Before I get into our situation (which, by the way, appears to be going just the way I hoped - hooray for blessings), I want to share what upset me so much.
We live in Wake County (around Raleigh), North Carolina. Our school district is notorious for the de-integration of the schools here last year.
As it turns out, they also segregate disabilities.
They break down disability by type, then assign special ed kids to the specific classrooms just for those disabilities.
It seems great on the surface... I mean, you've got qualified personnel working with a single type of disability.
What got me was the fact that the AU (autism) program here results in a certificate of attendance, NOT a high school diploma. They modify (aka DUMB DOWN) the curriculum for these kids, even though autistic kids are not all intellectually impaired. That way, it's almost impossible for them to ever mainstream (if they're getting more and more behind every year, HOW will it ever happen???) and get on track for a real diploma.
There are three tracks of modification in the AU classroom. None of them are standard curriculum. They are saying that NO child that comes into that room can earn a diploma, because they CAN'T choose a standard curriculum.
Even worse, even if the teachers are teaching the AU kids standard or above curriculum, they *still* can't get a diploma! Their curriculum tracks are the ONLY choices, so they choose the top 'modified' and then write-in what your kid is doing. WTF?
How is this right? They take a group of kids, who, because of their disability, have behavioral issues. These behavioral issues are NOT indicative of intelligence. And the behavioral issues aren't aggression in many of the kids - we're talking stimming, inability to sit still with a typical class, stereotypical autism movements... I mean, disrupting enough to need an alternate setting in some cases, but they are perfectly capable of learning the same material as their peers in a setting where they can be accommodated.
See? They have taken 'accommodation' and forced 'modification' into it. Instead of ACCOMMODATING behavioral differences, they force a MODIFIED (dumbed down) curriculum on these kids, which therefore doesn't hurt their schools in the No Child Left Behind Funding (school test scores have to meet requirements, and any kids on modified curriculum don't count into the score... nice). It's all about the benjamins, baby. Or laziness. It would take more effort to educate these kids to their potential. But isn't that why the ratio in that class is lower?
And I have to wonder... these parents that let their kids go in there... have they given up? Do they not think their kids are at least average intelligence? What is going on in a parent's head when they decide at ANY point putting their kid into a program where they can't earn a diploma unless they can prove they can get out is a good idea? I get it if you know your kid isn't capable. But if you're on the fence, WHY?
How is putting all the AU kids into a modified program NOT segregation? And if we were to replace 'autistic' with 'black' or 'female', would this fly?