Study to Investigate Perception and Role of Teachers,Parents,Management About Religious Education

Introduction:

One’s education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization. The purpose of this study is to foresee the perception of teachers, parents and management about religious education at primary schools. Religion and beliefs gives awareness of our norms and values. Religious education teaches the ethics of living a peaceful and loving life. It teaches individuals, families, communities that how they should take decisions for living a better life full of peace and harmony. Patrick (2006) said that religious practice benefits individuals, families, and communities and thus the whole world.

Religious education is very important for students at early ages. It teaches them how to response others and tells them ethics of living a better life. Religion plays a significant role in history and society as well, study about religion is essential to understand both the nation and the world. It also makes great beneficence to other parts of school syllabus such as liberty, civil, crafts and disciplines for supportable development. John et al (2003) mentioned in his report that the curriculum needs to cater the child’s affective, aesthetic, spiritual, moral and religious needs in order to develop the individual’s full potential. RE plays specific role in developing spiritual and moral values of a child as well as to be aware to knowledge of God.

Literature Review

Religious education make student broad minded but it happens when teachers teaches them with these clear concepts and practices about how to practice these thoughts as well as to communicate and deal with others in adverse community. Religious Education teachers need to have in depth knowledge of content and pedagogy as well as need to have quality assessment skills to deliver effective instructions as they are the pillars of teaching process. Dinama et al. (2016)

Liagkis (2016) supported the concept that pedagogically, all instructions are determined in the curriculum sequentially but religious education teachers are responsible to deliver effective teaching to learners to make them able to practice

Geoff Teece (2009) proposed an article on learning about religion and learning from religion or religious education. In this article researcher said there is a lack of clarity in terms of learning and actually mean from the religion. Researcher also argued that the term religion is understood by applying a second order explanatory frame work that actually refers to the concept of study of religion such as rituals and myth. Religious education or religious instruction was a serious concern in education system.

To figure it out Gardner (1980) gave a solution that, not to make students committed towards any of the religion and instead of this teach about the events and lifestyles guided in different religions. The question arises after this given solution that is it appropriate to grow students up with the brought minds in sense of their beliefs in educational scenario? Or is it better not to go against the grain and follow the traditional style accordingly? The explorers of these questions were Gardner (1993) & McLaughlin & Hare (1994)

Leahy & Laura in 1997 gave their notion that religion is not restricted to be taught in inflexible environment. Religious concepts can be integrated in other subjects of curriculum to enhance knowledge (P.329).

Leahy (1998) considered that should the parents be allowed to take decision about their child’s learning method of religious education by censoring the curriculum of school but she herself deny it because it will spoil the rights of other religious groups and kill the ways for different groups producing social imbalance.

According to John M.Hull there is a part for the school in preparing pupils to take an informed and thoughtful part in a pluralistic culture. When the society contains not one but several religions, the necessity for a thoughtful study of religion becomes greater, not less. (1984, p. 48.)

While standards such as admiration, acceptance, and treating people with kindness are clearly important plus constantly have been, new public currently furthermore prerequisite to understand the causes of, and possible solutions to, complex and global issues. (Nord and Haynes, 1998, p. 36)

Ethical reflection contributes to that understanding by helping young people see that tolerance of others is not enough; that a global, interconnected world calls for harmony by others whose outcomes and futures are intertwined, and that they want to be prepared to turn, not just personally, but also collectively and politically. (Freiler, 2009, p.15)

Susan D. Holloway in his article “The Role of Religious Beliefs in Early Childhood Education: Christian and Buddhist Preschools in Japan”. Off and on in western writing the Japanese are mark out as a non-religious people apart from it Japanese are considered the faithfulness that conflict with Americans. Japanese show up more prepared to put together and meet the doctrine that often appealing Shinto at the beginning and wedding whereas the Buddhism stand with silence/external rest through in spite of circumstances that work to darken the noticeable philosophical contribution of different doctrine, definite direction of Christians ideology and Buddhism are observed that pressure the school of Japanese.

Objectives of the study:

To find out teacher’s perception about religious teaching as an aspect of education.
To identify the role of teachers for children character development.
To find out parent’s perception about religious teaching.
To explore the role of school management for teaching religious subjects in curriculum.

