Rethinking Preschool Special Ed: Educators Speak Up

Rethinking Preschool Special Ed: Educators Speak Up. Hey there, folks! Let’s chat about what’s up with preschool special education in Maine. So, here’s the deal: the Gorham School District is noticing that kindergarteners are taking longer to hit their goals, especially when it comes to speech. Director of special services, Kathy Hamblen, says they’re needing more help and resources than before.

And guess what? This isn’t just happening in Gorham. Angela Moore, director of special education for Brewer, says they’ve had to amp up services too, especially for kindergarteners who come in needing more support than expected.

Telling It Like It Is

Educators didn’t hold back when they spoke to the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. They were there to talk about a bill that could shake up how preschool special ed works in Maine. The Maine Department of Education cooked up a plan, and educators had a lot to say about it.

What’s the Plan?

The big idea is to move responsibility for special education for kids ages three to five from Child Development Services (CDS) to public school districts. CDS will still handle younger kids, but they’ll also help public schools step up their game in special ed.

Taking It Slow

Now, the original plan was to make this change in three years, but folks thought that was a bit rushed. So, they’re giving it an extra year to roll out. Makes sense, right?

What’s the Catch?

Well, here’s the thing: while most folks are on board with the plan, they’re worried about a few things. One big question is who’s gonna foot the bill for extra services for kids who missed out before. Educators want CDS to pick up the tab, not public schools.

And let’s talk about staffing. Some folks are concerned about having enough qualified staff to handle the workload. Plus, there’s the issue of waitlists. Lots of kids are still waiting for help, so educators are pushing for ways to boost the workforce ASAP.

Moving Forward

Sure, this plan isn’t perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. The Education Committee is diving into the nitty-gritty this week, so stay tuned for updates. And hey, change isn’t always easy, but sometimes you gotta give it a shot, right?