FishEaters Traditional Catholic Forums

Full Version: University of Notre Dame: ACE expands to SPED
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
ACE: Alliance for Catholic Education
SPED: Special Education
PIE: Program for Inclusive Education

Say what you want about Notre Dame and Catholic schools in general, but I think this is a step in the right direction. No other Catholic, or small "c" Catholic university, to my knowledge has brought the issue of an almost nonexistent Catholic SPED division within Catholic schools like Notre Dame has. The university's ACE program is the religious version of Teach for America, usually putting Notre Dame students (known as teacher fellows) in Catholic schools across the country in every major and minor city. Part of the hope is for the fellows is to choose to continue to teach in Catholic schools after they obtain their MA in teacher education from the program. A little over two years ago ACE birthed a certificate program called PIE to aid teachers to help students who fall under special education.

Quote:"The Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) is built on the belief that Catholic schools are called to serve justly and inclusively to ensure success for all learners. It envisions schools that are prepared to educate every student regardless of diverse learning, behavioral, social, emotional, and physical needs. PIE seeks to create a culture where "all are welcome" and strengthen Catholic schools’ ability to inclusively educate."

This sort of helps parents who have a child who has special needs and wants them to attend a Catholic school, but it's just a small piece of the puzzle. The main issue I see is funding. Before non-clerical professionals took over teaching at Catholic schools various religious orders of sisters and nuns taught children. Today you'd be lucky to find one in a habit let alone one at all in a Catholic school these days teaching. These sisters and nuns, to my knowledge, didn't require much of salary hence tuition was quite low since in education tuition pays for salaries unless the institution has a large endowment. Many in the PIE program are probably trained to be general education teachers, not SPED teachers. It's good for such teachers to acquire the knowledge and skillset to help SPED students because it's better than nothing, but it's far from enough. Besides tuition, Catholic schools - if not ACE - need to further focus on this development. 

There's a whole list of SPED professionals that need to be part of the conversation in order to fulfill the "all are welcome" mission:

SPED teachers
School social worker (community resources, brief therapeutic sessions, IEP/504 SEL goals, MTSS)
School psychologist (initial assessment + re-evals for learning disabilities, IEP academic/cognitive goals, MTSS)
Case manager (schedules IEP/504 meetings, gets parent consent for initial assessments + re-evals, deals with the legal side of SPED)
Nurse (meds)
Occupational Therapist (mobility issues; usually helps students with poor mechanics in handwriting and those with muscular dystrophy)
Speech Pathologist (helps students with speech impediments like stuttering, slurring etc.)
Paraprofessionals (if it's deemed necessary, stays with student in specific classes to help with mobility, organization, and to give prompts)

In the public education system this cadre of specialists are called the " IEP/504 team." They deal with every teacher referral of students that might be qualified for SPED.

PIE is just the surface of Catholic SPED and in order to compete against the public education system Catholic SPED needs to develop and keep up or else I don't fault parents choosing the almost "free" public education.
I don't know...Catholic education almost seems outdated to me.  It worked well when parishes were full of large families, and when sisters taught in the schools for next to nothing.  As it is, there are some parishes that really can support a school without any problems.  Some parishes, however, really should have closed their schools years ago.  They don't, unfortunately, for some reason.  Instead, they keep on hemorrhaging money and effort into one aspect of parish life while the rest of the parish dries up.