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Research Paper SW 3710 December 1, 2012 Brian Meadows Wayne State University

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Education has been around for centuries and is known as a system that transfers knowledge, values, skills, and habits from one generation to another. Education is the key to obtaining a bright and successful future. While there are problems with standardized testing, teaching capabilities and curriculum, one glaring problem that includes all of these facets is the handling of special needs children. Special needs children are those who have medical, emotional and learning problems that require more help and attention in school. Those problems can range from being physically disabled, having dyslexia or having an ailment such as diabetes. School districts across the United States seem to fall behind when it comes to meeting the needs of kids with a wide range of needs. That is unnecessary when every public school receives funds to help the school run smoothly and flourish. More often than one may think, the special needs population in schools is overlooked and ignored. They may not receive a cut of the funds the school receives in order to get the supplies that are critical to a students success. A lack of teachers certified and readily equipped to handle special needs children is another problem. There are some educators who dont know how to deal with students who fall under that category and therefore may not teach them in an effective manner. The difficulties that a special needs child and their parents go through are enough to deal with already without adding in the incompetence of a school district. One may ask, How did it get to this point and what has been done to correct this? Well, the answer is a lot has been done, but it either hasnt improved or only improved a little. In this paper, I hope to highlight some of the history behind special needs children in the educational system, the measures that have been put in place to help the problem, what has worked, and what can be done to improve the system in the future. The battle for the rights of special needs children in schools has been a long and hard fought one, but its one that has seen its share of triumphs over the years.

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Special education has been a hot topic surrounding public schools for years, but that always hasnt been the case. Kids with a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional disabilities had to be home schooled or educated in a private school setting. According to The History of Special Education in the United States, Parents formed advocacy groups to help bring the educational needs of children with disabilities to the public eye. These groups began to advocate on the behalf of special needs children because they felt that kids with disabilities shouldnt be separated or treated differently from kids who dont have disabilities. Its almost on the same level as racial segregation in the United States. Just because individuals are different and come in many shapes, sizes and colors, but were all the same. Eventually, the special education advocacy groups began to make progress in their pursuit of public education for special needs children. On October 11, 1961, President John F. Kennedy began the Presidents Panel on Mental Retardation. The panel consisted of twenty six members who were doctors, lawyers, teachers, and social scientists. The panel also created and conducted six task force groups that were responsible for researching intensive solutions to the problems people with disabilities face on a daily basis. Recommendations suggested by the panel led to federal aid for states and new legislation being created. This new legislation included Public Law 88-164, which authorized funding for developmental research centers in university affiliated facilities and community facilities for people with mental retardation. There were also amendments made to current legislation like the Social Security Act. Amendments to the Social Security Act increased services for maternal and child health, and funded studies in each state on the status of services for people with mental retardation. Reforms like this led to special needs children getting the rights that they deserve and having the freedom that they have today. It also led to people being better educated and informed on the problems that special needs children are facing. This

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possibly led to better understanding and more acceptance among society as a whole. Also according to The History of Special Education in the United States, In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provided funding for primary education, and is seen by advocacy groups as expanding access to public education for children with disabilities. This act was very influential in allowing special needs children to go to public schools and receive a free education. The parents of these children had to feel very accomplished because there child was going to be treated like a normal child and not looked at as abnormal. Unfortunately, these acts and reforms didnt change too much for special needs children in the education field. The enactment of these acts and reforms only saw a small number of special needs children enter public schools. But two acts that were put into law in 1975 aimed to change the landscape further and put more children with disabilities in public schools. These acts were the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). According to The History of Special Education in the United States, The EHA establishes a right to public education for all children regardless of disability, while the IDEA requires schools provide individualized or special education for children with qualifying disabilities. These were the main acts that allowed kids with all kinds of disabilities to be accepted into public schools. No longer could districts deny a student from attending a school based upon a disability. Finally, children with disabilities will receive the resources they need in school in order to be successful. IDEA was the act that carried the most weight and provided the most rights for special needs kids. This act set the foundation that the education a special needs child receives should be tailor made to the child so it meets their needs, no matter what disability they are facing. The curriculum must be beneficial to the child, prepare them for future education and teach them how to work and live independently. IDEA also requires schools

