Thursday, March 18, 2010

How Does Obama's Blueprint for NCLB Affect Kids with Disabilities?

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...Image via Wikipedia

The Obama Administration has released its blueprint for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known as No Child left Behind. It is important to remember that this is just the start. Congress gets to beat the proposal like a pinata and then the President must sign it before it becomes law. Here is a Washington Post article on the President's education plan. This link will give you the entire 45 page blueprint if you'd like to read it yourself.

The proposal has a number of provisions that directly affect students with disabilities. The blueprint calls for more inclusion, that is a goal of educating as many children with disabilities in the general ed classroom as possible. The plan also calls for more accurate tests for special ed kids. Here is a summary of the blueprint by the Disability Scoop blog.

The influential Council for Exceptional Children has praised the inclusion aspects of the plan, but they criticize the lack of details. Here is their position.

So what do you think of the blueprint? I know we still have a way to go, but be ready to contact your congressional reps after you contemplate which tweaks we should make to NCLB.

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  1. I am deeply suspicious of policy proposals that focus on "inclusion" rather than on quality services directly tied to students' individual needs. The civil rights view of special education, i.e., the notion that the lives of students with disabilities are enhanced by proximity to students without identified disabilities, undermines the most fundamental principle of IDEA--individualization. It assumes that children with disabilities will suddenly begin to learn effectively in the environment in which they have already struggled and in which teachers do not use methods demonstrated to be effective.

  2. Thank you Mary Anne.

    I appreciate your comment.


  3. Mary Anne's point is well taken. Inclusion for the sake of inclusion is a PC ideal, but meaningful inclusion depends on the attitude of the teacher and students (who adopt the attitude of the teacher). It also depends on adequate teacher training and support. Done well, inclusion is beautiful. All kids can thrive educationally and socially, and kids without disabilities can learn valuable life lessons, including the notion that disability is a normal part of the fabric of society. Someday, if we live long enough, nearly all of us will become disabled through accident or ill health. If society has taught its children well (that is, by example), we all stand to benefit.

    The standard classroom should not be idolized. It doesn't work well for a lot of kids, even those without disabilities. For a child with a disability, a standard classroom may be the LRE or the MTE (most toxic environment). Inclusion belongs on the continuum of placements for an IEP team to consider.

  4. Daunna,

    Thanks for your comment.


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