Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Guest Post - The Importance of Awareness and Advocacy in Special Education

The Texas Tribune very recently reported on a trend in Texas public schools--special education students are twice as likely to be suspended from school as their general education student counterparts. The article gives a personal account of one young kindergartner afflicted with brain damage who had been sent home by the school district five different times in one school year.

A Texas Education Agency study found that expulsions were also inordinately higher for special education students as compared to the general student population. While special ed students make up ten percent of the overall student population in public schools in Texas, they account for twenty one percent of expulsions. In terms of suspensions, out of every 100 special education students, there were over 50 in-school suspensions and 25 out of school suspensions. With regular students the numbers were significantly less--only 33.2 in school suspensions and 12.1 out of school suspensions for every 100.

This imbalance in disciplinary action between special and non special education students demonstrates the difficulties of teaching students who are afflicted with disabilities. It also demonstrates a need for teachers who are prepared to handle these special circumstances.

However, not all is doom and gloom, as the TEA noted that these statistics have improved over the years. What's more, several Texas public schools have adopted what's called "positive behavior supports", which employs behavioral approaches that are couched in positive affirmation. One school district which had received a grant for using this net of behavioral approaches experienced an almost 60 percent drop in disciplinary referrals.

Both parents and teachers who are involved in special education in some way must continue to advocate for change. The importance of awareness and advocacy of special education was recently demonstrated in an intensive seminar held by Behavioral Outreach Services, which would teach parents all the intricacies of special education laws and practices. Seminars such as these could be the start of greater awareness and could further fuel continued improvements in special ed.

Special education is no easy task, and leveraging the power of the Internet in order to become informed about laws regarding special education students, as well as current proposed policies, are instrumental in achieving any sort of change in which the interests of the special ed child comes first.

WrightsLaw is one such Net resource that helps keep teacher and parent advocates up to date on laws and policies.

This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who writes on the topics of online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id:

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