LETTER: Reporting Should Feature Special Ed Success Stories

Letter to the editor from Kevin Fitzpatrick, former faculty member Greenwich Public Schools

I have read with great interest the multiple articles recently published regarding the Special Education Programs in the Greenwich Public Schools. I am writing to try to balance what seems to be a one-sided series of reports. Having been a faculty member in the Greenwich Public Schools, first at Eastern, then for over 20 years at Greenwich High School, what’s missing from the articles are the overwhelmingly positive results teachers see on a daily basis.

During my time in the Greenwich Public Schools, I attended meetings, filled out reports, was constantly contacted by various Special Education monitors, all of whom were concerned about each individual student they were responsible for.

I’ve watched student-after-student grow in confidence and skill, due primarily to the efforts of those who, unlike we curriculum specialists in the past, are tasked with developing the whole student and working with them through their entire journey through the Greenwich Public Schools.

Current research supports the idea that every teacher develop the “whole student,” clearly something the Special Education program in Greenwich Pubic Schools has been ahead of the curve with all this time.

I would suggest that what is missing from these pieces is the balance, statements not only from those who feel they have not been properly serviced, but from those I know to be the large majority of parents and prior students who have gone on to lead successful, happy lives, due in no small part to the assistance and support of these overlooked professionals. I don’t think the writers fully understand how demoralizing the one-sided, constant criticism is to the grunts in the trenches.

My wife is one of those people, and I see day-after-day the hours that are spent continuing to resolve problems at home after arriving home later and later, due to multiple after school meetings because “work time” is inadequate.

I am also not saying that the issues raised do not need to be addressed.

One of the great things about being in education is that we are never satisfied and there is always room to learn and improve. Having said that,  I also need to point out the large number of former students and parents who contact their Special Education teachers well after graduation to express their affection and gratitude.

The points raised in the various pieces are important, what is also important, however, is to keep an eye toward, and to report, in a balanced fashion, what I’m sure with a little research will reveal are success stories which, in number, will not only help balance but also outstrip what these stories paint as a system seemingly broken beyond repair. The people tasked with implementing, guiding, reporting, should be noted for their multiple good works just as easily as they are critiqued for the perceived downfalls in the system. Articles reflecting this side of the situation would be much appreciated.