New U.S. rules regarding special education

There’s an article from the AP wire service reprinted today in the online edition of The Arizona Daily Star, entitled “New U.S. rules urge early action to keep pupils out of special ed.” It summarizes new thinking in how to best determine which students need special education. (The previous method was based on IQ scores in relationship to achievement; IQ scores are not terribly relevant in children younger than 4th grade. The new plan hopes to reach out to children, earlier.)

What caught my eye about the new rules was that Madeline Will, a prominent advocate for people with Down syndrome, opposes them. She seems to feel that they will take money away from students with special needs, when the pool of funding is already too small.

I’m not getting it. I would much rather see children helped early; I think it’s best for everyone to help every student succeed, not just the kids with a diagnosis. Am I missing something here?


8 thoughts on “New U.S. rules regarding special education

  1. Ok, so I’m a little late to this party…Wow, I am so grateful to the internet…I would NEVER have known about this issue otherwise! This was not even covered in my home-state’s major papers. The state I live in (on the east coast) is attempting to do something similar with it’s “special needs” schools (there are 7 in the state) by attempting to change the state code to require equal funding for all these schools and special programs but without increasing funding. That means that some programs are absolutely going to lose significant amounts of funding.

    I know I am “preaching to the choir” here, but why is it that we as a nation are willing to allow our government to pour BILLIONS of dollars into foreign conflicts and don’t demand that those funds be kept at home to help the future of our nation? We expect educators to work miracles on shoestring budgets and then wonder why we have fallen so far behind the rest of the world in “human capital” with which to build and sustain our future.

    Sorry, I got a little worked up there. I too am fairly new to the special ed realm with my little guy. Boy, are we getting a “seat of the pants” education as we go!

  2. Like so many things, what I understand of the law indicates there are good points and bad points. I agree with Jen re: funding. Like so many regs, this will all come down as a mandate without proper funding. But, having said that, many of my son’s specialists are in favor of the new model, if not the new laws. If I am right, the new model tosses out the “discrepancy” model which only catches kids when they start to fail, and replaces it with more accurate assessments of the problems kids might be facing. Again, not enough funding, for sure, but possibly not a bad idea in the long run.

    Finally, in my school district we refer to “No Child Left Behind” as “No Child Left Untested.” It stinks.

  3. And too, Madeline Will is part of the first generation of parents who worked tirelessly to ensure that special ed programs even exist. I can see how she’d be protective of these achievements, and not want to see them unravel because parents like me are uneducated about this subject! I need to get myself up to speed.

  4. I agree 100%– it is a big issue with us (we live in a red state– nightmare!). When I was working as a special ed teacher, No Child Left Behind was the bane of our existence (and it still is the bane). It makes NO provision for special ed or special needs students. They are expected to perform at the same level as all of the students who have no special needs. It’s unconscionable.

  5. No worries, Jen! This is exactly what I needed…the breakdown of how and why this might not be a good idea. I can especially appreciate the point that if the “results” aren’t achieved, then the money will be withdrawn and I can easily see how it won’t go back into special ed. Too, I hadn’t considered the point that the funds might be removed from the schools entirely. I don’t think we can do enough to support education.

  6. Hi, Jennifer,

    I used to teach special ed in our middle school and write IEP’s and I also have an Aspy son with an IEP (and my youngest son has had IEP’s in the past for speech, and has benefited from Title I reading).

    I think Jodi is spot on here: This bill is trying to take from the poor to feed the poor. You also hit it right on the nose: All education is underfunded. One of the things that is so insidious about this bill (to my way of thinking) is that, even though it proposes to provide interventions earlier (a good thing, right?), I suspect that the underlying reason for it is no good: It all relates to No Child Left Behind, which, by its very nature, is impossible due to the Special Education laws we have. It’s really inconstitutional and insipid.

    Providing interventions earlier is important– I think early interventions with my sons has been immeasurably beneficial to them– but the government MUST introduce NEW funding to support it, rather than taking money away from special education IN THE HOPE AND ASSUMPTION that this will prevent kids from unnecessarily going to special ed.

    My sons needed early interventions and special ed. My Aspy son no longer needs to go to the resource room, but needs other forms of support, like speech therapy, language therapy (yes, they are different), physical therapy, and occupational therapy– his diagnosis has not changed. ONE form of support is no longer needed. And so far, that is true ONLY for one grade.

    My son who needed Title I reading is not reading above his grade level, thanks go early intervention. He didn’t have a diagnosis. I am grateful for the intervention they both received from an early age– but I think they [the bill’s sponsors] are kidding themselves if they think it should be funded by special ed.

    I am also particularly concerned that if these early interventions don’t yield the desired results, then schools will lose funding for these interventions– and that money won’t necessarily go back into the special ed coffers. But it could get moved to… support stupid wars in the middle east. I think it is a veiled attempt to take money from the schools, ultimately.

    Jaded much? Me?

    Sorry for the rant.

  7. I think maybe I should do more research into what the rules are, exactly. I didn’t think of struggling students without disabilites; I thought of struggling students with undiagnosed disabilites. Things that might go under the radar for a while; Asperger’s, PPD-NOS. I’ve been told that parents often have to fight to get their kids included, because no one is listening to them when they say there is a problem.

    I also allow that I am completely naive about all of this. We haven’t even had an IEP, so I am out of my league. I do feel that all education is underfunded; but I worry especially about the kids who don’t fit the norm.

    Thanks for the comment, Jodi. I’ll do more research, I think. I tend to agree with everything Madeline Will supports so this threw me for a loop.

  8. I don’t think Madeline Will is saying not to help struggling students, just not to use funding designated for special education. Budgets are extremely tight. In our state several school districts worked together to sue the state for more special education funding. If the students do not have disabilities, why can’t general ed funding be used?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s