Time to rethink special education

One school attorney’s plea:

Teachers may tell you (privately) that inclusion [of special education kids in regular classroom, as mandated by federal law] often leads them to slow down and simplify classroom teaching. Yet the system is entrenched and politically correct. Many parents remain silent. Some quietly remove their kids from public schools.

Can this be anything but very bad for America?

[Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, WSJ via Common Good]


  • Reading through the comments on the original WSJ Op-Ed, I got the impression that some school districts managed “mainstreaming” sensibly, putting the slow kids only in classes where slowness did little harm. Other districts, however, did not try to preserve a learning environment from disruptive kids, and parents who complained would be met with a blizzard of political correctness. Private school or moving were the only reasonable alternatives, for those who could afford them.

  • One of the advantages of the growth of special ed was the opportunity for bad-kid dumping. If you had a pupil whose conduct was inocorrigable and whose mother regarded that as your problem, you could arrange to transfer him from your regular ed class to special ed. There was an 80% chance you would never have to deal with him again. Mainstreaming, though, abolishes that solution. You can no longer dump the bad kid on Special Ed, they send him right back.

  • I might observe that my daughter, in Advanced Placement classes at her high school, shared those “Advanced” classes with students (approximately 40% of the class) who were simultaneously recieving remedial instruction in those same subjects because those students weren’t performing on grade level.

    It is a curious thing where “Advanced” equates to “below grade level” for 40% of the class. Needless to say, their performance was holding my daughter back, so we voted with our feet and placed her into college two years early. Few parents have that option.

    For myself, I worry that this is soon to be our new electorate – citizens who barely read, struggle to add, and have abandonded critical thinking and factual debate in favor of soundbites and platitudes for attendance. I hope that my predecessors had similar concerns for my generation, and that it didn’t turn out quite so badly as they feared.

  • Should Special Ed Kids Be Mainstreamed?

    Miriam Kurtzig Freedman looks at the impact upon non-disabled kids when special ed kids are mainstreamed into regular classrooms…

  • My brother-in-law taught social studies and related courses in a suburban Long Island middle school.
    One year, two special ed kids were placed in his class, one of whom would rock back and forth , the other would call out (or scream, depending on his mood) from time to time. When the teacher shushed the screamer, the way he would any other student, he was rebuked by the administration, and told that he had to establish a “secret signal” with the student to indicate that he should stop screaming. The signal would not be understandable by the other members of the class.This was so that the student would not be embarrassed, or feel singled out, by the teacher’s directive.
    My brother-in-law, a fine, highly motivated teacher, took early retirement at the first opportunity.