Archive for October, 2011
6 Ways to Improve Special Education For All Children With Special Needs!
Are you the parent of a child with autism or another disability that is frustrated by the special education system? More than 6 million students with disabilities receive special education services in federally funded special education programs. This is about 9% of the country’s school age population. This is a lot of children who depend on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), to help them get the services that they need to live a fulfilled life. As any parent of a child with a disability knows much improvement needs to be made to the special education system. This article will discuss 6 ways to improve the special education system.
Needed to improve the special education system:
1. More available parent training and more resources to pay for the training! Parent trainings are available but in most cases do cost, which prevents some parents from attending. Parents must understand their rights under IDEA in order to be effective advocates for their child.
2. More effective enforcement of IDEA, to include the withholding of funds from states and school districts, who are continually non compliant! The enforcement of IDEA basically does not exist. It is the federal governments responsibility to enforce IDEA to the states, and it is the states responsibility to enforce IDEA of local school districts. Neither one does very much in this area. Enforcement without withholding of funds will not work. In my experience it will not take many states losing their IDEA funding, before major positive changes will occur.
3. Improved diagnosis of disabilities and an easier eligibility process! Many children with disabilities throughout the US are told that they do not have a disability, therefore are not eligible for special education services. This reality hurts children with disabilities and may forever ruin their lives! Parents often do not even know that they can disagree with the schools opinion! The eligibility process needs to be made more child friendly!
4. Special education personnel must set realistic high expectations for all children with disabilities! Congress has said from the beginning that school districts expectations of children with disabilities are too low. School personnel and parents must believe that children can be successful in their education and lives, if given an appropriate education, and keep expectations high.
5. Focus on outcomes of special education so that all children will be ready for post school learning and independent living! For the year 2005-2006 55% of children with disabilities graduated from high school, in comparison to a little over 70% of children without disabilities graduated from high school. This will limit the children’s ability to go to college or get a job, which will affect the rest of their lives!
6. Improve the federal funding of IDEA! The current estimates are that the federal government only pays about 17% of per pupil costs for special education. The federal government needs to put their money where there mouth is, and fund IDEA fully!
All parents can be involved in advocating for systemic special education improvements. Notify your state and federal representatives and see how they are willing to get involved, in this process. Children with disabilities deserve to receive an appropriate education and live their lives to the fullest!
Special Education and the Debate on School Funding Considered
Well, right now we are witnessing the implosion of our education system in the United States as we lay off more and more teachers. We also see that teachers who have already retired are being paid huge amounts of money in their pension, and health care costs.
We can no longer afford to do this, and if we tax properties in many states any more than we are now, we are just going to continually see less money coming in due to the near collapse of the real estate market, and all those old folks will become wards of the state where we will spend all our money.
This doesn’t bode well for families of special education children, who often require fewer kids in the classroom, and more supervision. They also require more assistance from school staff, and this all adds costs to teach each student. Meanwhile parents of normal kids are quite concerned because money is diverted into the special education program, and they don’t believe their kids are getting a fair shake. This may or may not be true depending on which side of the argument you stand, but this is the debate that’s going on today.
Our school districts are cutting staff, teachers, and cutting costs wherever they can, including janitors that clean the restrooms, and other important things that we probably don’t think about. And yes, the special education department will also have to be cut if we are to maintain any sense a real educational system at all. Worse, there is far too much controversy, and chaos on the school boards and far too many parents threatening to sue. It also costs lots of money defending these lawsuits, and that is additional money that is not being used in the classroom.
If the special education departments take up a large amount of any given school’s budget, there is less money for other things, and this takes a toll on the educational experience of each child. These cost reduction programs have to come from somewhere, and these will be hard choices to make, but they must be made nevertheless. Indeed I hope you will please consider this.