When I asked a group of parents what their biggest frustration with the IEP process was, one parent wrote that she felt that her child’s IEP was a way for the school district to not hold her child accountable for his behavior and academic growth. She felt that it was basically an easy out for the school district to not have to work hard to figure out how to help her child succeed since he has a disability. I think the idea of special education accountability is an interesting perspective worth exploring.
The basic tenants of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are in direct contrast to her statement, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean her statement is untrue. The basis of the law was to give children with disabilities a fair chance in being educated. After qualification for special education services through being identified as a child with a disability, the regulations in IDEA aim to remediate academic and behavioral issues related to having a disability and to provide appropriate, research-based interventions to teach children with special needs in a way that will, hopefully, foster the most success.
I do not know exactly why the parent who wrote me felt as she did but I have some thoughts on different issues that relate to the issue she raised.
If IEP’s are not written collaboratively between educators and parents and goals and objectives as well as accommodations and modifications are cookie cuttered from a prewritten list, the IEP very well could be used to make life easier for school personnel. This is one of the reasons why parents must be involved in creating their child’s IEP. Although I would hope that most special educators would create appropriate, individualized IEPs, I know this is not always the case. Do not rely solely on the school district to create your child’s IEP. If there are items in the IEP, which you disagree with or feel will decrease your child’s accountability, share your rationale for your thoughts and tell them you want it removed or modified.
Prior to 1975 and the first version of what is now called IDEA most children with disabilities were sent away to residential homes to live so children with disabilities were not a part of the public education system. Some people believe it was better that way. Nowadays that would be considered discrimination. A core tenant of IDEA is that children with special needs should be educated in the least restive environment (LRE). This means they should be integrated with their non-disabled peers as much as possible based on the nature of their disability and their educational needs.
Some people believe that allowing children with disabilities to be educated in the public school has negatively affected the quality of education of children who do not have disabilities. In my opinion, this is not true because the types of educational strategies and the ability to differentiate instruction to meet the individual needs of children benefits all children, not just children with special needs. Good teaching is good teaching!
Some people believe that children who qualify under certain disability categories are not really “disabled”. This is often associated with children who qualify with emotional and behavior disabilities under the categories of Other Health Impaired for ADHD or Emotional Disturbance. Some people believe that children who have disorders in this arena are due to bad parenting, poverty and/or societal influences and therefore should not qualify for services like children who have more obvious disabilities such as an intellectual disability, a hearing disability or a vision disability. I do not believe this to be true and apparently the legislators creating and revising the law did not believe it to be true either.
Some children with IEPs get many accommodations and modification to “level the playing field “ and more easily access their educational program. Some people view accommodations and modifications as crutches rather than necessary education tools. I believe that these tools are essential to children with special needs getting a meaningful education. It helps them to learn new skills and information that they might not otherwise be able to learn.
What do you think about this topic? Please share your thoughts and questions by hitting the reply button below this post.