Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is now officially 35 years old. A Special Ed Lawyer Jennifer Lavaino has a blog and asked the following question….
"Does anyone believe for one minute that school districts would get away with telling parents of children who do not have disabilities that they are striving for average? How many “blue ribbon” school boards would have the audacity to publicly say to parents of the students who do not have IEPs: “we only have to provide adequate”?"
So my first thought is maybe we have been asking for the wrong thing. The law does not does not define what the “appropriate” means in the entitlement to FAPE, but I am pretty sure that many other laws have challenged similar issues. The first that comes to mind is Brown versus the Board of Education.
“Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954),] was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which allowed state-sponsored segregation. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court's unanimous (9–0) decision stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." As a result, de jure racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This ruling paved the way for integration and the civil rights movement”
Would this not lead us to argue that if your home school is a blue ribbon school then "appropriate" services for a child on an Individual Education Plan (IEP) would have to be comparable to blue ribbon special education services and NOT to the argument of ADEQUATE?
From the Indiana Department of Education web site the description of a “NCLB - Blue Ribbon School Program”:
“The No Child Left Behind—Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private K-12 schools that are either academically superior in their states or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement. On July 28, 2002, the US Secretary of Education announced that schools singled out for national honors will now reflect the goals of our nation's new education reforms for high standards and accountability. “
I think most people think when the parent of a child with a disability wants the “best” education that we want something different than every mainstream parent wants. I would argue that we want the same thing you want. We want to see measurable “gains in student achievement” and we would like to see “standards and accountability”. In mainstream education, parents expect “dramatic gains in student achievement” and “goals of our nation's new education reforms for high standards and accountability”. As parent of a child with a disability, why should I not expect something comparable? I live in reality; I know my child’s abilities, but it is unfair to limit my child to an “appropriate” education without some kind of way to evaluate “appropriate”. Bottom line most parents of a disable child would be happy with having a fair and accurate standard of measurable “gains in student achievement” if there was actually a measurable way to show “gains in student achievement”. Showing measurable “gain in student achievement” should not just be measured in the classroom; it should be measured in the real world. If you cannot maintain that achievement and repeat it out side of the classroom in a real world scenario, then it is not really achieved.
Maybe I have unrealistic expectation, but my goal for Austin Joseph Primer, who has Autism, is the same as for my other three children: Ashley Lynn Primer age 21, Nick Primer age 18 and Emily Diana Primer age 10. I would like Austin to not have to be dependent on the government, his parents, or his siblings as an adult for his day to day welfare. The reality of life is anyone of my children might not meet that standard. Reality dictates that anyone of my children may succombe to the harsh realities of alcohol, drugs or any number of disabling aliments; which would put them at the mercy of the state. However, although they are not there currently, there brother Austin is.
Therefore I am asking for every family like ours in our society to meet the challenges for those (like Austin) who are at that level of need currently. Schools are the vehicle for social equality. Even the disabled must have access to the level playing field. Our public school system is “the level playing field”. Every American is guaranteened the right to “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. The parents of the “disabled” are merely asking for the access to the road to “the pursuit of happiness” for our children.
Hopefully Jennifer Lavaino’s dream of, “Here’s to hoping that 35 years from now, the dream of IDEA will met.” will come true.
I am here to tell you it can come true. We just need to make sure enough people, who do not have a child like ours, feel as passionately as we do help us.
So until next time PITAup, change the life of a child with Autism. The life you change just might just be your own!!!
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