Methodology of the Study:

A quantitative research design was selected to conduct this study. In this study questionnaires were used as a research tool. In the educational research field questionnaires are worthily considered as a popular technique mostly used for investigating the opinions, attitudes, perceptions and preferences.

Questionnaires constitute an important and popular technique that is widely used to study the attitudes, opinions, perceptions and preferences in the field of educational research. Muijs (2004), Reid (2006)

Oppenheim (1992: 100) described questionnaires as: “The questionnaire is an important instrument of research, a tool for data collection. It is considered a set of questions arranged in a certain order and constructed according to specially selected rules”.

[Creswell (2008), Cohen et al (2007), Raid (2006)] all categorized questionnaires information as there are three types of data that may be collected about respondents through using questionnaires including Factual, Behavioral and attitudinal. Demographic characteristics of respondents are covered in factual questions; behavioral questions are used to investigate about the actions, habits, and experiences of participants; and to know about interest, belief, values, opinions and attitudes investigator uses attitudinal questions. In this study research tool is consisted on two elements from mentioned categories including factual and attitudinal questions.

Three questionnaires were designed for each category of respondents. Respondents of the study were teachers, parents and management belongs to primary schools of Karachi. Total number of statements was 10 for each category of respondents. 30-40 minutes time duration was decided to fill questionnaires after the pilot study. Closed ended statements were used in questionnaires and respondents were asked to give their point of view by chosen rubrics of Likert Scale (Strongly Agree, Agree, to some extent, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree).

1. Pilot testing of Questionnaires

Oppenheim (1992: 48) mentioned this “everything about the questionnaire should be piloted; nothing should be excluded, not even the type face or the quality of the paper”. 50 respondents were selected for pilot testing of questionnaires (20 teachers, 20 parents and 10 management staff). Piloting the questionnaires was aimed to ensure the layout of questionnaires, to cater the language difficulties, to check instructions needed to improve and to improve validity and reliability of questionnaires. The feedback received through pilot testing provides the clarity about statements of questionnaire, layout, instructions and validity as well.

2. Sample selection

Teachers, school management of primary schools and parents of primary grade children of Karachi, Pakistan were selected as a population of this study. Sample was selected district wise; there are 6 districts in Karachi namely Central Karachi, East Karachi, South Karachi, West Karachi, Malir Karachi and Korangi Karachi. By using convenient quota sampling technique 4 districts out of 6 were selected including East Karachi, South Karachi, Malir Karachi and Korangi Karachi. Total 200 sample size was selected for conducting this study. 50 samples were intended to select from each district approximately. For desired sample primary schools were selected through searching on internet and developed communication with concern authorities of all schools for asking their willingness to fulfill research needs.

3. Data collection procedure

Researcher visited schools district wise one by one and distributed 250 questionnaires to participants more than actual sample size to get maximum return rate. 30 out of 250 participants did not return their questionnaires. 220 participants returned questionnaires on time.20 questionnaires out of 220 were excluded due to incomplete responses. So finally researcher got desired sample size 200 out of 250. Remaining questionnaire responses was 40 (principals, wise principals), 100 teachers and 60 parents selected collectively. Whereas, 10 (principals, wise principals), 25 teachers and 15 parents were selected from each district.

5. Analysis of Data:

SPSS version 21 was used for data analysis procedure. 5-Likert scale responses were converted into numeric scale 1-5 to enter the data in SPSS. Through using SPSS researcher calculated the frequencies and percentages. After calculation, result is presented through generating graphs showing frequencies and percentages of responses of each category.

Analyzing the findings of research questionnaire statements is given below.

1. Management Category

Statement

Frequencies & Percentages

Strongly

Disagree

Agree

To some

extent

Disagree

Strongly

Disagree

Religious education defines Virtue, Grace, Law and Sin.

14

35%

22

55%

4

10%

-

-

-

-

Religious education is a part of each individual’s statutory learning pathway.

16

40%

20

50%

4

10%

-

-

-

-

Religious education gives importance to moral values in life.

17

42.5%

18

45%

5

12.5%

-

-

-

-

The school should have no role in the religious formation of the child.

