When most people think of the education system, they see a system that strives for excellence through standardized lesson plans that seem to have a one-size-fits-all regimen. While this might work for a majority of students, these types of lesson plans aren't always the best fit for students with disabilities. Lesson plans that don't tailor to their specific needs can cause the child's education to suffer, which can greatly handicap them down the road.
Did you know that in 1975, Congress promised to give schools in the nation additional funds so that accommodations could be made for students with special education needs? The additional funds were supposed to account for 40 percent of the "excess" cost of these accommodations, providing schools with the resources they need to provide special needs students with the education they deserve. Unfortunately, "the federal government has never paid more than 20 percent," explains a Feb. 19 article in Ed Source, leaving school districts and the state to foot most of the bill for education.
Imagine that you are a special education teacher working for a school district here California. An autistic student approaches you one day, visibly upset. They ask for a hug. Knowing that many autistic children respond better to touch than words, you oblige and give the student a hug.
Our children, no matter if they have a disability or not, deserve to have access to the best education possible. It's a belief we not only hold to be true but it's something all of our Santa Cruz readers hold in their hearts as well. But it's when we hear stories like the one below that we start to question if this is a belief the state holds true above all else as well.
Frequent readers of our blog are no strangers to the fact that if public schools want to continue receiving federal funding and avoid civil litigation, they will want to adhere to all state and federal laws, especially those regarding students with special needs. Here in California, as well as all states in the country, one such law is the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Most parents here in California have only a vague understanding about the laws that govern the schools within our state. It's because of this vague understanding that can leave parents at a disadvantage when it comes to recognizing when a violation of the law or their child's rights has occurred. It can also make dealing with potential legal issues a problem as well.
An elementary school in Carlsbad is under scrutiny from the surrounding community this month because of accusations that the school violated the First Amendment rights of a special needs student who simply wanted to read the Bible during his reading time in class.
When you think of the legal system, or a court of law, or a lawsuit, or really anything that deals with the terms "legal," your first thought probably isn't about schools and students. The two concepts simply don't mix, at least in the minds of many people. This could be due to the fact that we think of school and students as innocent and happy. That's the way they are supposed to be.
Schools here in California are required by law to provide students with special needs with access to a proper education. Failing to do so can result in litigation that may provide a student and their family with compensation if the school is found to have broken the law. Some people know this because they are frequent readers of our blog while others are aware of this fact because of stories they see in the news.
Whether students across the United States realize it or not, they are afforded a number of protections including the right to equal education. Any school that receives federal funding, including some schools that do not, must adhere to federal and state education laws that provide every student with the education they deserve.