Special Education Letter to the Editor

The ‘Despicable Reality’ Of Special Education

March 30, 2005 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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.

Ken Kopicki

Chicago, Ill.


Budget & Finance Webinar Leverage New Funding Sources with Data-Informed Practices
Address the whole child using data-informed practices, gain valuable insights, and learn strategies that can benefit your district.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
ChatGPT & Education: 8 Ways AI Improves Student Outcomes
Revolutionize student success! Don't miss our expert-led webinar demonstrating practical ways AI tools will elevate learning experiences.
Content provided by Inzata
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Tech Is Everywhere. But Is It Making Schools Better?
Join us for a lively discussion about the ways that technology is being used to improve schools and how it is falling short.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education Quiz How Does Special Education Funding Work? Test Your Knowledge
What is IDEA? How much can the federal government contribute to special education funding? Take our quiz.
1 min read
Image of a student working with a teacher.
Special Education How Teachers Can Help Students With Dyslexia: What Our Readers Say
EdWeek's social-media followers weigh in on how to support students with dyslexia, a learning disability that interferes with reading.
5 min read
Young school boy writing in a notebook while sitting in a library with an educator.
Special Education Explainer How Special Education Funding Actually Works
Special education is among the most complicated and misunderstood facets of America’s sprawling K-12 school landscape.
6 min read
Illustration of a desk with a calculator and budget sheet.
Special Education Spotlight Spotlight on Special Education Compliance
This Spotlight will help you examine implementation of universal screening for dyslexia and more.