-

-

9

22.5%

8

20%

15

37.5%

8

20%

It should be the priority to have a religious education in the school.

5

12.5%

19

47.5%

8

20%

8

20%

-

-

Religious topic in curriculum enhances the explanation of the spiritual side of life.

5

12.5%

24

60%

6

15%

5

12.5%

-

-

Content is related to the student’s life during teaching.

8

20%

23

57.5%

9

22.5%

-

-

-

-

The curriculum is adopting instructional approaches to meet student’s religious need.

8

20%

20

50%

12

30%

-

-

-

-

Curriculum is supporting their responsibility to educate children through sharing resources.

6

15%

24

60%

10

25%

-

-

-

-

There are authorities in school to access overall effectiveness of religious practices.

-

-

23

57.5%

17

42.5%

-

-

-

-

2. Teacher Category

Statement

Frequencies & Percentages

Strongly

Agree

Agree

To some

extent

Disagree

Strongly

Disagree

Religious education gives importance to moral values in life.

35

35%

51

51%

14

14%

-

-

-

-

Religious education is a part of each individual’s statutory learning pathway.

40

40%

49

49%

11

11%

-

-

-

-

Religious tradition cannot survive without recalling the chain of memory.

30

30%

48

48%

16

16%

6

6%

-

-

The school should have no role in the religious formation of the child.

-

-

22

22%

19

19%

38

38%

21

21%

You being a teacher relate content to the student’s life during teaching.

23

23%

46

46%

26

26%

5

5%

-

-

Teachers are adopting instructional approaches to meet student’s religious need.

14

14%

40

40%

29

29%

17

17%

-

-

Opportunities are provided to students to investigate religion practices and teaching explanation.

18

18%

46

46%

27

27%

9

9%

-

-

Schools are creating opportunities to persuade parents and teachers to play the role of religious educators.

18

18%

42

42%

17

17%

23

23%

-

-

Schools are providing spiritual support to enable staff and students to understand the concept of faith.

17

17%

31

31%

29

29%

23

23%

-

-

There are authorities in school to access overall effectiveness of religious practices.

-

-

37

37%

23

23%

27

27%

13

13

3. Parent Category

Statement

Frequencies & Percentages

Strongly

Agree

Agree

To some

extent

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

My child shows enthusiasm for the teaching of R.E (Religious Education)

13

21.7%

24

40%

15

25%

8

13.3%

-

-

The teaching of RE has an impact on my child and is done well at this school

10

16.7%

29

48.3%

13

21.7%

8

13.3%

-

-

The school acts quickly on parents’ suggestions and concerns

-

-

18

30%

17

28.3%

12

20%

13

21.7%

The attitude of your child to Religious Education is positive

12

20%

23

38.3%

16

26.7%

9

15%

-

-

You are satisfied to the teaching of Religious Education at your child school

7

11.7%

27

45%

15

25%

11

18.3%

-

-

I provide good level of care and support to my child at home

13

21.7%

32

53.3%

15

25%

-

-

-

-

My child participates in religious programs.

-

-

21

35%

27

45%

12

20%

-

-

I provide religious enrich environment to my child at home

15

25%

28

46.7%

17

28.3%

-

-

-

-

I am providing spiritual support to enable my child to understand the concept of faith.

12

20%

32

53.3%

16

26.7%

-

-

-

-

Schools are creating opportunities to persuade parents and teachers to play the role of religious educators.

13

21.7%

27

45%

10

16.7%

10

16.7%

-

-

It is interesting to note that most of the people supported RE and learning about religion. Also support for RE helping children to understand a range of religious values and beliefs. But some gaps are found in management role in adapting instructional approaches in curriculum to meet student’s religious needs, not providing enough resources and absence of authorities to monitor effectiveness of religious practices.

Somewhere teachers and parents also blame management for not providing spiritual support and not creating enough opportunities for teachers to play the role of religious educators. Hence, findings provide clear perception of teachers, parents and management about RE.

6. Discussion

Religion has direct relationship with the learning habits of an individual. It may directly influence the belief, attitude and ideology of an individual. Due to this fact the educators always try to devise curriculum keeping in view the religious backgrounds of the students, through which personal, social and moral development of an individual may fulfill.

