Tag Archives: CAC for Special Education

Meeting recap: SpEd overshadowed by Cobb turmoil

Tonight’s meeting was another long one . . . items get backed up late in the year because of meeting cancellations during the holidays; we had our long-scheduled report from the CAC for Special Education, a great discusion about the group’s longstanding recommendations to the district, and a presentation from Special Education director Clare Davies about inclusive practices in the school district (as a way of commemorating National Inclusive Schools Week). It was gratifying to hear Commissioners request that the Superintendent and staff finally answer the long list of recommendations the CAC has been making for as long as I’ve been paying attention. We need to close the loop – either commit to implementing recommendations, describing how and when we’re going to get there, or definitively say we’re not going to implement particular recommendations, and describe why.

Still, I’m sorry to say that the important discussions of special education and inclusive schools were overshadowed by the big topic of the night: the continuing turmoil at Cobb Elementary School over the fate of the Montessori and General Education programs. Supporters of continuing a General Education (GE) program at Cobb mobilized again to show the school board how strongly they feel about keeping Cobb the way it is; there was also a contingent of families from the Montessori program. GE supporters wore orange stickers; Montessori supporters wore yellow baseball hats with red stickers (“Oh no!” one board member whispered to me when she saw the color-differentiated groupings. “This is supposed to be one school!”).

For the most part, comments were respectful, but anger definitely spilled over. It’s  clear that the GE supporters feel disrespected; and that they view the Montessori program as an alien presence rather than a welcoming or workable option for their students. From the Montessori side, there is clearly bewilderment at the backlash — the Montessori supporters view their program as so good and so necessary that it’s hard for them to understand that the GE families and staff view them as insensitive interlopers.

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Happy Inclusive Schools Week!

This week is National Inclusive Schools Week,  an annual event celebrating schools that welcome all children and families. Tonight, parents at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy hosted a showing of Including Samuel, a very moving account of a family’s determination to include Samuel, a young boy with a disability, in everything they do.

At tomorrow night’s Board of Education meeting, we will be observing National Inclusive Schools Week several ways: by honoring the teachers at the Presidio Child Development Center, the district’s only inclusive preschool program, and by hearing a report by our Special Education department on inclusive practices in SFUSD.  (We’re also issuing a commendation to Support for Families of Children with Disabilities, a great support organization.)  Finally, the SFUSD Community Advisory Committee for Special Education, a group of parent advocates working to improve SFUSD’s special education programs, will present its annual report and recommendations to the Board.