Such specialization runs counter to a federal and state push over the last decade to give children with learning disabilities equal access to a mainstream public education.
To comply with federal law, schools “offer special education courses but place autistic children in traditional classrooms as frequently as possible.” But some parents think mainstreaming doesn’t benefit their children.
Education News interviews Miriam Freedman, author of Fixing Special Education. Among her 12 steps for improving the system is ending the reliance on a medical model for labeling students with learning problems.
A child may be labeled with a specific learning disability (SLD) in one school district, emotionally disturbed in another, or simply as an ‘at risk’ student in the third. In the first town he gets a panoply of individualized special services, in the second, a panoply of totally different services, and in the third–none. This, in spite of the fact that we know that diagnoses are not exact, and far too often, are based on attributes unrelated to the child, such as socio-economic realities, savvy parents, or zip codes.
Freedman also talks about reducing paperwork and litigation so teachers can focus on teaching.