Alaska Natives Students and the FAPE Provision of The IDEA (Updated with thoughts for 2015-16)
This will be an update on the issue of FAPE; it will be a start of a ten part series, with the format being to take existing parts of the essay, of the theme and adding in some real time research, or just updates from the ground. (Biberg, 2015)
The issue of Free and Appropriate Public Education is one that has evolved over the last few decades or so. It is an issue that has been clarified by the courts on occasion (Rowley, Moore, et al) and has seen an ever expanding criteria for what it means to provide FAPE for school districts and what it means to have access to a FAPE for students. Like many issues,
FAPE and its implementation has been lacking in rural Bush schools. In this essay, the ways that the FAPE standard is being upheld and more attention will be given to the ways in which FAPE is not usually the norm for Native students in general but Native students with disabilities in particular. The idea is to show ways in which rural schools have failed to provide FAPE in the past and continue to do so in the future. This is not to be a judge of Bush schools or of the legislation itself.
FAPE as a fundamental part of the IDEA legislation has been a powerful and effective strengthening of special education law and of laws protecting other students with disabilities. Rather, the point is to show how challenging it is to provide FAPE in Bush Alaska (and for that matter what a challenge it is to provide many services, whether they be education, counseling, or other support services…the socio-economic challenges are many). Implementing education reform in general is hard and providing a FAPE to Bush students in particularly hard.
Things to consider:
Community involvement: part of the PBIS.org made stresses that any meaningful change in the culture of learning must involve the community and local learning. (key: places based learning and utilization of community experts).
Myth of Golden Teacher: the idea that a perfect teacher can come to the North Slope or Bush Alaska and jump in and succeed. This is a myth and the skills needed to be an effective Bush or Slope teacher are acquired from a mentor teacher and/or time in village will a local expert. the key is if the inservice time could better replete that experience and accelerate the process of learning to be culturally relevant teacher.
Motivated students and leaned helplessness: students have learned, little by little that they can do less and less (and still pass) and teachers have played along by doing too much for the students; students are lacking the ability to work on there own and be life long independent learners. It is time to let the young people hunt for themselves; teach them the basics and the skills, but allow more time for independent practice.
Time- it takes time to make the cultural connections and get in the flow of the nuance of a place. the students and community experience a lot of history and educational interaction before I/you came, that is affecting what we are working with today. Time is our friend, in terms of change, but it will be slow and arduous work. It will get better.
the Slope- like the rest of Alaska, the Slope is dependent (or became dependent) on the oil of the North Slope. That will not change anytime soon; but like the rest of Alaska and recognition that diversification is necessary; that a move away from fossil fuels is the goals; that subsistence and development can go hand in hand, but high safety standards need to be in place; the trade off is not subsistence vs development, but culture and subsistence on once hand (as a value and guiding principle) and being sure development is in line with that value. (hopefully Shell is setting a new standard)
In conclusion in FAPE updated: right now a lot of work needs to happen before a better standard is met; but in order to do that right once has to be honest and realistic about the history, economics, values, and needs of the communities, and then to work in collaboration to deliver services that are in line with those values and those needs. But the people need to work towards educational and cultural self-determination, and and education population is a key to that.
The next generation needs their William Hensely's, Paul Ongtooguk's, and Etok Edwardson, and others who in their own way broke barriers, pushed envelope's and provided leadership. Like an adaptation to the land, an adaptation to the education system needs to take place. An adaptation on all parts of the pump stations of education, but for sure, an individual, existential adaptation on the part of leaners is essential. They have to do their part in demanding FAPE os provided and they need to embrace the structure or work towards a better structure that allows them to manifest FAPE.
next time: FAPE updated and learning from History (Paul Berg and Ray Barnhardt)