Good IDEAs

Writing on Gadfly, Sara Mead of the Progressive Policy Institute explains the improvements in the new Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which passed with bipartisan support.

IDEA serves “a rising share of students with an expanding list of ever-less-severe disabilities,” she writes.

Due process protections have fostered adversarial relations between parents and educators and endless litigation. Combined pressures of paperwork, lawsuits, and high-cost placements build a spirit of resentment about the law in many places. While many children clearly benefit from IDEA, many others are ill-served, with negative results for both general and special education.

Among the reforms are provisions to use some money to help students before they fall so behind they’re labeled “learning disabled.” The law also lets state define learning disabilities, instead of assuming that any child who’s fallen behind must be disabled. State will be required to set goals for improving achievement of disabled students. The law tries to reduce paperwork and encourage mediation rather than litigation. Administrators would have “more leeway to remove disruptive youngsters from the classroom while continuing to provide services to them.” While the funding isn’t as good as it should be, Mead writes, “the bill requires states to set aside a percentage of IDEA funds to serve students with exceptionally costly disabilities, freeing local school districts from the burden of absorbing these rare but burdensome costs.”

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  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Administrators would have “more leeway to remove disruptive youngsters from the classroom while continuing to provide services to them.”

    I have died and gone to Heaven!

  2. Tim from Texas says:

    Removing problems and problem students and bad teachers for that matter is exactly what administrators don’t want. That would eliminate the need for so many administrators. Teachers who can’t handle classroom situations and coaches who can’t coach go back to college and get admin. degrees and the like and become ads. The colleges and universities like it that way also. The status quo in our schools works just fine for them. It makes them money and gives them positions for professors who shouldn’t be professors.

    In my opinion, no one really wants the schools to change much less improve because too much money is made from having bad schools.

  3. The current issue of Annals of Dyslexia (not available online, sadly, I hope that changes soon) has a long article by Jack Fletcher on what the changes mean for dyslexic kids. Cut to the chase: good, because there’s no mandated need to wait for the kid to fall 2+ years behind before remediation.

    This is all good because most dyslexic kids can learn to read at grade level, if not above (who knows bright kids who read at grade level?) if remediated early.

    It might also mean that whole language will finally be defeated at the teachers-college level.