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Thursday, April 21, 2011

MacNeil on Autism and Education

Tonight's segment focuses on educational issues:

MacNeil speaks to Rima Ritholtz, the principal of PS 176, an autism school in the Bronx:

RIMA RITHOLTZ: My educational philosophy is that they're children first before they're children with autism. And they deserve the exact same quality of programming and professionalism that any student would get anywhere else.

ROBERT MACNEIL: Her teacher-to-student ratio begins at one teacher plus a teacher's aide to six students, moving as students progress, to less-restrictive classrooms, with eight to 12 children.

RIMA RITHOLTZ: We're trying to approximate the general education programs and hopefully, eventually, we'd like our students to return to general education.

ROBERT MACNEIL: And what proportion do?

RIMA RITHOLTZ: I would say a very small proportion. Out of 700 students, I would say maybe 10 students return.

He also mentions the state's only charter school for autism:

ROBERT MACNEIL: Then a charter school for autism was announced, with 30 places to be filled by lottery.

JESSE MOJICA: I heard about the charter school, and I said wow, that's fascinating. One on one, you know, teaching. And I said that's what Adam needs. And we put our hat in the lottery. And we found out that Adam just barely missed it. And it was devastating to us, it was devastating. Here was something that I felt would help my son, that I felt powerless to help him. I was heartbroken, I was, but it is the way it should be. I mean it is by lottery, and there is no preference to anybody, no matter where you are from, or who you know, and that's fair.

ROBERT MACNEIL: But another boy from the Bronx did win the lottery to the charter school in Manhattan.

CAROL SANTIAGO: A gift from God. We won the lottery. That's what I like to tell people, because it really was a lottery.