To the Editor:
It is about time that someone provided an honest observation and appraisal of special education in our schools. Kalman R. Hettleman’s Commentary (“The Illusion and Broken Promises of Special Education,” March 9, 2005) is right on.
As a Chicago public school teacher, I am constantly amazed at the lack of accountability related to special education programs. While the purpose and rhetoric of special education are honorable, the reality is despicable. The system is intent on moving students through it with little if any regard for their actual education.
Grades are often awarded solely to placate both parents and the bureaucracy. I have yet to sit in on an individualized-education-program meeting that was held in accordance with either the law or sound professional practice. There are no team meetings, and accommodations are often added without either teacher input or consideration of how the programs can be implemented in the classroom. I have received accommodations that were agreed upon and entered into by a couple of staff members without instructional responsibility after the dispersal of the IEP team and without notice to them.
While I suspect that some schools conduct special education in a professional manner, my observation and experience indicate that much of the system is a sham foisted on the children and parents that depend on it. It is time that teachers started speaking out about this situation and began forcing the system to act in accordance with the law and in the interest of the child.