Monday, January 25, 2010

Even "Least Restrictive Environment" Advocates Oppose Weast's Preschool Plan

Montgomery County Superintendent Weast says his plan to move preschoolers from a proven program to an experimental public program is intended to meet children's needs in the "least restrictive environment." Not so fast, say the lead advocates for LRE in the county.

Testifying at a Board of Education hearing on Jan. 20, Ricki Sabia presented the views of the LRE Access Group of Montgomery County, a project of the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education, educators, parents. and citizens. On the issue of Dr. Weast's plan to move students from the Montgomery Primary Achivement Center, she said:

"Our final issue tonight is the decision to open six 'community-based' preschool programs. It has been said that this will improve LRE. What we have learned from the issues with the learning center phase-out is that decisions that are supposed to be based on LRE and improved outcomes can sometimes end up having the opposite effect for certain affected students. Some children from MPAC who are currently well served and have interaction with typically developing same-age peers are likely to end up in one of the three community-based classes that do not have access to same-age peers at all. The other three have access to same-age peers who are at risk and may not be able to model age-level skills.

"The decision to open yet another program designed for a particular disability label is contrary to the direction MCPS was advised to go more than 10 years ago when it commissioned the Classical Program Review. In that report, Dr. Mc Laughlin recommended against continuing its 'sort and place' model. Dr. McLaughlin also raised concerns about the community-based curriculum which can 'track kids into a separate system of placement, instruction, and accountability.'

"In order to serve children with significant cognitive disabilities closer to home, MCPS should use UDL and other strategies and resources to make the existing PEP classes appropriate for more of these children instead of creating a new place for them to go. Any children for whom that solution is not appropriate should still have the opportunity to go to MPAC."
Post a Comment

Disability Scoop

Special Ed News (Education Week)

Special Education Law