State Sen. Jim Carlin (R-Woodbury) has some issues he would like to address in the classroom entering the 2020 legislative session.
Last year he proposed a special education interim study bill that would look at how Individualized Education Program (IEP) behavior kids are placed.
“Those behaviors can be really disruptive in a classroom,” he said. “In some instances it has resulted in violence against teachers. It’s just made the job of teaching very, very difficult. At the same time, those same teachers are being evaluated on test results where the kids with those challenges are being lumped in with the rest of the kids in the classroom. The rest of the kids in the classroom are affected by those behaviors because the teaching time they miss, then those results go down as well.”
Carlin said they’re looking at modifying the process to address the realities and maybe look at more of a graduated process that doesn’t force mainstream children with real behavioral issues into the classroom.
Meetings have already taken place with administrators and teachers from around the state.
“Hopefully we’ll get on a path to come up with some good, workable solutions down the road,” Carlin said.”I just think, however well-intentioned it may be, you mainstream kids with these challenges and in some classroom settings it’s just not going to work. You have to make provisions for that. If the reality doesn’t fit the platform, the platform is the thing that needs to change. And that is where we are.”
Regardless, Carlin said this issue a huge issue across the state.
“If you talk to any public school teacher in the state, they will tell you this is probably their most significant challenge,” he said. “It has actually forced a lot of teachers into retirement because it is stress that is more than they can bear. And this is going on all over the state.”
The other classroom issue that has Carlin’s attention is the idea of recruiting minority male teachers.
“The reason why is Iowa’s proficiency numbers for minority children are quite a bit lower than other demographics,” Carlin said. “There’s a very significant achievement gap that needs to be honestly looked at. I think we need to have some out-of-the-box solutions.”
Carlin said studies show black male children do better with black male teachers.
“I would venture to guess that that’s probably true of hispanic children as well,” Carlin said. “So, when your numbers are in the 50s and 60s, you have to look at the economic and social implications of that down the road for the lives of these children and their families. This is something that has been proven to work.”
It’s likely Iowa will have to recruit outside of the state, Carlin said. It will also have to incentivize those teachers some how.
“Obviously there will be some people who get upset about that because they’ll say why aren’t they getting treated that way,” Carlin said. “Well, I’m just more concerned that we get the proficiency numbers up where they need to be to put these kids on a sound academic and economic footing for the balance of their lives.”
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