http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/01/13/16mandates.h30.html?tkn=QMRFZ61%2BhJSpGf4vOZICh9kMjwKqnq0RacRk&cmp=clp-edweek

I read this article with great anticipation. Alas, it provided no answers.   It just called for more studies and some handwringing.

In my view, in order to ‘find efficiences’ in special ed, we need to first make special ed work for students. StudentsFirst, to quote Michelle Rhee’s new group.  It should not be designed to work for adults, bureaucrats, lawyers, and others, adding ever more requirements and procedures.  We don’t even know how much is spent in classrooms and how much in hearing and courtrooms, and departments of education. Let’s start there.

An informal study by a special ed director in Massachusetts several years ago found that special education teachers get to spend just 19% of their time actually teaching. The rest of the time is taken up with activities which do NOT improve results.

It makes no sense to ‘save’ money if we don’t first fix this broken system. There are far better ways to focus on educating students with disabilities and we need to work to implement them. Sure, it’s a long road ahead, but we must start.

About Miriam

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA—an expert in public education, focused on special education law— is a lawyer, author, speaker, consultant, and reformer. For more than 35 years, Miriam worked with educators, parents, policy makers, and citizens to translate complex legalese into plain English and focus on good practices for children. Now, she focuses her passion on reforming special education, with her new book, Special Education 2.0—Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law. Presentations include those at the AASA Conference, Orange County (CA), Boston College (MA), CADRE (OR), and the Fordham Institute (DC). Her writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Education Week, Education Next, Hoover Digest, The University of Chicago Law Review on line, DianeRavitch.net, and The Atlantic Monthly on line.

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