Ninth question from the teachers' union Endorsement Questionnaire
- With the growing concentration of students in Special Education, what will you do as a board member to ensure equitable funding and support for SPED programs, teachers, and students?
My family is very lucky that OUSD has been very supportive of my son’s special needs. As a Deaf child, he got so much help starting in his preschool years after he got his cochlear implant, and he still gets occasional support today from the same itinerant teacher for Deaf children who visited him in preschool - she has been with the District for longer than he has. I wish every child with special needs got as good support as he has been lucky to get, but I know that sadly that is not the case.
Everyone in our district is responsible for the success of all students, and no student should be stigmatized for their needs, and this message needs to come consistently from the top. All teachers need to receive training in differentiated instruction, because all students have learning differences.
We need to stabilize leadership of the SPED department and ensure that SPED leadership and teachers are receiving adequate support, and we need to prioritize filling our SPED vacancies, because many SPED students have experienced multiple years of inconsistent teaching staff.
We have to use every tool available to us to make this happen, including teacher residencies, paraprofessional teacher pipelines, and incentivizing existing staff to recruit from their networks, among others.
We also need to advocate at the state and federal levels to change the funding formula for SPED. Right now there is an awful financial incentive for districts (and charter schools) to underserve SPED students. This does not excuse, but is part of the reason, that charter schools serve so few SPED students.