According to Flourish (2013): Establishment of religious education is a fundamental part of national curriculum for primary education. It could astonishing but it is all about the truth of some of unique people showed religious relations with socially intimation and they also have discussion that religion is not applicable or transferable whether in workplace or schools. Meanwhile many believe religious education encourages students within the careful faith.

For centuries religious education has been supported the values of many qualities like intelligence, fairness, respect and standard for living styles. Religion in education showed appreciating effects among the children.

Religious education is also familiarized with the changing in the environment including practicing and outcome religious authoritarian in nearby society as well as globally (QCDA (1993). One of the major obstacles has been recognized that to give respect and consciousness for diverse religious customs and beliefs is a sign of an effectual learning environment. It develops skills in students to deal with different religious perspectives present in a society where they live.

To come to know about others belief is not enough for students. Beside the review the cognitive domain, also promoting and contributory aspects of affective domain must be the part of learning environment. Student- centered activities should be used to fulfill the developmental needs of students and activities that are used in learning atmosphere should be according to age of students. Celebrations, traditions, dishes or role plays may be the source of getting experiences.

Beside all, it should provide an opportunity to express what must be learned. Therefore, an effective religious education environment must be student centered, engaging and relevant, respectful of diversity, inviting and inclusive, participatory, interactive and collaborative, reflective and celebratory, integrative, challenging and inquiry based.

7. Conclusion:

It is true that it is quite difficult for the teachers to integrate religious diversity in learning but we could make an effort to devise our curriculum in such a way that caters the religious needs of an individual. To be able to live in society of diverse religions it is important to understand and acquire religious concepts and beliefs.

Mainly it is the role of school management then teachers and parents to promote peaceful environment and the concept that we live under the same sky but with different living standards. Similarly, we share different faiths and traditions but with different characteristics. Thus, in short school management is somewhere not providing and promoting opportunities for effective religious education this carelessness may affect the learning of children.

After the whole research the major aspect I found that religious education has great importance and it is a compulsory part of education in other religions including Christianity, and Buddhism. Being an Islamic state there is a need to focus more seriously towards religious education as an effective part of children education. As it is found in researches that use of curricula, teaching and learning materials introduced the learners to an understanding and an appreciation of their cultural heritage. So, the teaching methods for RE should be based on practical, participatory and contextualized learning techniques that are linked to the community’s social, cultural and religious needs.

8. Recommendations:

Religious education should be included in curriculum with authentic knowledge.
Religious must be a part of curriculum not only on content base it should be integrated with student’s daily life.
The existing condition of curriculum has already the religious concept but there is need to teach and develop instructional approaches according to understanding level of student’s concept and synthesis process should be implemented.
According to children’s age different programs should be arrange related to knowledge about religious, moral and Islamic teachings.
Quranic ayah and Hadees should be introduced through the impatient instructive stories in the course at primary level.
School management should promote religious education through tableaus, dramas and use of multimedia at primary level.
Arrangement of Naat and speeches competition related to religious topics can be the cause of promotion and religious spirit.
Educational institutions should arrange the celebration of religious festivals as well as religious historical days.
Most important school management should coordinate with parents and ask for their opinions for enhancing religious teaching.

By: Samroz Saeed. I am M.Phil scholar at Teacher Education Department, University of Karachi, Pakistan. As i belong to teaching profession so my this article is related to teachings specifically religious teachings. This is my first article and i focused on this area of study because this area has not been too much considered for research in Pakistan. This research topic has significance to the present social and educational structure in Pakistan.

A Brief History of Special Education

Perhaps the largest and most pervasive issue in special education, as well as my own journey in education, is special education’s relationship to general education. History has shown that this has never been an easy clear cut relationship between the two. There has been a lot of giving and taking or maybe I should say pulling and pushing when it comes to educational policy, and the educational practices and services of education and special education by the human educators who deliver those services on both sides of the isle, like me.

Over the last 20+ years I have been on both sides of education. I have seen and felt what it was like to be a regular main stream educator dealing with special education policy, special education students and their specialized teachers. I have also been on the special education side trying to get regular education teachers to work more effectively with my special education students through modifying their instruction and materials and having a little more patience and empathy.