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to take a childs disability into account when practicing discipline. These acts unfortunately dont cover all children with disabilities, but it does allow a large number of disabled students to receive public education. The problem today isnt so much that special needs children arent allowed to receive education, but they do still face difficulties in receiving adequate resources and teaching. The reasons for that fall under lack of funding for special education needs. The lack of funding comes from the Economic Stimulus Plan of 2008, which increased federal funding for education and caused school districts to make cuts to their special education budget. In June of 2011, the Federal Department of Education made it known that if districts decrease their special education budgets for any reason, then they dont have to resume spending at that higher level if they dont want to. That really puts special needs students at a huge disadvantage because that takes away some of the protections that were in place for them. Slashing the special education budget in any school district will limit the amount of students they have, the resources they can administer, and the effectiveness they have with the remaining students in the special education program. According to the article The Single Most Important Issue Facing Special Education Today by Nirvi Shah, In the past, federal law was interpreted to mean that once a district set its special education budget, it could not be reduced permanently except for very specific reasons. The so-called maintenance-of-effort provision was built into special education spending rules to buffer students with disabilities from changes in services triggered by the ups and downs of public spending and politics. Obviously, these rules are being ignored purposefully, but for what reason is unknown. All of the progress that has been made to help improve the level of special education in the United States cant be thrown away overnight for no reason at all. The rules need to be reviewed and forcefully put into action so special needs

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children dont miss out on priceless instruction time that will not only benefit them now in the present, but in the future as well. Over the last several years, the climate of special education has been greatly affected in a negative manner after so much success that began just a little over twenty years ago. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, From school years 198081 through 200405, the number of children and youth ages 321 who received special education services increased, as did their percentage of total public school students. This statistic really highlights how effective IDEA was in allowing children with disabilities to attend public schools and be successful. To see steady increases over a twenty-five year period shows how important special education is not only to the children who need it, but how it helps the school districts as well. The more students a district has, the more state and federal funding it will receive to cover a wide range of areas within the school. This leads to a better school and, hopefully, more productive students and citizens. But, these statistics have seen a hit since the 2004-05 school year. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, The number and percentage of children and youth served under IDEA have declined each year from 200506 through 2009 10. Now, that decline can be attributed to the numerous cuts to the education budget that was discussed earlier. The National Center for Education Statistics also points out that 17 percent of students with intellectual disabilities and 13 percent of students with multiple disabilities spent most of their school day in general classes. Now that seems like a very small number when you take into account that children and youth ages three to twenty-one received special education services under IDEA for specific learning disabilities more than for any other type of disability in school years between 198081 and 200910. Specific learning disabilities are disorders where one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language,

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spoken or written, may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. There has to be a collective thought among society that 13 or 17 percent does not totally represent the special needs population. Now cuts can be one reason for the low numbers, but reluctant parents also play a huge factor in those numbers as well. Parents can begin to lose faith in the system, and that loss can lead to their kids not being in public schools. Whether they feel that their child wont get the instruction they need or the school doesnt perform at a high level, there are many factors that will lead a parent to not sending their child with special needs to public schools. Schools may be falling back to the level they were at before the 1960s concerning special education. If thats the case, then that will be a very sad occurrence. By moving forward in time you are supposed to become more intelligent and wiser, not more ignorant and blind. Innovation should supersede egos when it comes to the future of the youth in this country. The history, good and bad, of the special education system in the United States had a tremendous hand in shaping future policies for children with disabilities. While the past laws and acts were instrumental in developing the foundation for public special education, difficulties and troubles were present. Laws covering any area are subject to hard times and scrutiny. Special education was no different because for a very long time, the subject was seen as taboo. The topic was touchy, but people overcame and did their best to make a bad situation good. One piece of future policy that had a chance of improving the system further was the No Child Left Behind Act. Signed into law by President George W. Bush on January 8, 2002, the act required that all government-run schools receiving federal funding administer a state-wide standardized test annually to all students. This meant that every student take the test under the same conditions to create an even playing field. Schools that receive Title 1 funding through the Elementary and

