Essay: D.E.A. "Tell Me and I'll Forget Show

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D.E.A.

"Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand" Chinese Proverbs, NDI

The purpose of special education is to provide students with disabilities the opportunity to experience the regular school environment as much as possible while providing services to assist them in overcoming their disabilities so that they are able to enjoy a quality education and eventually lead competitive and productive lives as adults. This paper examines the history of special education legislation and current provisions under the Individuals with Disabilities Act.

A Brief Look at the History of Special Education Legislation and Current Provisions

When Congress added Title VI to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 they created a Bureau of Education for the Handicapped. At this time educating students with disabilities was not mandated by law, however the creation of this bureau signaled a change was about to come. In 1972 two Supreme Court decisions, PARC v. Pennsylvania, and Mills v D.C. Board of Education, found that the equal protection argument applied to students with disabilities. Essentially, the court took the position that children with disabilities have an equal right to access education as their nondisabled peers. As a result of these court decisions some students began attending public school. The following year Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was enacted to protect qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability, and in 1974 the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was passed allowing parents access to all personally identifiable information collected, maintained, or used by a school district regarding their child. Then in 1975 the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) was passed into law. This legislation mandated all school districts to educate students with disabilities. Prior to this approximately one million students were denied a public education solely on the basis of their disabilities. Today we know this law as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (Peterson, 2007).

Legislative History

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) was passed into legislation to assure equal educational opportunities for all handicapped children between the ages of five and eighteen, and in most cases for children 3-5 and 18-21 as well. The law forbids the exclusion of children with handicaps from public school because of their disability and requires school districts to provide the special services necessary in order to meet these student's needs. Furthermore, the law states the school will provide a setting and program that resembles as closely as possible the regular schools (Woodward, 2001).

The law recognizes that programs vary according to the individual needs of the special student. Some handicapped children may be placed in a regular classroom, but have special resources available to them while other students may need training at a special school. In addition, the law provides for screening so that children with special needs are recognized and treated accordingly. The law also requires that an Individualized Education Program (IEP) be developed for each special needs student, with input from the student and student's parents. Handicapped students are also entitled to have specially trained teachers to meet their particular needs. The law provides for ongoing monitoring of the handicapped student's program and an appeals process for both the school and the parents of the handicapped child, so that no child is put in or kept out of special education without the consent and agreement of both parents and the school (Woodward, 2001).

This law also defined a specific learning disability as "...a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia" (Code of Federal Regulations, 1999). Children with learning disabilities comprise nearly half of the 6.3 million students in special education programs throughout the country (Schaefer, 2010).

In 1990 the Education of the Handicapped Act Amendments renamed the law the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It reauthorized and expanded the discretionary programs, mandated transition services, defined assistive technology devices and services, and added autism and traumatic brain injury to the list of categories of children and youth eligible for special education and related services.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s the focus of advocates for children with learning disabilities began to shift. More students with learning disabilities were being identified and were receiving special education services, however often these students were not being taught the school's general curriculum. Advocates for these children addressed this issue with the 1997 reauthorization of IDEA when an emphasis on access to the general curriculum was added to the statute. Supporters of this initiative felt that every child, including children with learning disabilities, should be expected to participate in the same curriculum and have the same academic objectives as students in the general population (Schaefer, 2010). Congress also took this opportunity to strengthen the role of parents, give increased attention to racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity in order to prevent inappropriate identification and mislabeling, to ensure schools are safe and conducive to learning, and to encourage parents and educators to work out their differences by using non-adversarial means.

In 2004 IDEA was amended by the Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act (IDEIA). This legislation aligned IDEA with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The law revised the requirements for evaluating children with learning disabilities and added more concrete provisions relating to discipline of special education students (Peterson, 2007).

Current Provisions of IDEA Legislation

Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is created for any pupil who is found to be eligible under the state's eligibility/disability standards. The IEP is created by a team of specialists (including, but not limited to, special education teachers, general education teacher, school psychologists, and parents) that collaborate to set goals for the individual child (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2010).

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

IDEA entitles a child to a placement through one's IEP into the least restrictive environment (LRE) for maintaining free appropriate public education (FAPE). The LRE is the environment most like that of other children in which the child can succeed. This refers not only to the physical location of a child's learning, but also to how the child will be taught. Preferably the child will be included in regular education activities as much as possible. Some disabilities may prohibit this option. The range of student placement in the LRE include full time participation in general education classes utilizing supplementary aids and supports, co-teaching between general education and special education teachers, itinerant specialists serving general classrooms in many schools, pull-out programs making part-time attendance in special education classes available, self-contained special education classes attended most of the day, to placement in special education facilities for children with a particular disability (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2010).

Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

IDEA specifies that students with disabilities have the right to receive appropriate public preschool, elementary and secondary education and related services, meeting state curriculum and standards requirements at no cost to the parents or guardians. Appropriateness is individually defined according to the one's IEP, which delineates specialized individual instruction. Public school districts are responsible for identifying all students with disabilities within their districts, regardless of whether they are attending public schools, since private institutions may not be funded for providing accommodations under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2010).

Discipline

Discipline of a child with a disability must take that disability into account. When a child with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) has been suspended for more than 10 days, within 10 days a manifestation determination must be held to determine if the behavior is a result of the child's disability. If the LEA, the parent, and relevant members of the IEP team make the determination that the conduct was a manifestation of the child's disability, the IEP team shall conduct a functional behavioral assessment and implement a behavioral intervention plan for the child. In the situation where a behavioral intervention plan has previously been developed, the existing plan must be reviewed and modified as necessary, to address the behavior and the child returned to the preexisting placement unless the parent and the LEA agree to a change of placement as part of the modification of the behavior intervention plan (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2010).

A Significant Challenge for Special Education

According to Christy Chambers (2008) feelings of isolation, too little time with students, lack of administrative support, and increasing demands are challenges facing special education teachers and contributing to teacher shortages. As school districts compete for the same special education teachers, administrators must use strategies that give their district an advantage by learning what compels a teacher to work and remain in a district. In a survey of veteran special education teachers working with students, seeing students progress, and feeling… [END OF PREVIEW]

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