I read Philip Howard’s thoughtful piece in The Atlantic. Right on! And what a perfect title.

I was not surprised (and glad) to see his opening salvo was about special education–quoting facts and figures also found in my book, Fixing Special Education and my other writings. Special education is indeed an amazing example of a well-intended system that has spun out of control.


Mr. Howard (Philip, if I may) writes that, rather than ‘deregulation,’ we need a spring cleaning. Throw out what’s not working. We can’t just keep piling on new laws and new great ideas. Deregulation won’t get at it–as we need to start with purpose and reboot for the 21st century.

As you’ll see in my upcoming law review piece about fixing special education, I suggest that we should even consider the idea of ending the entitlement program. It succeeded in its mission–providing access for schooling to all students with disabilities. But thereafter, as it’s an open ended law, it morphed into all sorts of unintended consequences.

As Philip writes–we need to keep the purpose (education for all), but substitute a targeted sensible program for the 21st century (not retrofit this old 20th century law). Appointing a commission to do so is a good idea–also discussed in my upcoming piece.

It looks like many stars are getting aligned… Many of us know that the law is broken and needs to be fixed.

And please stay tuned for that article. I’ll provide the link when it’s out.

Thank you, Philip, for pushing all of us and keeping the ball going on these important issues. So glad you’ll have a running series at The Atlantic.com!

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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