An interesting article I found, “Is The Bar Too Low For Special Education“, addresses this issue. According to the article there is currently a case in the Supreme Court centered on the issue of how public schools teach special education. Currently, it provides for AN education, but doesn’t qualify what the quality of that education has to be.
One of the saddest quotes in the article to me was from Congress in 1975. The article states, “children with disabilities were ‘totally excluded from schools or sitting idly in regular classrooms awaiting the time they were old enough to drop out.” No child should be simply wasting away waiting to drop pout of school because it is so clearly not suited for them. I believe this could address many other issues surrounding education, but for the sake of this post, we’ll stick with how it reflects special education.
This heartbreaking statement led to the creation of legislation giving mentally handicapped children an equal right to an education tailored to their needs. However, it did not detail what this education should look like or how much was “enough.” Who gets to decide when a child no longer deserves an education that will truly impact and better them?
I find it very interesting that the family mentioned in the above article has brought a case all the way to the Supreme Court to decide if special education should be paid for out of the public school system. Should it be up to the public school system to raise their standards on special ed programs, or should they provide something resembling vouchers for families to enroll in schools that will successfully challenge, improve, and nurture mentally handicapped students?
In my personal opinion, I think that public schools should be forced to raise their standards and provide higher quality education for students with varying degrees of handicaps. While I realize this is extremely challenging and a huge task, I think it is important one to make sure we aren’t shunning such a large part of our population from the basic right that is legally offered them.
However this debate has a murky future as the incoming Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, failed to impress with her responses to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Many said she seemed to lean neither way on special education issues, but rather appear “indifferent” as one US News article put it.
While there is certainly much debate on the quality and structure of schooling today, special education deserves to be discussed too.
I know quite a few special education teachers and, like many other teachers, they have such a passion for teaching kids with disabilities, it always amazes me. This is a huge source of untapped potential! No one knows the system better than those who are working in it day in and day out, and they were educated on how to set those children up for the brightest possible future. Simply asking them how they believe the system can be best reformed to increase the quality of special education would be a great first step.