Thursday, September 4, 2008

IT IS TIME FOR MEANINGFUL CHANGE AT BISD

I am sorry but I was unable to attend the Charter Review Committee meeting. My friend’s truck is in the shop, and I had to loan him my truck for the day.

So let’s talk BISD. I will be supporting Rick Zayas for two simple reasons. One, he favors the dismissal of Hector Gonzales. And two, it punishes Pat Lehmann for orchestrating the hiring of Gonzales as the superintendent and Art Rendon over the Special Services.

The other day someone asked me why it is I believe BISD treats its special education students so poorly? It is a question of competence at the management level, and a lack of competent knowledge related to special education children as held by the teachers.

Today I helped a father deal with his son on the issue of throwing paper in the classroom. Normally, you cannot ask this child anything without him shutting down. I started with a simple question. "You are 13, do we talk about your daily report as if you are a child, or a young man?" He responded, "young man." So I went over all of the positive things, of which 95% was positive. I told him he deserved an A+ for the day.

Then I said - "hold it, what about the paper throwing?" I already had him in a good mood about school. He immediately began to shut down. I told him I was not mad, but that as a young man the responsible thing would be for him to discuss the problem with me and his father, unless he would rather be treated like a child. It turned out he threw the paper into the trash can, but from a distance. I did not get mad. I simply asked, "If you were the teacher would you like for a student to toss paper across the classroom?" "I said, do not answer." I then asked, "what is the best way to solve this problem?" He said "I will wait until the end of class to throw out my paper." I said "A+ and thank you for handling this like a young man and not a child." This is an unmedicated ADHD or ADD kid. You cannot get in his face without a negative reaction. BISD does not train its teachers to deal with these type students. They just write them off.

Here is the management issue. I am consulting on a federal case. The Assistant US Attorney has agreed to work directly with me on how the case is managed. We have an issue related to an Administrative Record. We talked last week about the issue. We agreed he is to have the problem solved by noon Friday. If you look in my calender there is a note to call this Assistant US Attorney at noon on Friday. It is that simple. There is no possibility of me dropping the ball.

If I am unhappy with the status on the Administrative Record, I will forward a report to the lawyer who has hired me as a consultant and make a recommendation. He will then maybe sign off on a draft motion I have prepared and send it to this Assistant US Attorney. Or, he may direct me to give the Assistant US Attorney more time. All of this will happen because a note on my calender will tell me to go back to the problem for an update and to take action if I am unhappy with the update.

At BISD the parent goes to a vice-principal and asks that their child be tested. The vice-principal fails to put it on his/her to do list, or fails to do a follow-up with whomever they may have sent an initial inquiry about the matter. The ball has been dropped and nothing - absolutely nothing is done. The simple act of putting a reminder in their calender to follow-up on a day certain and time certain is beyond their managerial skills.

Today I saw the review on a child. I agree with the assessment, after knowing the child for 4 years. The child has no real learning challenges, beyond extreme depression. A depression I believe is genetically based. It took BISD 2 years of complaints by the father begging for help, and a TEA complaint to be able to arrive at this conclusion.

Because pouring salt in open wounds gives BISD joy, they are recommending that for a half hour a month the child see a therapist. This child will repeat the 9th grade for the 3rd time because of her depression, and BISD is recommending a mere 30 minutes of therapy once a month.

BISD is fully aware that weekly sessions by a private therapist have not worked. I guess this is why they are now recommending once a month for 30 minutes. The private sessions did not work because the private company changed the child’s therapist mid-stream, and the child became distressed after losing her initial therapist.

Until BISD and the universities training the teachers do a better job in preparing teachers to deal with special needs children, nothing will change. Until BISD and the universities do a better job training the vice-principals and principals in basic management skills nothing will change.

These fundamental problems at BISD are a consequence of a lack of leadership from the top. In the real world this would mean firing Hector Gonzales. At BISD it will mean eventually naming a highschool after him.

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