As a parent and an educator, I know that accountability is lacking in most schools. Children with disabilities suffer when they don’t have good IEPs, or their IEPs are not implemented, or they don’t have good transition plans that prepare them for life after school.
Unfortunately, the law is available but it’s not implemented to meets the kids’ need. Most IEPs are done for compliance, then filed away, and are never used. When will there be a law that requires meaningful outcomes – like job placement, educational opportunities?
You believe there should be a law that requires schools to provide quality special education services to children, services that are designed to meet the children’s unique needs.
You object to the fact that the law is not enforced, that parents appear to be uninvolved (or not encouraged to be involved), that schools go through the motions in writing IEPs, and that IEPs are not implemented or are implemented sporadically.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act includes many powerful requirements. But when schools and school districts skirt their responsibilities, or deny that they have these responsibilities, it is difficult for individual parents or teachers to change the situation.
I agree with you.
In 2000, the National Council for Disability (NCD) published “Back to School on Civil Rights,” a report about compliance with the IDEA.
NCD found that no state was in compliance with the law, and that the U.S. Department of Education did not require states to comply with the law. USDOE kept sending checks to states, regardless of whether the state was in compliance with the law.
NCD also found that parents were the main enforcers of the law, and recommended that enforcement be given to the U.S. Department of Justice.
I agree that the IDEA is a good law that is not enforced.
You find good laws that are not enforced at every level of government, from speeding citations to companies that break environmental laws. What turns things around is getting a group of people together, people who see the problems and are willing to work to change the system.
Here is a short summary of NCD’s findings.
“Overall, the National Council on Disability (NCD) finds that the referral efforts to enforce the law over several Administrations have been inconsistent, ineffective, and lacking any real teeth.”
The report released … before Congressional Leaders, Congressional staff, National Leaders, Advocates and Students confirms what parents across our nation already know first hand.
For example, parents of a 10 year old from the state of Maryland were told that “IDEA didn’t apply to this child.” Here is a young child who had suffered multiple strokes. She uses an electric wheelchair, assistive technology to communicate; needs assistance to get her through her day at school and IDEA does not apply? Yet, her parents have to fight to get the supports their daughter needed to become a productive citizen as she works towards her educational goals.
The full text of Back to School on Civil Rights in on the Wrightslaw site, here:
I don’t think the solution to these problems is to get rid of the law, or pretend that it does not contain specific requirements.
I think the solution is to get a small, dedicated group of parents (consumers) together to educate and lobby their school board members, state legislators, and members of Congress.
This is how you begin to change systems so they meet the needs of people they are supposed to serve.