Wednesday, January 18, 2017

DeVos and Special Education

In Canada, all the ministers are experts on the fields they are in charge of. The Education Minister has teaching experience and the Minister of Immigration is an immigrant. In the US we seem to adopt the opposite policy where people are put in charge of thing sabot which they know very little.

This is wonderfully illustrated this week were Betsy DeVos, the president elect's pick for Education Secretary apparently has no idea what IDEA is. IDEA is the remarkably successful federal act that was adopted many yeaers ago to provide students with special needs access to a regular education. As a parent of a son with Down Syndrome i can attest to the success of this program. Now 24, he has many neuro-typical friends, has a wonderful social life, attends college and works several jobs. Without IDEA he would have gone to a special school like such students do ini Singapore, Russia, and many other countries where his disability would have been stigmatized and he never would have become a productive, integrated member of society.

When asked about IDEA in the confirmation hearing DeVos said it should be up to individual States whether to include children with special needs in public schools. Clearly she is totally unaware of the requirements of the public law.  This is the same as the Secretary for Foreign affairs not knowing where Russia and China are.

Devos, a billionaire,  has clearly never set foot in a public school and has no idea what special education is all about. Private schools, where her children attended,  are not required to provide special education services in most States and so her goal or privatizing education is going to have a profound effect upon the education of these most vulnerable members of society.

On a personal ;level, I am so glad that my son is no longer in public schools and that I am retired but my heart goes out to all those parents with children with special needs worried about what is going to happen. Heaven forbid we return to the pre-1975 special school situation,  

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