Education Opinion

Shortchanging Special Education Students

By Walt Gardner — November 17, 2017 1 min read
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Tens of thousands of the 200,000 special education students in the New York City school system are not receiving the services required by law (“Thousands Of City Children Not Getting Special Education Help,” The New York Times, Nov. 1). When a school does not have the licensed staff, it has to look for an outside contractor or provide parents with a voucher so that they can find a provider on their own. The only bright note is that 73 percent of students are getting all the services they need, which is an improvement over the 59 percent the previous year.

It’s hard to understand why the situation exists. I know that special education teachers are in demand, but if the incentives offered by the New York City system were greater I believe the problem would be ameliorated. Since IDEA is involved, it’s the responsibility of the federal government to provide the necessary funding.

There’s another aspect that is given short shrift. Charter schools like to point to their success compared with traditional public schools. Yet the latter not only enroll far more special education students, but they lack enough certified teachers in the field. As a result, comparisons are misleading. Nevertheless, the media continue to give charter school officials extensive coverage about their superior outcomes.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.