NPR has picked up the story of the special needs student that was harassed by staff at his school. The theme is exactly what I discussed in the post, Another Reason to Homeschool Kids with Special Needs. Special education programs are horrendously underfunded and staff are not receiving proper training. The guest makes a good point about part of the issue. Many children with various disabilities were once handled by the health system and not the public school system. There are many learning disorders and the numbers of autistic spectrum disorders are on the rise. Even if you had a ton of money to throw at the problem, like the guest states, there are no qualified people to hire!
The second guest comes on, Thomas Hehir a government bureaucrat, and we get to hear the ENORMOUS DISCONNECT between what happens in theory and what happens in reality. He states that teachers want kids with special needs in their classes, but then we hear the poor first year teacher that calls in. I have seen it before in my school system, the rookie gets the classes that nobody else wants! It is completely counter-intuitive and the guest correctly points it out. The most experienced teachers should be teaching these students not a first year teacher. The teacher also admits she received absolutely no training in how to effectively manage these students, it is a lawsuit waiting to happen. The first year teacher needs to provide the specific accommodations found within over 70 Individual Education Plans (IEPs) (usually dozens of pages long each) or else she is breaking the law! Also, “mainstreaming” is discussed as if it is one or two students in a “normal class”, but the schools I have seen have “co-taught” classes, where more than half the class of 30 – 40 students has a special needs issue. You may notice most of the success stories being called in are people that took the reigns of their child’s education whether it is demanding more form the school, seeking private solutions, or as far as suing districts to pay for proper accommodations. The bottom line is that you have to be an advocate for your special needs child even if you decide to educate them in your home.