How Do Spec. Ed. Parents Protect Their Children?

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To the Editor:

Having read your article ("Switching Sides, U.S. Backs District in IDEA Case Before Supreme Court," edweek.org, June 28, 2005), I have a few comments.

Maybe I am naive, but shouldn’t we all want the best education possible for our children? From my experience, that does not represent what is happening.

I am a parent of a child whom the school has labeled “SLD,” or severely learning-disabled (which, by the way, tells me very little). For the most part, securing adequate schooling has been an uphill battle. As a parent, I have one obligation, and that is to my child. Although the professionals who are part of the individualized education program have a responsibility to my child, they also have obligations to the school district.

Last year my district designated 22 percent of the school budget as usable for special education; next year, that figure will shrink to 18 percent. Money apparently is the key to what services and testing my child will receive.

Under the argument put before the U.S. Supreme Court in the pending case from Montgomery County, Md., my job as a parent may get harder. For example, even if I thought that knowing which severe learning disability my child has would be beneficial, I would have to pay (under the argument’s logic) for the testing to determine that. For me, this would be impossible financially.

Should this legal argument prevail, it will hurt the families that are not financially well-off enough to fight the school districts.

In my state, students are required to pass the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards test to graduate. I strongly believe that, in the case of special education students, the burden of proof for meeting this requirement should shift to the schools. Under present circumstances, how do I as a parent know that the education given my child is adequate enough to pass that test?

Lisa Vickery
Tucson, Ariz.

Vol. 24, Issue 43, Page 42

Published in Print: July 27, 2005, as How Do Spec. Ed. Parents Protect Their Children?

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