Arne Duncan Leaves Nuclear Bomb Parting Gift For Students With Disabilities

Students With Disabilities, US DOE

One year ago tomorrow, I wrote my biggest article ever.  Entitled US DOE & Arne Duncan Drop The Mother Of All Bombs On States’ Special Education Rights, it generated numerous hits from across the country.  I imagine just about every engaged parents of children with disabilities read that article.  It was a warning shot.  It impeded on the ability of IEP teams to accurately and correctly formulate an IEP.   The latest “Dear Colleague” letter from the United States Department of Education is actually striking the hammer into the coffin of IDEA.  The letter, written by Melody Musgrove, the Direct of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), demands all IEPs be written with the state standards as part of the goals for an IEP.  I find this to be incredibly offense and this spits on the whole concept of IDEA.

In Delaware, where I live, our Department of Education released their Annual Measurable Objectives last week based on growth and proficiency of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  While overall they want the proficiency rate to go from 50% to 75% in six years, for the sub-group of students with disabilities, they want them to go from 19% to 59% in six years.  So students with disabilities will have to work harder than every single one of their peers.

The combination of these two announcements shows that those in power in education truly don’t understand neurobiological disorders and disabilities.  It almost seems as if they want to get rid of the whole concept of special education in favor of personalized learning.  As well, it appears they want parents to pull their kids out of public education.  Is this some twisted voucher program that no one has told us about, or do they just not care about the well-being of these students?  I’m all for progress and improvement, but there comes a point in time where every long-distance runner hits a wall.  When they hit that, their body literally breaks down.  Students with disabilities are going to hit that wall and it won’t be pretty.


3 thoughts on “Arne Duncan Leaves Nuclear Bomb Parting Gift For Students With Disabilities

  1. Maybe the intended action is not that SWD need to work harder than ever. The needed ACTION is effective teacher training and utilizing instructional methods that are better for SWD then currently used. Servicing the Individual needs of each SWD means tailoring instruction to meet their needs…in the case of SLD the majority have Dyslexia and meeting their needs with best practices under International Dyslexia Association Standards could be an area to look to improve and provide appropriate services that are not currently being provided in the majority of SPED cases. Additionally, Early identification under Child Find for SLD would help bring appropriate services to these students earlier. So it really is about the educators stepping up to the challenge, looking at better ways than expecting SWD to work harder with current ineffective measures.


  2. Duncan & Musgrove have been quietly whittling away at the protections guaranteed by the IEP for years. It’s obvious they don’t like decisions being made by parents & school professionals about services and placements. It gets expensive when kids get what they need although the kids with disabilities happen not to be the ones the 1% care to pay for.

    In 2011 Musgrove bragged about ending compliance and OSEP would focus only on monitoring. Her idea of monitoring was to look at SPED kids test scores in aggregate on state & federal data bases. In 2014 Duncan shut down every state compliance office (or offices in the case of large states. TN had 3). Recently he came out with a statement about SPED student progress was going to be measured only by their test scores relative to the grade level standards. This is a clear assault on the integrity of the IEP, as progress is measured by the child’s performance on the goals & objectives. Period.
    I could go on & on about Duncan’s assault on SPED. Consider this: Obama’s legacy will be the gutting of 40 years of rights and protections for kids with disabilities under IDEA. Shameful.


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