Ways to Improve American Special Education

Special education would dramatically improve if school districts treated students and their parents as full partners verses adversaries in developing and implementing Individual Education Plans (IEP’s ). It has been my experience as a parent with son with special needs, that school personnel are far more concerned about budgets than the needs students and usually only meet those needs when the parents protest loudly and long enough or bring legal action. The reason this occurs is schools have a distinct advantage over individual families since they have far more resources at their disposal to drag out the process and wear the parents down. Schools also have the ability stonewall and keep parents effectively in the dark if they determine it’s in their best interest to do so. In order to balance the scales of power, I feel the federal government should change the laws to allow families of special needs students to form organizations that have the power create collective bargaining agreements with school districts in terms of special education services. Furthermore, the organization would have the ability monitor and fine schools for breaching the agreements. This would mean that every family could have a representative of their organization if they desired at every IEP meeting to make sure school’s were indeed focusing on how the meet the needs of the student verses protecting their budgets. The parent organization would be the first place to initiate any grievances against the school. In addition , the school could initiative grievances against parents who may harass school personnel without reason. Finally, the parent organization should be empowered to conduct audits of IEP’s as well as observing classrooms to make sure schools are meeting the needs of its most vulnerable students. For example, the organization would be allowed to make two unannounced visits to each school per year to observe the services the special needs students are receiving . More visits would occur for schools that had a history of non compliance. Schools that did an outstanding job would be recognized and those who failed in their duty would be fined and reported to the appropriate state agency for non compliance . Hopefully, this type of organization can come into being in the near future as it’s the only way I can see to pressure and hold the educational bureaucracy accountable to take every family’s need to heart and not just those who are politically connected or willing and able to bring legal pressure upon schools to comply with the current laws.