Furthermore, I have been a mainstream regular education teacher who taught regular education inclusion classes trying to figure out how to best work with some new special education teacher in my class and his or her special education students as well. And, in contrast, I have been a special education inclusion teacher intruding on the territory of some regular education teachers with my special education students and the modifications I thought these teachers should implement. I can tell you first-hand that none of this give and take between special education and regular education has been easy. Nor do I see this pushing and pulling becoming easy anytime soon.

So, what is special education? And what makes it so special and yet so complex and controversial sometimes? Well, special education, as its name suggests, is a specialized branch of education. It claims its lineage to such people as Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard (1775-1838), the physician who “tamed” the “wild boy of Aveyron,” and Anne Sullivan Macy (1866-1936), the teacher who “worked miracles” with Helen Keller.

Special educators teach students who have physical, cognitive, language, learning, sensory, and/or emotional abilities that deviate from those of the general population. Special educators provide instruction specifically tailored to meet individualized needs. These teachers basically make education more available and accessible to students who otherwise would have limited access to education due to whatever disability they are struggling with.

It’s not just the teachers though who play a role in the history of special education in this country. Physicians and clergy, including Itard- mentioned above, Edouard O. Seguin (1812-1880), Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876), and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787-1851), wanted to ameliorate the neglectful, often abusive treatment of individuals with disabilities. Sadly, education in this country was, more often than not, very neglectful and abusive when dealing with students that are different somehow.

There is even a rich literature in our nation that describes the treatment provided to individuals with disabilities in the 1800s and early 1900s. Sadly, in these stories, as well as in the real world, the segment of our population with disabilities were often confined in jails and almshouses without decent food, clothing, personal hygiene, and exercise.

For an example of this different treatment in our literature one needs to look no further than Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843). In addition, many times people with disabilities were often portrayed as villains, such as in the book Captain Hook in J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” in 1911.

The prevailing view of the authors of this time period was that one should submit to misfortunes, both as a form of obedience to God’s will, and because these seeming misfortunes are ultimately intended for one’s own good. Progress for our people with disabilities was hard to come by at this time with this way of thinking permeating our society, literature and thinking.

So, what was society to do about these people of misfortune? Well, during much of the nineteenth century, and early in the twentieth, professionals believed individuals with disabilities were best treated in residential facilities in rural environments. An out of sight out of mind kind of thing, if you will…

However, by the end of the nineteenth century the size of these institutions had increased so dramatically that the goal of rehabilitation for people with disabilities just wasn’t working. Institutions became instruments for permanent segregation.

I have some experience with these segregation policies of education. Some of it is good and some of it is not so good. You see, I have been a self-contained teacher on and off throughout the years in multiple environments in self-contained classrooms in public high schools, middle schools and elementary schools. I have also taught in multiple special education behavioral self-contained schools that totally separated these troubled students with disabilities in managing their behavior from their mainstream peers by putting them in completely different buildings that were sometimes even in different towns from their homes, friends and peers.

Over the years many special education professionals became critics of these institutions mentioned above that separated and segregated our children with disabilities from their peers. Irvine Howe was one of the first to advocate taking our youth out of these huge institutions and to place out residents into families. Unfortunately this practice became a logistical and pragmatic problem and it took a long time before it could become a viable alternative to institutionalization for our students with disabilities.

Now on the positive side, you might be interested in knowing however that in 1817 the first special education school in the United States, the American Asylum for the Education and Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb (now called the American School for the Deaf), was established in Hartford, Connecticut, by Gallaudet. That school is still there today and is one of the top schools in the country for students with auditory disabilities. A true success story!

However, as you can already imagine, the lasting success of the American School for the Deaf was the exception and not the rule during this time period. And to add to this, in the late nineteenth century, social Darwinism replaced environmentalism as the primary causal explanation for those individuals with disabilities who deviated from those of the general population.

Sadly, Darwinism opened the door to the eugenics movement of the early twentieth century. This then led to even further segregation and even sterilization of individuals with disabilities such as mental retardation. Sounds like something Hitler was doing in Germany also being done right here in our own country, to our own people, by our own people. Kind of scary and inhumane, wouldn’t you agree?

