To the Editor,
As a special needs teacher, I attended the rally Wednesday with many fellow teachers from Rowland Norment Elementary School. Although the rally was for many good causes, the one that seems to be making headlines is about teacher pay. This is not my reason for marching at all. Unfortunately, I am afraid my cause will fall on deaf ears. My children have no voice to speak out for themselves and therefore I want to provide one.
My third-grade students, many struggling to read on a kingergarten-first grade level, are being forced to take the same End of Grade test as other children, with the only modifications being that they are taken to a smaller room with fewer students. In the area of math, many are struggling with counting to 100 as well as adding and subtracting double-digit numbers, yet, they are required to take the same math End of Grade test as students who have taken algebra and geometry. The modification is being taken to a smaller room with fewer students and being read the test aloud.
All of this brings on tears, anxiety and sometimes behavior issues such as feelings of inadequacy. We are building them up to tear them down and things needs to change.
Our autistic population is also growing. Our schools are not equipped to provide these students quality academic, social or behavioral care without more programs or training for regular education teachers. Sadly, our special needs students are forgotten in all of this.
When people see the rally, they assume we are complaining about pay or lack of materials — although inmates do have a more opportunities for textbooks — or teaching conditions. I am rallying to improve educational conditions for exceptional children.
Teachers are getting negative and positive feedback about not teaching Wednesday. Some people say we don’t deserve anything more. But to me, it is not about what we deserve, it is about what my students deserve.
Lisa P. Risen