarely have a general education teacher that already has 37 kids in their classroom that’s going to go and look up, “What should I be doing for this kid?” It’s pretty easy, there’s Pinterest, there’s Google, there’s so many … There’s books on this. I’ve had to go into IEP meetings and say, “I’m not a resource specialist, I’m not a program coordinator, I don’t know what your school has, but if you do not know how to appropriately accommodate this kid, I don’t know, go and buy this book.” There’s so many different things, and sometimes teachers don’t even know that that is something that they can do. Which is insane to me, because it’s like, you should be able to go to your district and say, “Look, I need training on this. You put this kid with autism, and yeah I have a cousin with autism, but I don’t relay know how to appropriately accommodate.” Or they should be able to go to the research teacher or the special education teacher and be like, “What can I do?

Amanda:             Right. That’s why the collaboration piece is some important, but again, going back to it, if both sides are speaking two different languages, and they don’t have any crossover, we’re not going to be able to translate, so we need to bridge that gap. How do we bridge that gap? We increase and change the credentialing program for both sides, and that’s how we bridge that gap. I’m very hopeful that California is again proving that we’re trying to take steps in the right direction. It’s often discouraging when we see the Federal Department of Education taking away a lot of regulations, and we’ve talked about it this year. There’s been a lot that’s been taken away this year, but one thing, I guess, keep up the faith, is California is making strides. California is at the bottom, not the full bottom of the barrel, but bottom of the barrel in terms of education. We do not have one of the best systems, and the data shows that. The statistics show that. At the very least it makes me hopeful-

Vickie:                  At least it’s on their radar.

Amanda:             Right, that they realize that this is a problem. Because it is a huge problem. This article talks literally only about these kids in special education. Imagine how much we can improve just general education as well, if we have teachers that have more training. I see all the time a lot of teachers that I know, and a lot of teachers that I work with, that are phenomenal teachers. Some of the things that this training would require, they’re probably already doing. They took it upon themselves to take the extra classes, or they’ve done the extra training, they have continuing learning education or something along those lines, but the problem is that if you don’t have a regulation requiring it then not all of them will, and there’s plenty of teachers that aren’t doing above and beyond.

Vickie:                  I get the other side of it right, playing devil’s advocate. It’s like, we don’t want these gen ed teachers just to have them to be dumped on and hope, and that’s something that really needs to be addressed, but I also know it’s one of those things that not all children with special needs are going to need the level of severity that a lot of these kids get in a special day program. Because I get it, if you are not identifying a kid as early, and that’s something that this is going to help with, is the early intervention, because if we started all kids off in a gen ed setting, then we started kind of seeing, what isn’t working.

Amanda:             Right.

Vickie:                  The focus could also be on, let’s get these preschool teachers and first through third grade teachers first. Let’s get them with this specialized, this is what you need to see in order to get these kids to early intervention. Then having them at the forefront. I know not all of those teachers are going to, necessarily, catch it, and maybe the kid has a traumatic brain injury in seventh grade, so those teachers will have to know as well, but I think that that’s probably what a lot of opponents are going to say, is, “We can’t just dump it on these general education teachers because they don’t know.” But we don’t know everything about all the disabilities.

Amanda:             Right, and also this training is for gen ed and special ed teachers, so we are-

Vickie:                  We’re not cutting out special education teachers.

Amanda:             Right, it’s trying to revamp the way that we’re teaching teachers how to teach kids with abilities, and all teachers, not just the teachers in these secluded special day classes, but all teachers. Because if we could have a system where no three-year-old is going into a special day class, I feel like we’d see so much improvement. If third through sixth grade was guaranteed to be a gen ed class, we put in the supports, and then at six years old, going into first grade, if we feel like they need more, then that’s the time to talk about an SEC class. We shouldn’t be starting … Especially because a three-year-old to a six-year-old, they make so much of a change-

Vickie:                  The argument, and we see this all the time, we both have clients with Down syndrome in preschool. They see Down syndrome and they say okay, they’re going to need 20 minutes of speech, they’re going to need so many interventions and support, and they’re going to need occupational therapy and adaptive PE and physical therapy …

Amanda:             They miss so much of their day!

Vickie:                  So we can only do it in a special day classroom. For us it’s really hard to let the kid be put into the special day class. Yes, they’re going to be getting all these services, but why are we starting in the special day class? We get it, we get that the kid’s going to be pulled out, but even for students with Down syndrome, what you want to do is, you want to see how they react in a gen ed program. Because not all of them are their label, and we know especially with Down syndrome that early intervention is everything.

Amanda:             Early intervention with any kid is so important. You talk about developmentally, from birth to six years old, your brain develops more from birth to sixth than probably … This isn’t probably 100% accurate, but-

Vickie:                  Yeah, are you a scientist who knows this?

Amanda:             Zero to six is way more development than probably a lot of the rest of your life, and it’s like, why are we not focusing on that time? That goes to the root of the argument of, we should have guaranteed preschool for all kids. Because the difference between a kid having two years of preschool before kindergarten and not is such a difference, and it’s just so important, so why aren’t we trying first? Also, let’s just be honest, the law says that.

Vickie:                  Right.

Amanda:             We have an LRE continuum for a reason. We’re supposed to be starting with gen ed. But it’s a same that’s flawed, not the law. It’s that we’ve gotten too used to, schools have gotten too used to, automatically jumping to an SDC because that’s what they’ve been told and that’s what they know.

Vickie:                  It’s like that’s great, you’ve been doing it for 20 years, but let’s be real.

Amanda:             Time to make a change.

