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College Place, WA: MORE kids identificed with special needs; all teachers need training

Feb 3, 2019, Walla Walla (WA) Union Bulletin: Special education takes special work COLLEGE PLACE — … Bradford, special education director for College Place Public Schools, accepted the hug with a practiced air — firm embrace for a second or two, a murmur of encouragement, then gently guiding the student to her seat. By the time he arrived at Davis Elementary School, Bradford had already received multiple hugs at the district’s preschool program housed on Walla Walla University’s campus. … It’s an exciting time to be in special education, he said, but also a grave responsibility for those entrusted with some of the community’s most vulnerable children. College Place Public Schools has nearly 200 students from ages 3 to 21 enrolled in special education services. Those are provided by a variety of specialists including teachers, paraprofessionals and therapists. Those are provided by a variety of specialists including teachers, paraprofessionals and therapists. The district partners with Educational Service District 123 out of Pasco to provide therapies for speech, vision and hearing, along with occupational and physical therapies. … Bradford joined the team in July, coming to College Place from the tiny community of Over the past decade more children are identified at younger ages as benefitting from extra services, through community outreach programs. And, at long last, universities are responding far better to the realities of most districts, Bradford said. “Ten years ago student teachers were spending most of a semester in general ed instruction and only three days in special education. But that’s changing. A lot of universities are offering dual certification now.” In the same time period there has been a harder push to get special education kids into regular classes for more of the school day. The model goes by a few terms, including “mainstreaming” and “inclusion.” That shift has required all teachers to have at least some dual training, which has often come from special education specialists. The real shame is when districts have pushed inclusion without providing support for staff, Bradford added. The behavioral classroom serves children who “struggle immensely in general ed settings,” Bradford said. “These are kids with trauma in their background, some with mental illness. But most have above-average cognition and that’s hard for some teachers to wrap their heads around.”… He gets it. The children who need the behavioral classroom are the most dear to his own heart. As he watched Alaniz’s students relax in the darkened room while she presented the lesson, Bradford explained it….


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