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The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
January 7, 2002


In this Issue

How Shannon Carter Changed Special Ed




How Shannon Carter Changed Special Ed

Are you the parent of a child with a disability? Are you the parent of a child who is not being taught to read? Are you battling with your child's school about appropriate special education services for your child?

Are you a teacher of children with disabilities? Are you a special ed teacher who does not have the professional support you need to do your job? Are you a student teacher who is not getting the training you need?

Are you an attorney or advocate who represents a child with a disability?

Are you a professor of special education who wants to improve education programs for teachers? Are you an administrator who needs to educate your school board about special education costs?

Are you a legislator who wants to improve special education outcomes? Are you a special Ed consumer or provider who is concerned about the reauthorization of the special Ed law?

Download NY Times Article About Shannon Carter & Special Ed

If you want to educate others about special education issues, download this powerful article by Brent Staples of The New York Times. In "How Clip 'N Snip's Owner Changed Special Education," Mr. Staples tackles many problems that plague special education -- including the failure to use scientifically proven methods to teach children to read.


IMPORTANT! Before you can download articles from The New York Times site, you must register and get a password!

We are making this article and supporting info available on the Wrightslaw site (link follows). However -- you should get the original New York Times article -- the NY Times has far more persuasive clout than Wrightslaw!

Quotes From Article By Brent Staples

"The people of Florence, SC know Shannon Carter as the owner of Shannon's Clip 'N Snip, a barber shop where the locals get haircuts and conversation . . ."

"Shannon's public school teachers are no doubt surprised to see her running a business and working out a financial plan. During the 1980's she finished ninth grade failing virtually every subject, and was nearly illiterate."

"The schools told Emory and Elaine Carter that their daughter was terminally lazy and would 'never see a day of college'. In truth, Shannon was suffering from a common but undiagnosed learning disability that made it difficult for her to comprehend the little that she could read. Alienated and depressed, Shannon became suicidal."

"Ask about Shannon Carter in New York or Los Angeles, and you see school board lawyers snarling or hanging their heads in dismay . . . But as Congress prepares to reauthorize the federal special education program, it should bear in mind that the Carters went to court only after the public schools failed at their most basic mission: teaching Shannon to read."

"The task of teaching reading is undermined by the common but mistaken belief that children are somehow neurologically "wired" to read. This view led to the "whole language" fad of the 1970's . . . data from four decades of studies by the National Institutes of Health show that it is disastrous for the 4 in 10 children who have trouble learning to read. Nearly half these youngsters fall behind in the early grades, never catch up and eventually drop out."

"The fortunate children are diagnosed early and assigned to smaller classes where teachers take special care to teach them the fundamentals of written language that others take for granted. The children are walked through the alphabet again and again, learning to connect the letters to the sounds, the sounds to the syllables, the syllables to words and so on."

"The good news from the N.I.H. findings is that 95 percent of learning-impaired children can become effective readers if taught by scientifically proven methods. The bad news is that less than a quarter of American teachers know how to teach reading to children who do not get it automatically. At the moment, nearly half of all children placed in special education are there for reading difficulties. Federal scientists commonly describe them as 'casualties of bad instruction'."

"Congress has focused almost solely on the fact that special education is expensive - and that it takes away money from regular education. The debate will go nowhere until lawmakers begin to view special and regular education as part of a single system that is being hampered by an all too pervasive problem - that schools are teaching reading in a way that fails to effectively reach millions of children."

"The basic lesson of the Carter case and the tens of thousands that have followed is that the country needs a national reading campaign, based on science. The longer we delay, the more families like Shannon Carter's will bolt the system, taking public dollars with them."

Read full Text of NY Times Article By Brent Staples


Links to NY Times Article, Shannon's Cases, Research, Photos

To read the New York Times article by Brent Staples, decisions and articles about Shannon Carter's case, info about reading research, and to download Free Pubs about reading and special education, please go to --


To learn about Shannon's case, download the decisions, and read Pete's analyses of the case, go to:


Photo of Shannon being interviewed outside U. S. Supreme Court:


Photo of Pete being interviewed after oral argument before U. S. Supreme Court:


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Citation Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
ISSN:Pending from LOC
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043
Website: https://www.wrightslaw.com