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Secondary Education Act of 1965 must make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in test scores. There are many who oppose the idea of special education students being included in a schools AYP along with the regular students. Opponents say that there are too many unknown factors involved with special education students and that poor performance from a piece of the population can potentially hurt the school as a whole. The only way that situation will come about is if the schools special education program isnt good at all and they have to worry about funding. On the other hand, if the schools special education program is meeting its objectives, then they have nothing to worry about. NCLB also puts protective measures in place for special education students. It allows students to have alternative options if theyre having trouble in school, instead of just floundering in a poor school system. If schools perform well and show yearly progress in their special education programs, rewards and incentives are in place for the school that can only benefit the school as a whole. The amount of funding each school would receive from its "Local Education Agency" for each year would be divided by the number of children with disabilities and multiplied by the number of students with disabilities participating in school wide programs. This act has had a number of positive effects including decreasing dropout rates, increasing graduation rates, and creating effective plans and strategies that help students make the move to post-secondary education. But of course there are some individuals who find negatives about the act. The main concern that is brought up is that how will schools be successful in creating educational strategies and plans when NCLB focuses on group achievement rather than the individual? According to a report from the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University Bloomington most states were not making AYP because of special education subgroups even though progress had been made toward that end. This was in effect pushing schools to cancel the inclusion model and keep special education students

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separate. The fact that this is even a thought in peoples heads is ridiculous. Once again, if a schools not performing up to par in their special education program, then its the school fault, along with the teachers as well. It seems that people are going back to the mode of thinking that special education students need to be separate from regular students because theyre messing up the system for them. This line of thought is unfortunate in this day and age. These stigmas need to cease to exist, for that is when the education system will improve by leaps and bounds. While special education has been a hot topic in United States for a long time, it has been a huge problem in other parts of the world as well. One continent that has faced much difficulty when it comes to special education is Asia. When one thinks of Asia they think of high educational standards. Asia is a continent that values education and takes it very seriously. For them to have educational problems is shocking to say the least. According to an article titled Challenges in Education in Southeast Asia there are 82.96 million disabled people in China, which accounts for 6.34% of the overall population. That may seem like a small percentage, but thats a very significant amount when you take Asias population into account. Some of the problems that are being faced by the Asians are not enough educational institutions for disabled individuals, not enough teachers for that population, and not enough funding. Funding seems to be a problem no matter where you go, even in one of the most heavily populated and economically rich continents in the world. The low education rates leads to many not being properly educated and not being able to find stable jobs. Asia is a very competitive continent and one needs to be proficiently skilled in an area to be successful. There seems to be a push to make education more available for the disabled in Asia. Advocacy groups have sprung up, along with educational reforms. Asia seems to be going through the same motions that the United States went through in the middle part of the twentieth century. Its unfortunate that Asians are going

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through this and there doesnt seem to be as much push as there should be. As a social worker, we need to care about that welfare of those not only in our country, but abroad as well. Asia can probably look at the United States and realize that a change may take a long time to occur. That change doesnt have to be long at all if people from all over the world advocate on the behalf of disabled Asians and demand that they receive the education they need and deserve. In conclusion, special education has seen its fair share of triumphs and defeats over the years. There has been a lot of unfair activity, but a lot of progress made due to the non-stop efforts of strong willed parents and individuals from around the country. Even in other parts of the world, special education is a massive problem that doesnt seem to be going away anytime soon. Through various acts enacted in the United States that have allowed children with disabilities to be allowed in public schools, receive the resources vital to their success and be treated like every other student, the special needs population needs to be proud. While there is still plenty of work to be done, this has been a good push so far.

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Reference Page ceep.indiana.edu/ http://nces.ed.gov/ Sadiman, Arief S. (2004, November 16.) Challenges in Education in Southeast Asia. http://www.seameo.org/vl/library/dlwelcome/publications/paper/india04.htm Shah, Nirvi. (2012, January 9.) The Single Most Important Issue Facing Special Education Today. Education Week. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2012/01/remember_all_the_concern_from.html The History of Special Education in the United States. Special Education News. http://www.specialednews.com/the-history-of-special-education-in-the-united-states.htm

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