Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | MAY 02, 2012 6:30 AM

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Try a classroom

Jason Glass, the director of the Iowa Department of Education, is to be commended for taking the ACT test.

I have another challenge for him: Walk into a classroom of 30 students. Four of the them have challenging behaviors — two of them are constantly talking very loudly across the room, one is constantly moving around the room, and another tells you loudly that he absolutely refuses to do any work at all.

You spend a good portion of your day trying different approaches to modify their behavior, but these behaviors continue. Then you find out more about these students: One of them is on medications, but her parents sometimes forget to give them to her before school.

The parents of another student refuse to allow their child to be evaluated by any sort of social worker or psychologist from the Area Education Agency, so there is nothing that can be done — not even assigning a para-educator (aide) to help the student.

A third student is being evaluated but it takes three months before any recommendation can be implemented — such assigning the student to a behavior-focused room for part of the day or assigning an aide to work individually with the student. The fourth student is African-American.

The state of Iowa is in trouble with the federal government because minority groups form too high of a percentage of Iowa's kids who have been diagnosed with behavior disorders, and the teacher realizes that if he refers this student to anyone who could possibly help her, he causes more problems for the state.

Four students out of 30 who desperately need help but aren't getting it. Four students who constantly disrupt the class and keep the other 26 from learning. That's your next challenge, Mr. Glass. Please let me know how you do.

Gary Sanders
Iowa City resident

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