Special Education Column
The Council for Exceptional Children is urging schools and health agencies to collaborate in serving the growing population of special-education pupils who are "medically fragile.''
Medically fragile students are those who need specialized health care in order to attend school. Currently estimated at 100,000, this population has grown in recent years as advances in medical technology allow many ill and disabled children to live longer and do more.
Kathy Zantal-Weiner, a CEC policy researcher, says that "it's come to a point where the questions are: Who is going to serve them? Who is going to foot the bill? Who is going to provide services beyond the school realm?''
Because no clear federal guidelines exist, policies on the issue vary widely, Ms. Zantal-Weiner says. She notes that many such students "fall in the lap'' of special education--whether they need it or not.
The CEC's new policy, approved during the organization's national convention last month, provides some guidelines for school and health-agency collaboration on the problem. It is available from the CEC's Publications Department, 1920 Association Drive, Reston, Va. 22091. The cost is $6 for non-members and $5.10 for members.
Beginning next year, a stint in the Peace Corps will become a part of the curriculum for some students working toward graduate degrees in special education at the University of South Carolina.
The program is the first of its kind to target students of special education as Peace Corps recruits.
"Special education is a field in which we're getting increasing numbers of requests from the countries in which we work,'' said Lewis Greenstein, the federal agency's liaison to educational institutions.
Under the South Carolina program, students will spend their first year at the university's campus and then join the Peace Corps to teach handicapped children in developing countries for two years. They will receive three internship credit hours for their service.
Parents may be a key to helping handicapped students make the difficult transition from school to work, according to a new digest published by one of the U.S. Education Department's Educational Resources Information Centers.
The report suggests that parents can assist by learning about the legal rights of handicapped workers and the kinds of work-site modifications that could help their children succeed.
The publication, "Parents' Role in Transition for Handicapped Youth,'' is available free of charge from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education, 1960 Kenny Road, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1090.--DV