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.
6 Things that our Government need to improve on Special Education
1. Training for Parents
More available parent training and more resources to pay for the training! Parent training is available but in most cases, it does cost, which prevents some parents from attending. Parents must understand their rights under IDEA in order to be effective advocates for their children.
2. Enforcing the Law
More effective enforcement of IDEA, to include the withholding of funds from states and school districts, who are continually noncompliant! The enforcement of IDEA basically does not exist. It is the federal governments’ responsibility to enforce IDEA to the states, and it is the state’s 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 to lose their IDEA funding before major positive changes will occur.
3. Evaluation of Eligibility
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 school’s opinion! The eligibility process needs to be made more child friendly!
4. High Performing Personnel
Special education personnel must set really 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 appropriate education, and keep expectations high.
5. Real-World Learning-Based Knowledge
Focus on the 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. Support Fundings
Improve the federal funding of IDEA! The current estimates are that the federal government only pays about 17% per pupil costs for special education. The federal government needs to put their money where their 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 appropriate education and live their lives to the fullest!