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After 34 years, I am a newly retired special ed teacher. My children are grown. You may wonder what I am doing here.

I did not expect to be here myself. But since September, Ive grown increasingly alarmed about what I am hearing from parents of children with special needs. The panicked calls and messages are pouring in. "My autistic child was successfully mainstreamed for 3 years- now I am told she now needs a selfcontained class because she can't keep up with the pace and content of the scripted modules." Another parent tells me, "My child's IEP now has goals that are 4 grades above where he is functioning- how can my son learn if with every task and test he's given, he fails." Yet another parent, "My child with Down Syndrome was never a behavior problem. Now she is so stressed, she melts down, and runs out of the classroom shoving everything in her path." I have come out of retirement to work as a child advocate because I cannot tolerate what has happened to the INDIVIDUAL in the IEP and the word APPROPRIATE in Free and Appropriate Public Education. They are being trumped by Common Core- and your cruel insistence that children be taught and tested according to fixed and narrow standards no matter where they are functioning. This is illegal and must stop! Only now, after the repeated cries of parents and educators, you plan to ask for a limited waiver to allow a very small number of IEP students to be tested at their developmental level instead of grade level- but this is far too little, too late. There is still the absurd demand that our students be taught impossibly inappropriate content, forcing them to struggle and fail- day after day. It is unacceptable that DOE and NYSED continue the injurious impact of the Common Core and high stakes testing. No special ed teachers had input into your grand reforms- instead you accuse us of having the soft bigotry of low expectations, of holding back our students. How insulting can you be! No one has higher expectations for kids with special needs than their parents and their teachers. Every teacher understands you don't teach and test children at the level you WISH they were, where they struggle and fail- you meet them where they ARE, and guide them forward, building confidence and success- at their own pace and with differentiated instruction . The APPR is already punishing special ed teachers. Some of our most experienced, talented and dedicated teachers are now rated ineffective, even if they have gotten perfect scores on classroom observations, simply because they teach children who are physically, cognitively or emotionally impaired and dont test well. We know that your beloved charter schools filter out these most challenging children to improve their school ratings. But in public schools, all are always welcome and all will be taught. So I ask you- when this awful experiment is over, who will be left to teach our kids with special needs? Terry Kalb 11/26/13 Eastport Forum King/LaValle