Today, this kind of treatment is obviously unacceptable. And in the early part of the 20th Century it was also unacceptable to some of the adults, especially the parents of these disabled children. Thus, concerned and angry parents formed advocacy groups to help bring the educational needs of children with disabilities into the public eye. The public had to see firsthand how wrong this this eugenics and sterilization movement was for our students that were different if it was ever going to be stopped.

Slowly, grassroots organizations made progress that even led to some states creating laws to protect their citizens with disabilities. For example, in 1930, in Peoria, Illinois, the first white cane ordinance gave individuals with blindness the right-of-way when crossing the street. This was a start, and other states did eventually follow suit. In time, this local grassroots’ movement and states’ movement led to enough pressure on our elected officials for something to be done on the national level for our people with disabilities.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy created the President’s Panel on Mental Retardation. And in 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provided funding for primary education, and is seen by advocacy groups as expanding access to public education for children with disabilities.

When one thinks about Kennedy’s and Johnson’s record on civil rights, then it probably isn’t such a surprise finding out that these two presidents also spearheaded this national movement for our people with disabilities.

This federal movement led to section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. This guarantees civil rights for the disabled in the context of federally funded institutions or any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. All these years later as an educator, I personally deal with 504 cases every single day.

In 1975 Congress enacted Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA), which establishes a right to public education for all children regardless of disability. This was another good thing because prior to federal legislation, parents had to mostly educate their children at home or pay for expensive private education.

The movement kept growing. In the 1982 the case of the Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified the level of services to be afforded students with special needs. The Court ruled that special education services need only provide some “educational benefit” to students. Public schools were not required to maximize the educational progress of students with disabilities.

Today, this ruling may not seem like a victory, and as a matter of fact, this same question is once again circulating through our courts today in 2017. However, given the time period it was made in, it was a victory because it said special education students could not pass through our school system without learning anything. They had to learn something. If one knows and understands how the laws work in this country, then one knows the laws always progress through tiny little increments that add up to progress over time. This ruling was a victory for special education students because it added one more rung onto the crusade.

In the 1980s the Regular Education Initiative (REI) came into being. This was an attempt to return responsibility for the education of students with disabilities to neighborhood schools and regular classroom teachers. I am very familiar with Regular Education Initiative because I spent four years as an REI teacher in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At this time I was certified as both a special education teacher and a regular education teacher and was working in both capacities in a duel role as an REI teacher; because that’s what was required of the position.

The 1990s saw a big boost for our special education students. 1990 birthed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This was, and is, the cornerstone of the concept of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for all of our students. To ensure FAPE, the law mandated that each student receiving special education services must also receive an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 reached beyond just the public schools. And Title 3 of IDEA prohibited disability-based discrimination in any place of public accommodation. Full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations in public places were expected. And of course public accommodations also included most places of education.

Also, in the 1990s the full inclusion movement gained a lot of momentum. This called for educating all students with disabilities in the regular classroom. I am also very familiar with this aspect of education as well, as I have also been an inclusion teacher from time to time over my career as an educator on both sides of the isle as a regular education teacher and a special education teacher.

Now on to President Bush and his educational reform with his No Child Left Behind law that replaced President Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The NCLB Act of 2001 stated that special education should continue to focus on producing results and along with this came a sharp increase in accountability for educators.

Now, this NCLB Act was good and bad. Of course we all want to see results for all of our students, and it’s just common sense that accountability helps this sort of thing happen. Where this kind of went crazy was that the NCLB demanded a host of new things, but did not provide the funds or support to achieve these new objectives.

Furthermore, teachers began feeling squeezed and threatened more and more by the new movement of big business and corporate education moving in and taking over education. People with no educational background now found themselves influencing education policy and gaining access to a lot of the educational funds.

This accountability craze stemmed by excessive standardized testing ran rapid and of course ran downstream from a host of well-connected elite Trump-like figures saying to their lower echelon educational counterparts, “You’re fired!” This environment of trying to stay off of the radar in order to keep one’s job, and beating our kids over the head with testing strategies, wasn’t good for our educators. It wasn’t good for our students. And it certainly wasn’t good for our more vulnerable special education students.

