Special ed teachers find Common Core a challenge
By Shant Shahrigian
As Common Core shifts into high gear in public schools, the new curriculum poses unique challenges for teachers in District 75, which serves students with high-spectrum autism and other major disabilities.
Teachers in that district said Common Core interferes with their teaching methods and imposes improbably high expectations on their students.
On the other hand, education professionals say Common Core’s detailed focus on subjects in the curriculum could benefit those special education students who have about average intelligence, but difficulty carrying out tasks.
As part of a program called “The Shared Path to Success,” the Department of Education (DOE) wants to close the achievement gap between special education students and pupils without disabilities.
But a District 75 special education teacher, who declined to reveal her name because administrators at her school did not authorize her to speak publicly, said pushing autistic students to meet Common Core standards is impractical.
“It seems like an impossible task,” she said. “It’s very unrealistic, the expectation for a special ed population. It’s unfortunate that the students are at such a loss. They are not learning the skills they need to function in the world.”
The teacher said she used to rely on her personal judgment to teach students basics of speech and math to make them as independent as possible upon leaving the school system by age 21. But she said she now has to use a program called the Unique Learning System, which packages special education lesson plans that are tied to rigorous new state standards.
Riverdalian Paul Hogan, a retired District 75 teacher, remains involved with a caucus of the United Federation of Teachers called the Movement of Rank and File Educators.
KeywordsCommon Core, District 75, special education, Paul Hogan, Barbara Joseph, Sheila Steinhof, Marvin Shelton, Shant Shahrigian,