Thank you for giving voice to what many educators and parents sense. Something is not quite right here… We want it to work, but as with many education reforms, good intentions often create unintended consequences and mediocre outcomes.

How should we fix this quandary? As I see it, schools should educate according to best practices–not slogans or notions of rights. The LRE (least restrictive environment) requirement of the special education law is a legal–not pedagogical- one. It’s driven by notions of rights, not results for students. Thus, the quandary. We should revisit that!

At the very least in the next reauthorization, the LRE should be defined as the LRAE–least restrictive appropriate enviroment where this student –and her/his classmates–can learn the most. Good teaching practices should drive placements.

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,, and The Atlantic Monthly on line.

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