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Saturday, September 1, 2012

New De Blasio study on inclusion: where are the parents, teachers and principals?

There’s a new study put out by Public Advocate De Blasio’s office praising DOE’s inclusion program, based on the results of Phase I of their initiative.  Today’s NYT carries an article about the report.  Interestingly, the author of the report only interviewed top brass at Tweed and cluster and network leaders.  Not a single principal, teacher or parent, or student in any Phase I school was apparently consulted:

From September 2011 through January 2012, P&A conducted more than 40 structured confidential interviews of deputy chancellors, DOE central office staff, cluster and network leaders in Phase One, and others external to the DOE who have knowledge of Special Education Reform. …All network leaders indicated that the networks had responsibility for providing professional development, and they were building their capacity to do so effectively. Further, many network leaders said that responsibility for professional development was shared with principals who knew the needs of their schools.

Not surprisingly, the administrators leading the effort agreed that the initiative was successful – without providing any data or views from the ground.   Here’s an excerpt:

The network identified support for leadership as a network-wide need, and convened principals every month in sessions led by both the network leader and the deputy network leader. At the same time, network instructional coaches (and the network leader) met regularly with general- and special education ‘teacher leaders’ – who are outstanding classroom professionals identified by school principals …The results were stunning, according to the network’s leader. Students dug in deep and examined what inclusion meant….[etc etc]

Recommendations for more funding include the following:

·         Provide additional funding for more on-site professional development by clusters and networks.

·         Hire additional staff into central office and network positions who have the knowledge and skills necessary to help schools implement Special Education Reform.

So these same administrators should be provided funding to build up their staff, but what about the critical need to hire more classroom teachers who actually work with these kids? 
Right now, class sizes are the largest they have been in 13 years in K-3, and will likely increase yet more as the DOE has mandated that inclusion classes be filled to the union contractual maximum of 25 in Kindergarten, 32 in grades 1-5 and 30-33 in middle school. For more on the DOE’s unprecedented mandate that principals increase class size to the maximum in inclusion classes, and the threatening tone of their instructions to do so, see my testimony here:  My earlier blog post, including comments from teachers and parents about this initiative, is here
While the NYT article also says that more than one year after the end of Phase I, DOE is still “studying” the results in terms of academic results,  you can see from slide 13 of this DOE powerpoint that they found “no statistically significant differences on Math & ELA proficiency between Phase 1 and Comparison Schools.” 
If you are a parent or teacher who has a view on this initiative, and how it is being carried out, you might contact the NYT reporter (who is relatively new) at


Zack Stieber said...

The Google link is not working.

Leonie Haimson said...

I fixed the link to the NYT article; thanks Zack.