Some good did come from this era though. For example, the updated Individuals with Disabilities with Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) happened. This further required schools to provide individualized or special education for children with qualifying disabilities. Under the IDEA, states who accept public funds for education must provide special education to qualifying children with disabilities. Like I said earlier, the law is a long slow process of tiny little steps adding up to progress made over time.

Finally, in 2015 President Obama’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced President Bush’s NCLB, which had replaced President Johnson’s ESEA. Under Obama’s new ESSA schools were now allowed to back off on some of the testing. Hopefully, the standardized testing craze has been put in check. However, only time will tell. ESSA also returned to more local control. You know, the kind of control our forefathers intended.

You see the U.S. Constitution grants no authority over education to the federal government. Education is not mentioned in the Constitution of the United States, and for good reason. The Founders wanted most aspects of life managed by those who were closest to them, either by state or local government or by families, businesses, and other elements of civil society. Basically, they saw no role for the federal government in education.

You see, the Founders feared the concentration of power. They believed that the best way to protect individual freedom and civil society was to limit and divide power. However, this works both ways, because the states often find themselves asking the feds for more educational money. And the feds will only give the states additional money if the states do what the feds want… Hmm… Checks and balances, as well as compromise can be a really tricky thing, huh?

So on goes the battle in education and all the back and forth pushing and pulling between the federal government and the states and local government, as well as special education and regular education. And to add to this struggle, recently Judge Moukawsher, a state judge from Connecticut, in a lawsuit filed against the state by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, rocked the educational boat some more when in his ruling he included a message to lawmakers to reassess what level of services students with significant disabilities are entitled to.

His ruling and statements appear to say that he thinks we’re spending too much money on our special education students. And that for some of them, it just isn’t worth it because their disabilities are too severe. You can imagine how controversial this was and how much it angered some people.

The 2016 United States Presidential election resulted in something that few people saw coming. Real Estate mogul and reality star Donald Trump won the presidency and then appointed anti-public educator Betsy Devos to head up this country’s Department of Education. Her charge, given to her by Trump, is to drastically slash the Department of Education, and to push forward private charter schools over what they call a failing public educational system.

How this is going to affect our students, and especially our more vulnerable special education students, nobody knows for sure at this time. But, I can also tell you that there aren’t many people out there that feel comfortable with it right now. Only time will tell where this is all going to go and how it will affect our special education students…

So, as I said earlier, perhaps the largest, most pervasive issue in special education is its relationship to general education. Both my own travels and our nation’s journey through the vast realm of education over all of these years has been an interesting one and a tricky one plagued with controversy to say the least.

I can still remember when I first became a special education teacher back in the mid-1990s. A friend’s father, who was a school principal at the time, told me to get out of special education because it wasn’t going to last. Well, I’ve been in and out of special education for more than two decades now, and sometimes I don’t know if I’m a regular education teacher or a special education teacher, or both. And sometimes I think our country’s educational system might be feeling the same internal struggle that I am. But, regardless, all these years later, special education is still here.

Computers and Cheap Watches

There are tons of expensive watches out there that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The majority of these watches are all classic, mechanical pieces that have so many features it makes telling time incredibly difficult. What is the point of spending all that money for something that is not even going to serve the intended purpose? That is why one should greatly consider computer powered, cheap watches, also known as digital watches.Although many digital watches have a very low cost, there are many out there that can be almost as expensive as traditional watches. If you want a watch to look classy, then there is no point in shelling out tons of cash for a good looking digital watch, so those should be avoided. If you want to save money, then a digital watch is perfect for you. You can get a fairly decent digital watch for between twenty and fifty dollars, and there are some out there that are as low as ten dollars, but the quality of said watches is very low.Digital watches are great because they cost so little and serve the purpose of a watch exceptionally well. With a traditional watch, it can be somewhat difficult to tell the time, at least at a moment’s notice. Digital watches enable you to look quickly down at your hand and know the time right to the second, as long as the time you set it to is accurate.As computers and technology become more sophisticated, so will digital watches. Already at this point in time, there are many watches that have features that used to be found only in decades old computers. Thinking about that, it is amazing to think how far we have progressed. Who knows, perhaps we will be playing three dimensional games on our watches in just a few years. With the way things are going, that is not too far out there.