Government 'Special Ed'

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What follows
is my recollections of my years in the public education system,
which fortunately ended when I went to college. Because these events
took place over a long period of time — what has, thus-far, been
the majority of my life — I may have some of the sequences slightly
out of order, but the actual details and overall picture is right.

When I attended
elementary and early middle school, I was placed in “special education”
(SE) classes; this was due to misdiagnosis on the part of whoever
decided and lack of attention, boredom, and misbehavior on my part.
In any event, the special education classes were entirely useless,
and I didn’t learn anything from second until sixth grade in the
classes I was in. By the time I was in seventh grade, I could barely
spell or use proper grammar/punctuation and didn’t know how to add
fractions. This was not unique to me, but was a reflection of what
was (not) taught. Most of the day in special education classes was
spent on humbug — liberal, PC feel-good non-sense. We spent a great
amount of time playing games, or engaging in other “free-time” activities.

Many of the
kids in those special education classes had below average intelligence,
although there were also others wrongly there for similar reasons
as I was there. What the special education classes did was not in
their best interest, and was a waste of time. Rather than spending
additional time teaching important material, less time was spent
teaching and demanding that students learn, more time spent on feel-goodism.
There was even an idiotic “student of the month” feelgood award
for the most exceptional student of the month, to which the moronic
“We are the Champions” song was repeatedly played. What children
of below-average intelligence, or with learning disabilities, need
is not leftist feel-good coddling and “self-esteem” reassurance.
What they need is to be held to the same meaningful standards —
if they are to be educated — as others. They simply need to work
and study longer to obtain the same degree of understanding.

In any event,
returning to my story, by the time I was in 6th grade, I was almost
completely in “mainstream” classes, except for English and perhaps
Mathematics (I forget if I was in mainstream math by then). This
was the end of elementary school, next was Middle School (a new
creation then, a bridge between elementary and high-school). For
some mysterious reason — apparently because the “difficulty” was
greater — I was set back to completely special education classes
in middle school. This infuriated me. To make matters worse, my
special education teacher in middle school was a hyperactive control
freak, who for some reason (probably a power kick) insisted on keeping
me in special education classes, even though I excelled in mainstream
classes when I started taking them. The alleged justification was
my “behavior problems” in the special education classes, which of
course was a natural result of resentment towards the complete worthlessness
of the special education classes (again special education was a
waste of time in which no learning took place, only leftist catering
to the “self-esteem” of the students).

Fortunately,
I was in completely mainstream classes by the end of 8th grade,
no thanks to my SE teacher. It happened because of a commitment
I made to myself to not let my anger at the situation hold me back;
yet, it didn’t happen before an incident with the teacher, in which
I said ” F__k You” to her. This is by far my fondest memory of the
entire time I was in special education. My mainstream science teacher
initially recommended that I take honors science in high-school,
but than changed his recommendation after my special education teacher
talked with him, so I had to take “regents” science my 1st and 2nd
year in high-school. I cannot fathom any explanation for this, other
than that my special education teacher felt the need to somehow
extend her control over me partially into high-school.

In an amazing
tribute to the learning ability of children (and teenagers), I did
very well in my freshman year of high school, getting A’s in science,
mathematics, and English classes. In fact, I received high 90s to
hundreds in mathematics that year; and all throughout high school,
I scored top grades in mathematics, with my lowest score on a math
final being a 99. Unfortunately, because I learned nothing about
mathematics until 8th grade, I wasn’t ahead at an early age, thus
was never in a position to take AP mathematics (Advanced Placement,
college-level courses taught in high-school) courses, although I
did take a college calc course while finishing pre-calc in high-school.
As a Freshman, I had a great teacher in English who realized that
I had potential, and recommended that I take honors English my Sophomore
year, despite my grammatical and spelling difficulties. This was
the one of the best things that ever happened to me; I had a demanding
English teacher, who wrote more red on my papers than I wrote on
them myself. I learned a great deal about grammar and sentence structure.
After taking honors English, I took AP English my two final years;
again, I had demanding teachers, from whom I learned much. I ended
up taking AP classes in history, English, Biology, Chemistry, and
Physics.

Another observation
I noted overall was that even regents (mainstream) classes were
a joke, filled with students who were mortified at the idea of learning,
engaged in various venerable activities, such as throwing spit-balls
and other humbug. I remember a debate coming up in one of my AP
English classes centered on the existence of tiered levels of difficulty
and talent in education; i.e., “Should there be an ‘AP English’
class?” The teacher relayed an argument given by some that, if not
for the best and brightest being in AP classes, regular classes
would be “more like” AP classes, in terms of intellectual rigor,
interest, attention, etc. Most of the students rightly scoffed at
this idea, noting that they didn’t want to be homogenized with everyone
else. Unfortunately, the next class, one of the female students
who had quite rightly scoffed at the idea, and noted the intellectual
inferiority of the regents program, fell over herself apologizing
for her “elitism” and “snobbishness”; this was clearly the PC consciousness.

There are definitely
some “better” parts of public schooling — but you only see such
among segregated classes of the elite, actually focused on learning
something, when teachers hold them to standards. These are the good
teachers. There are also teachers, like the one I had in special
education, who are quite clearly sadistic control-freaks, and who
teach their students nothing. And of course, there’s the typical
teacher who teaches socialist ideas, albeit even some of these can
do students the favor of sparking an interest in learning.

Ultimately,
I must conclude that the system of public education is institutionally
flawed. This is why my fiancé and I will be homeschooling
our yet-to-be children. I predict that more and more education will
be self-directed, in the form of various certifications and programs
(like the CFA, CPA, for example, for finance and accounting).

January
22, 2007

David Heinrich
[send him mail] is
an MBA student at the Simon School at the University of Rochester,
concentrating in finance and accounting.

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