Special Ed Story

I don't know if he wears a hoodie to work, but Doug McCurry has a Bill Belichick caliber mastery of little things that add up to school success.  His Achievement First charter schools, spread across NYC and Connecticut, serve 9,000+ kids.  A bunch of grads of the Match Teacher Residency go on to work there. 

Doug wrote an Op-Ed in the NY Post today:

...I want to tell a more personal story — about my son, Jack.

It shows how charter schools, including Success Academy, not only serve students with special needs, but serve them well.

Last month, Jack officially graduated from all special-education services. He’s now a full-fledged general education student.

Why is this a big deal?

When Jack was 3, he had poor-to-nonexistent pretend-play skills. Instead of engaging in conversation, he merely repeated what was said to him. A psychologist diagnosed Jack as having a developmental disorder on the autism spectrum, with below-average intelligence.

When Jack was 4 and 5, he attended a special-education preschool in a class with 12 students, one teacher and two aides. Though I had taught him to read, his teachers refused to believe Jack could actually read books.

When Jack was 5½, his neuropsychologist said he couldn’t handle a mainstream school and suggested a small specialized setting instead.

Jack, my wife, Daria, and I happened to live in District 15 in Park Slope, Brooklyn — one of the best in the city, near one of the most sought-after elementary schools.

We thought we’d find help and support for Jack. Instead, we found discouragement and low expectations.

The folks there told us their program wasn’t a good fit for Jack; they didn’t know whether they could accommodate him in a “collaborative team teaching” (CTT) class — a mix of general-education and special ed students, with two teachers.

When we sat down to draw up Jack’s Individualized Education Program, the staff pushed for an IEP that expected him to master only one-half of one grade level, even though I believed he could master all the standards.

We then approached three other schools in District 15; they said they could not take an IEP student who wasn’t specifically zoned for their school.

Rather than allow these schools to limit Jack’s potential, we decided to put him in a mainstream kindergarten with special supports.

We entered the Achievement First and Success Academy kindergarten lotteries, and.....

How did it turn out?  Read the whole thing here