Diamonds Not Dinosaurs
We have in Hamilton County three gems that have been consistently supported by the voters of this county. Those "diamonds" are the Hamilton County MRDD schools: Frederick Breyer, Bobbie Fairfax and Margaret Rost Schools. Our country decided to provide an education for ALL children with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1974. Hamilton County was actually already providing for special needs children before that through MRDD schools. With this history of progressive thinking we hate to see our community take a step backward. Inclusion opportunities are wonderful for some children, but they do not represent the "least restrictive environment" for all.
Unfortunately, the educational pendulum of inclusion has labeled MRDD schools and those that support them, "dinosaurs". With that thinking, many well meaning people in education are not providing families with information on all of their educational options. MRDD schools should be allowed and expected to present their schools as a viable option. This is not being done because of a County Commissioner’s Tax Levy Review Committee stipulation that "no new programs be started that might attract new enrollees".
Now the plan is to discard one of the "diamonds".We are begging to keep the educational opportunity options available that we have now. With the closing of an MRDD school other placement options will be encouraged (inclusion or MRDD Satellites) and a detrimentally crowded situation will be in the two remaining schools making it difficult to achieve Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals. These other placements are NOT equivalent to the MRDD schools.
These MRDD schools provide: specially trained teachers and staff in all areas; adapted physical education, art and music from certified people experienced with special needs; there are Physical, Occupational, Speech and Behavioral Therapists on site; a nurse is available at the school at all times to deal with medically fragile children, seizures, and feeding issues. Every part of each building is accessible and has specialized equipment (communication devices, sensory rooms, enclosed outside play areas, life skills equipment).
Do you know that certified regular education teachers do not need to have special education training? With a population of like peers, specialized events or activities are possible where the special needs child is the norm like Breyer Adapted Irish Dance Team, Fairfax Singing Fingers, Sitting Teams, Prom and Special Event Days.For years the three MRDD schools have prepared people to achieve to the best of their abilities because the staff has been trained to deal with special needs issues.
Very few "other options" (local public school or satellites) truly can duplicate what is available at Breyer, Rost or Fairfax. If the "secret" of what a wonderful job the MRDD staff does could be brought out the enrollment numbers may not even be an issue.
We are NOT against inclusion. It works well for many children. We are for options! Please contact the Hamilton County Commissioners and the MRDD Board and Administration to tell them you have voted with your heart to support the children with disabilities and do not want to see their services cut or their education options eliminated.In the era of "No Child Left Behind", without these MRDD schools our children will be LEFT BEHIND!-submitted by Robby's Mom
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