Vickie:                  Yeah. There’s things that have changed in those 20 years that we know about kids with autism, and different approaches and strategies. Not to say the true and tried ways of dealing with kiddos like this aren’t useful or helpful, but with as much research that’s out there now, and just with sensory diet and all this stuff, it’s so insane to me. For them to … I hope it’s not another 20 years before they make whatever changes after this big change to the credentialing program, but I think a lot of teachers will probably welcome this or say, “I wish I had this when I was getting my credential,” because I’m sure a lot of gen ed teachers stay up at night and they’re like, “I’m going to have this kid in my classroom? I don’t know how I’m going to be …”

Amanda:             Yeah.

Vickie:                  Or they do have them in their elective classes, because we see this all the time in high school, and they’re like, “This kid needs so much more, but I’m just a gene ed teacher and I don’t know what to say.”

Amanda:             “what can I do”.

Vickie:                  Or, “I don’t know how to approach it at the IEP meeting.” This at least will give them an avenue where it’s like, “No, it’s cool. We need your input.”

Amanda:             Yeah. So important. I’m sure they would rest a lot easier on their winter breaks if they felt more comfortable.

Vickie:                  Right.

Amanda:             Speaking of winter break, I’m so jealous of that. I think I went to an IEP meeting the other day and someone said, “Have such a great winter break!” I got, “What do you mean? I don’t get a winter break. I don’t work or a school.” I’m so jealous.

Vickie:                  You’re jealous that you don’t work for a school?

Amanda:             No I’m not jealous of that. I’m jealous of the two week break where you don’t have to worry about the work that you have.

Vickie:                  I’m sure a lot of the teachers do worry.

Amanda:             Oh, yeah!

Vickie:                  Actually having to attend … I get what you’re saying, like an actual-

Amanda:             Right, and probably still do it, yeah, absolutely.

Vickie:                  Yeah.

Amanda:             Any plans for the winter break? You going anywhere?

Vickie:                  No, my family’s local, so that’s nice, on my in-laws and my family, so not have to really go anywhere, which is kind of nice. Maybe do a little staycation, I just want to Netflix.

Amanda:             Go down to the beach? Netflix and chill.

Vickie:                  It’s kind of cold. Oh my God, could you imagine bringing your tablet and just being like, “There’s the beach.” I’m sure some people do that, but no, I’m not really going to do anything, and new years, I think we’re still trying to figure out new years plans, but I know you have new years plans.

Amanda:             I usually don’t travel this time of the year. I was just thinking about it the other day, I’m gone for four days and then I come back for one day and then I’m gone for two days. I’m flying on Christmas for the first time probably ever in my life.

Vickie:                  I heard it’s kind of good though, to fly out.

Amanda:             I heard that too.

Vickie:                  It’s not as crazy, and you get in and out, and then you’re not going to be on a plane for like five hours. It’s a short trip.

Amanda:             Yeah. Going to Arizona to see my dad and stepmom and grandma, and they’re just … Yeah, it’s a 50 minute flight from Orange County, so it’s really not a big deal. It’ll be nice, it’s going to be very cold. You know how I’m complaining about the cold here-

Vickie:                  Yeah, but it’s like super cold.

Amanda:             I’m going to be bundled up.

Vickie:                  Yeah, it’s super cold in Arizona. Good luck.

Amanda:             Open up a bottle of wine and sit near the fire.

Vickie:                  That’s your solution to everything, opening up a bottle of wine!

Amanda:             I don’t see a problem with that, and I feel like many of our listeners that are parents would agree with me.

Vickie:                  That’s true.

Amanda:             I know everyone’s going to be hearing this episode probably after the holidays, so I hope that you had a wonderful holiday break. If you are parents or teachers, I hope that you got a chance to kind of relax and not stress about the day-to-day and the daily grind.

Vickie:                  I hope you share the pod with somebody.

Amanda:             Yeah, share the pod.

Vickie:                  Hope you did, hope you talked about it, and hope we’re getting you to change the conversation.

Amanda:             Yes, and maybe tell someone for their new years resolution to start listening, and subscribe, and …

Vickie:                  Definitely be able to … Oh yeah, and a special, again, shoutout to Cary, who sent us that email.

Amanda:             Cary, thank you so much for that feedback. I know I sent you an email, but we’re really excited to hear more, and everyone else, keep it coming. She gave us some great suggestions that we’ll start out the new year on, and we’re really excited to close out 2017 with the start of this podcast, and we can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.

Vickie:                  we hope that this pod especially helped educate, helped empower you, so that we can be fighting for those equal opportunities for our kiddos.

That was the new kind of outro.

Amanda:             Yeah! I like it. [crosstalk 00:33:47].

Vickie:                  I think saying it, or playing off of it like that, so I gave in. We sat there with the educate-empower-

Amanda:             [crosstalk 00:33:51]

Vickie:                  Yeah. I gave in, but I’m going to put a different spin on it every time, and see if that’s …

Amanda:             Ooh.

Vickie:                  The three E’s.

Amanda:             Three E’s.

Vickie:                  I don’t like saying that, but hopefully that’s what this episode did. Have a happy new year you guys, and we’ll see you in 2018.

Amanda:             Bye.

Vickie:                  Bye.

  • Right on! Co-teaching is so powerful and necessary, but it is like a marriage. It takes a positive relationship between the two, strong collaborative skills, and like you said, a knowledge in general ed curriculum as well as how to provide appropriate accommodations and modifications from both teachers. It is hard work, but what all students (gen ed & sped) should experience as a standard in each class. I hope we see changes, starting at the top and implemented to support ALL students.

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