Friday, January 2, 2009

Transition Hits a Nerve

My post earlier this week on transition issues really hit a nerve.

We received a few comments and a slew of emails on the topic. Most were from parents or their representatives. Although there was one example of a very good transition program, it was run by volunteers and maybe a non-profit. The sentiment of parents and their advocates was not very happy, and the intensity of the sentiment seemed very strong.

I have heard schools argue that they are not all purpose social service agencies. Their mission is education at the k-12 level, they contend, and they shouldn't be saddled with these other responsibilities. The problem with that argument is that it is too late. Schools already serve many public policy functions for kids beyond education. Schools have long served a health mission for their students. Immunization is a public health initiative and it is enforced by making it compulsory for school kids. Hunger among American children would be an epidemic but for the school lunch (and breakfast) programs. Schools have long served many non-educational functions.

There is a legitimate policy argument concerning whether we as a society want to add more duties to the school as super social service agency. Transition for special ed students may well be at the heart of this argument. This is one topic where both school districts and parents hit their congressional representatives hard. The intense pressure on the Congress probably explains more, for example, about the change in the statutory definition of transition from an "outcome" oriented process to a "results" oriented process than any legitimate public policy reason. I predict more changes in transition when the IDEA is reauthorized again, possibly even some that make sense.

In the meantime, please continue to share your thoughts on what is happening with transition. This seems to be a very important issue. What are schools doing well? What are schools doing poorly? What would help schools to do a better job? I appreciate your comments and I value your experience.

No comments:

Post a Comment