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.