Letter: Disturbing revelations from local filmmaker
I was stunned to read certain details in the article about Dan Habib’s new film on restraining students who have acting out behaviors (“Filmmaker focuses on seclusion in schools,” Monitor front page, June 5). As a former special education teacher I never observed the extremes of restraint or confinement that his film reports and am disturbed to learn they exist.
While teaching from 1970 to 2008 I had just one student who required physical restraint, and this was implemented only after training from the school psychologist. Positive reinforcement programs and brief time-outs in the hallway or classroom were the most common practices used for students with behavior issues. As most of my students had IEPs, any extraordinary requirements were written into these with full parent knowledge.
Now as a retiree I volunteer in an elementary school and observe the same approaches.
The way New Hampshire funds school systems using solely the property tax has forced many districts to reduce the support staff that previously helped teachers with non-coded students who have behavior or learning issues. In addition, the implementation of the Common Core next year may increase achievement expectations, and these will place added challenges on teachers to help every child succeed. A typical self-contained elementary class has a wide range of ability levels let alone the more unique needs of special education students.
If we are to leave “no child behind,” we must provide not only appropriate education practices and outcomes, but also the support services that help to implement them. Our children and teachers deserve no less.
JOANNE P. DeBOLD