A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Zero Reject

In a high school near you, a few just show up enough to stay ahead of the truant officer, some come but lay their head down, because education means nothing to them, or maybe teachers they have had have given up on them and let them fall to the bottom, maybe even thrown a little dirt on top, because they have already given up on themselves. For others, sleepless teaching candidates labor under the hope that some activity they present might spark the tinder of dimming imaginations. How is zero reject working for the many who have come to perceive education as something to be avoided?

The Great Gatsby, for which, I am but a humble guide for a few classes of 11th graders for a few weeks this spring, is about unstated attitudes about social status that exist in America. The conflict is about whether the American dream is attainable without cheating, about whether anyone can ever truly rise from rags to riches if they pull themselves up by their bootstraps, or whether some hurdles are simply too high and unattainable for people who start from humble beginnings, to rise without corrupting themselves and sowing the seeds of their own destruction in the process. Hopefully, the young men and women, who are lending their minds and senses to my little adventure, might make some personal connections with Gatsby and gain a small measure of insight into the corrosive mentalities that lead many to focus on what they can't as opposed to what they can do, i.e, disillusionment, so that it can be avoided.

What do the terms “zero reject” and "over-identification" imply, for these are the guiding questions that are supposed to be guiding my reflection? The implication of zero reject, as it is interpreted under the 2004 reauthorization of IDEA, is that all are entitled to access to the same curriculum, whether or not that curriculum is the most appropriate curriculum for a student's individual needs, and that schools must be held accountable when groups or subgroups fail to show adequate yearly progress (AYP). The implication of "over-identification" of males and minorities is that far too many males and minorities continue to fail to respond to the 3 levels of evidence-based interventions recommended under IDEA 2004, and continue flowing downstream into special education  and self-contained classes.

Ironically, accountability, having been perverted from individual accountability to group and subgroup accountability, has led schools and school systems to attempt to shift the burden. That the Department of Education (DEA) is forcing certain school systems to accept more students with disabilities, suggests that stratification remains an intractable regionalized social condition. (Kolodner, M., 2012) How much is subgroup accountability reinforcing failure, rather than uplifting people?

Kolodner, M. (2012) Top middle schools must take special needs students.http://insideschools.org/blog/item/1000254-top-middle-schools-must-take-special-needs-students