Special education teachers fight for more funding as classrooms struggle

Posted at 3:33 PM, Apr 05, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- With day four at the Capitol, special ed teachers want to remind lawmakers this isn't about them.

Instead, they're thinking about students that aren't getting the tools they need.

"We have to sometimes use resources from the regular class and we don't get the materials we need specifically for the needs of our kids because of the finances. So we take what the regular teacher has and we try to modify or adjust it and adapt as best we can," Kendall-Whittier Elementary teacher Donna Lemonier said.
These educators are also losing the para-professionals that assist the individual concerns of students. One East Central High School teacher said his school lost five aides in the last two years. Now, he often teaches multiple subjects at one time.

"Within special ed, we don't have enough teachers to teach different subjects. We have two different subjects in the same class at the same time. You know, you're biology while you're earth science," Christopher Hurt said.

Without needed staffing, those with emotional disabilities often lash out, getting discipline instead of education.

"It's just heartbreaking as a teacher. You try every day and you know what they're capable of. You see little glimmers when you're able to work one on one, or when they're in a smaller group setting. It just hurts," Hurt said.

As the week winds down, these teachers plan to continue spending four hours on a bus and many more in front of the capitol. They say they'll do whatever it takes to see change.

"It's very frustrating and it makes me very emotional. I've been crying seeing the signs with so much support of our teachers," Lemonier said.

Special Ed teachers said another issue is speech and pathology testing. The backlog for that right now can sometimes go up to a year.

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