special education

New York

DOE will spend $78.6m in next 5 years on new database

The Department of Education is signing a $54.9 million contract with a firm called MAXIMUS to streamline the way it tracks services for students with disabilities. Right now, a paper system tracks the process of diagnosing and giving services to special education students, with results that both special education advocates and the department say are poor. The new system will allow administrators and teachers to track these documents in a single place online. It will also be costly: The five-year contract is for $54.9, and the DOE expects extra attached costs like internal training programs so that principals can use the database will cost an additional $23.7 million over five years. The DOE press release that went out on this earlier today includes unusually glowing remarks from the special education advocate Kim Sweet, who as the executive director of Advocates for Children has often criticized the DOE for failing to serve special education students adequately Sweet's statement: "The Department of Education desperately needs a new system for tracking special education data. Under the current system they are unable to track their performance in providing essential services ot students with disabilities with any kind of accuracy. A new data system is essential to helping the Departmetn of Education improve its delivery of special education services and, we hope, will be a key step to holding the Department of Education accountable for the education of this vulnerable population." The contract was not a no-bid but was competitively bid. A law firm helped the department negotiate it pro bono. Here's the full press release, below the jump:
New York

No team planning time for this team teacher

Ms. T. will be guest-blogging every other week or so here at GothamSchools, sharing her experience of working in a Collaborative Team Teaching classroom. Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) is when two teachers work in a classroom that is 60% general education students and 40% students with special needs. As a part of a team teaching classroom, I must be a team member. I cannot walk into the classroom and successfully teach with another teacher without planning together successfully. It seems obvious, right? Well, maybe not obvious to all. Our students leave us for a short time daily to enjoy what other teachers have to offer in physical education, art, music, and other "cluster" classes. During this time, when our students are away, my team teacher and I keep on working as a team. This time is vital to the success of our Collaborative Team Teaching classroom, and we use it as completely and efficiently as possible. I can rarely be found without Ms. B, and she’s rarely seen without me. Unfortunately, since the third week of school, some have been trying to split us apart and take our team planning time. Because it is a CTT class, there must be two teachers with our students at all times, even during cluster classes. Our school has not accommodated this requirement, and the cluster teachers and UFT representative know this. Their solution: One of the classroom teachers must give up the team planning time and stay with the cluster teacher. Anyone familiar with the rights of NYC teachers would know that our contract gives us a certain amount of planning time that cannot be taken away. Don’t worry, we've been told, you’ll get your planning time.