[EDEQUITY Disability] Opening Statement by Christine Valenciana

From: Valenciana, Christine (cvalenciana@Exchange.FULLERTON.EDU)
Date: Mon Aug 19 2002 - 10:13:26 EDT

Hi All,
  I am Christine Valenciana, a faculty member at California State
University Fullerton, Dept. of Elementary and Bilingual Education. My
institution, located in Southern California, is part of the California
State University system. Previously, I have been a bilingual classroom
teacher, resource teacher, principal as well as school administrator and
have participated in many SST's over the years especially if an English
Language Learner was the designated student. In addition, I was site
administrator at a California State Preschool and Day Care Center with two
SDC classes, many who were Spanish speaking. On a personal note, I have
two children age 15 and 11 who are on 504 Accommodation Plans for
disabilities in visual perception. Neither of my children qualify for
special education as they are identified gifted students.
  Our department prepares teachers to serve the diverse population of
Southern California where the minority student population is now the
majority. We are presently in the process of revising our teacher
credentialing requirements as are all other teacher education programs in
California. One of the issues that we have discussed this last year was how
and when to have credential students include accommodations for special
education students. There was some discussion as to how realistic this is
since students will now be required to include adaptations in all lesson
plans for English Language Learners as part of their teacher education.
According to my recollection, we agreed as a faculty that we would deal
with this issue during the 2002-2003 school year. Some faculty were
concerned that asking beginners struggling with basic lesson design would
find further accommodations for special education students somewhat
  In spite of many positive changes for special education students which I
have seen since the 1970's, I see that special needs students are still an
afterthought to some educators or worse yet the children are invisible or
considered an extra duty. Over the years, I have noticed that few beginning
teachers have any knowledge about possible learning disabilities among
their mainstream students. These beginning teachers only know that one or
more of their students are not learning and they do not know what to do or
who to turn to for assistance. This becomes even more complicated given the
high percentage of English Learners in California. I believe that
preservice teachers should receive more practical strategies for early
detection and strategies for diagnosis and referral.
  As a parent, receiving appropriate help for my children has been a real
challenge. I have found most of their teachers willing to accommodate
instruction and the schools have been generally very supportive. However,
it has been my responsibility to study, research and find help for my
children through private means and the public school system as well. If I
was not a highly educated parent, I do not know how my kids would have ever
been diagnosed or helped!

Christine Valenciana
Asst. Professor
California State University Fullerton
Dept. of Elementary and Bilingual Education

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