It’s available at <>Review of Fixing Special Education

By Emmy Partin
Fixing Special Education: 12 Steps to Transform a Broken System
Miriam Kutzig Freedman
School Law Pro and Park Place Publications

This little flipbook takes a critical look at special education in America and offers twelve suggestions to improve it. The author argues forcefully that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is no longer adequate (though it has played an important role heretofore) and that special ed itself needs an overhaul. She contends that IDEA has become too inclusive, now covering many children for whom it wasn’t meant and who don’t necessarily need special education. (Just 30 percent of kids currently covered by IDEA are estimated to have severe disabilities.) Moreover, today’s special ed regime serves to hold capable kids to lower standards, costs a lot of money, and encourages schools to give extra attention only to kids with diagnosed disabilities, which can mean less attention for others. Besides all that, the bureaucracy that has sprung up around IDEA has become overwhelming, as has the litigation, which further serves to pit parents against schools. Powerful stuff, and available for purchase here, at

Mass Lawyers Weekly recently ran a frontpage article about the rise in special education litigation. So sad. It’s tagline was, “With school resources dwindling, special education disputes attract lawyers.” Can it get any worse? So, let me understand what is going on in our schools: there’s less money for teaching and learning and we need to spend more on lawyers and litigation. How sad is that–such a wrong approach. Rather than working cooperatively among teachers, parents, and students, we have a stream of new lawyers ready to sue schools. Check it out!

I am quoted in the article,

“There isn’t even data about how much special education litigation costs the schools, says Miriam Freedman at Stoneman, Chandler & Miller in Boston, a former BSEA hearing officer who now represents schools and is the author of a recently published book on the subject, “Fixing Special Education.”

“Most cases settle,” Freedman says. “Well, how much is that costing? No one is keeping tabs on that.”

But event without precise numbers, she adds, it is clear that there has been an increase in special education litigation–and that is a problem.

“All of this litigation is bad for schools, bad for kids, bad for education, and even bad for parents,” she says.

It’s amazing… my book, Fixing Special Education–12 Steps to Transform a Broken System is out…. It is available at Lots of interest and sales so far. People are looking to fix the system–at least that is what I’m sensing. We need to reduce litigation, reduce the climate of fear of litigation, reduce paperwork and bureaucratic burdens, and why? To increase student learning, teacher time on task, parent and school cooperation. And why? To improve results for all students. It’s all pretty basic and rather clear.

Not so quick, apparently. See the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly front-page story on November 23, 2009.
It is headlined “Cases with Special Needs,” and discusses the rise in special education litigation, the fact that big corporate lawfirms are getting into the act and making the lawsuits far more complex and costly. Can that be because their own business litigation is suffering in this economy?

How sad it all is. The story’s tagline is “With school resources dwindling, special education disputes attract lawyers.” Less money for kids and more for lawyers. Wow. That is so the wrong approach. It is not the way to achieve school reform–improved teaching and learning for all students.