Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Hola, soy redesignated…

By on November 7, 2008

So, please, somebody tell me how this scenario is best for the child:

Recently, I received a student, a full quarter into the school year, from our ELD classes.  That’s not the problem as much as the fact that she doesn’t speak English.  So I asked our counselors what the history was and what they could tell me about the reasoning for the move.  

It seems that this student came to us from LAUSD with no files last year.  With no files, we tested her to place her appropriately.  She tested in ELD (clearly.)  She spent last year in ELD, this first part of the year in ELD, and then her files from LAUSD finally showed up.  It seems that she was tested prior to leaving her last district and redesignated.  Given that her record said she should be in mainstream and despite the results from our own testing, she was pulled from her current class and put in my, faster moving, spiraling curriculum, mainstream class.  

According to law, if she was once redesignated, then we can’t keep her in ELD.  

When I asked how I could help her better, I got the following answer: differentiation.

You know, as a teacher who chronically differentiates and who buys-in whole-heartedly to its theory and practice, I find this answer offensive.

Differentiation is not a catchall for “do it all.”  There are programs set up that are meant to help students.  Our ELD program is second in the state, and now, because of this law that makes no sense, I am told that I am this girl’s best option?

I think I’m a great teacher, but I hardly think I am her best option.  Yes, I’ve been working with her separately from the other students, trying to catch her up with some of the main brushstrokes of narrative writing or story structure.  Yes, I’ve been giving her differentiated assignments and modified assignments tailored to her level.  Yes, I’ve been adjusted my teaching strategies.  I believe it’s my job to do all of these things. 

But if a better option exists to help a student, isn’t it the system’s job to make sure she has access to it?  

I’m doing what I can, but even I know that sometimes that’s not enough.  The room that can help her is just down the hall.  I wonder if she looks back at its door longingly for help the way I do for her.  

Question, dear colleagues: Is there a way around this “law?” 


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