It became mandatory in the year 1975 for the United States of America to initiate the Special Education Programs after passing of the Education for Al Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) by congress. This was in response to the nationwide discrimination prevailing in the educational agencies that frustrated the students with disabilities. Upon modification to capture more needs of the students with disabilities, this act transformed its name to Individuals with Disabilities Education act (IDEA) (Friend, 2013). Every state in the United States of America has funds specifically allocated for providing special education together with other related services to students with disabilities.
Through IDEA, every student is entitled to free and appropriate public education (FAPE) which is conducted in a least restrictive environment deemed as LRE. The success of the program is dependent on the stakeholders, such as parents of the students with disabilities and other top professionals from the various educational agencies, to identify the unique needs of education that the student requires (Turnbull, 2013). Moreover, they also need to determine placements based on annual goals that the education system intends to achieve. Other key elements that need to be facilitated for this initiative to be a success are counseling services, program modifications, testing accommodation together with other services that will facilitate the smooth flow of the education process (Friend, 2013). Parents of the children with disabilities play an important role in curriculum formulation and implementation. A record of accomplishment on the students’ adaptation to the program elements is stored in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) report, which is designed to meet the state and federal educational agency standards
The IDEA act entitles a student with disabilities from the age of 3 to 21 to be able to receive special education and other related services from their local area school districts. Under the constitution of the United States, a student is viewed as one with disabilities if he or she belongs in either of the following categories. Specific learning disability, hearing impairment, language and speech disability, autism, deaf-blind, physical or orthopedic impairment, behavioral and or emotional disability, visual impairment, intellectual impairment, developmental disability, intellectual disability, traumatic head injury, multiple disabilities and other health related impairments such as attention deficit disorder. The nature of the disability therefore determines the type of specialized service that a student will undergo. The IEP contains various goals that focus on self-care, vocational training, social skills, speech and other physical training needs (Friend, 2013).
History of Special Education in the United States of America
The present day is characterized by students attending the same public schools regardless as to whether they have disabilities or not. The issue of special education became rampant in the early 20th century. Parents of the affected children wet vocal to enlighten the public on the current state of dissolution of children with disabilities. Under the stewardship of John F Kennedy, the Presidential Panel on Mental Retardation was introduced. The elementary and secondary education act was responsible for financing of the education programs that various education institutions ran (Smith, et al., 2015).
Despite the existence of these initiatives that would guarantee a good education for any child joining school, very few children with disabilities were seen joining public schools. Because of this acclimatization, the proposal of the Individuals with disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) legislation would see a shift in the way the children with disabilities were handled in schools. The inception of EHA gave mandate to all educational agencies to offer services to all children regardless of their disability. On the other hand, IDEA made it a requirement for all educational institutions to offer special or individualized education for those children who are qualified to be referred to having disabilities (Smith, et al., 2015). It also become a requirement by the national and federal government that before any institution is allocated education funds, it had to have a special program that handled the needs of the special children in the society.
In the special education sector, parents are seen to play a major pivotal role in the determination of the quality of education that their children are entitled. As a cosmopolitan country, parents are always of the thought that they are treated differently than the native parents of the children in these institutions. It therefore becomes important for every parent to understand their rights so that the can know how to defend the rights of their children when oppressed (Smith, et al., 2015).
Cases have been on the increase involving parents with the national governments and other key educational stakeholders with their rights being defined continuously with every clause of law. The civil rights of children have been a prime area of concern to the stakeholders and these dates back to 1929 where 100 programs aimed at equipping teachers with the necessary skills for teaching children who are handicapped (Yell, 2016). Special Education has benefited from cases such as Shaeffer v. Weaste. In the year 2005, there was a query as what was the composition of an appropriate education. The ruling by the Supreme Court was that IDEA forced parents and not schools to not being guaranteed FAPE during legal disputes (Osborne & Russo, 2014). The practicality of the education system was emphasized with considerations being made on the quality of what the state and federal governments were offering as absolute free service benefiting from devolved funding.
Another significant case is on that involved Cedar Rapis V. Garret F. During this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the local school district was to cater for the expenses that involved the monitoring of students with disabilities that required close monitoring and supervision. It proposed for the existence of health-maintenance routines, which would guarantee the safety of the student. This therefore made it mandatory for school offering special education to have licensed physicians in their premises in order to cope up with any health related challenges that may arise. The case of Timother W. V. Rochester Scholl District reviewed and interpreted the P.L 94 – 142 that required that the children faced with disabilities were entitled to appropriate public education that was provided freely (Bogdan & Biklen, 2013). Various other cases exist that have defended the plight of the children .with disability and their right to attain free education such as Honig V. Doe and Smith V. Ronbnson
Cultural and Learning Difference
Special education is particularly sensitive to cultural and learning differences. This often pose as a challenge to the teachers who try to understand the students and try to eliminate the alienation gap that may exist among the students involved. It becomes important for teachers to exercise professionalism when interpreting the performance of students that surround the CLD students. It therefore becomes important for the educators not to mistake linguistic or cultural differences for disabilities that influence the performance of students in these institutions. Majority of CLD students have been wrongfully placed in the special education classes ever since the special, education initiative was formed (Ford, 2012). There have been a series of lawsuits, which particularly affect the Hispanic and African American Students, and the existence of a legislation that guarantees that students are to be evaluated and educated in a culturally fair environment where there is no discrimination. However, data collected by the United States Department of education continuously notes the misplacement of various students from ethnically diverse groups in the special education students’ category.
The over-and under representation of the CLD students that have found their seats in the special education classrooms brews debate as to whether the education system is marked with rampant discrimination based on ethnicity, language, culture and race or there is a denial of appropriate education for specific classes of students. These misplaced placements negatively influence the performance of students and in the end influence the quality of life that they are going to experience. Special education has marked differences to the normal education, which is attained by the normal student. It derails the energies of the misplaced students and therefore it becomes important that students be properly grilled to ascertain placements, which should be liberal and free from discrimination (Kolb, 2014).
The special education professionals are governed with specific ethical codes that ensure that the students are properly taught ad are not misguide or discriminated by any individual in the society. The special education professionals should therefore show their commitment to the development of high education and enhance the quality of life of the various individuals without favoritism or discrimination (Cook & Cook, 2013).
They should be able to maintain and promote high competence levels marked with adverse integrity during their professions.
They should be able to initiate professional activities that help the individual with disabilities, bring their family together, students and merge various research studies to recognize their presence and importance (Cook & Cook, 2013).
In the practice of their profession, they should be able to exercise and have better quality judgment of behavior and learning characteristics of the students (Cook & Cook, 2013).
The special educators should strive to advance their knowledge and skills to equip themselves with better means of how to handle these particular students and the challenges that arise there off (Cook & Cook, 2013).
These educators should also conform to polices and standards that guide their profession.
They should also play a major role in improving and upholding policies, regulations and laws that directly affect the special education curriculum and practice (Cook & Cook, 2013).
The educators should shun away from unethical and illegal practice that violates the professional standards that are observed and mentioned in the Delegate Assembly of CEC (Cook & Cook, 2013).
These professionals have to uphold a high sense of integrity to dissipate their duties effectively and efficiently. The special students depend on them utterly for their education and they therefore hold a big key of success and prosperity that should not be gambled upon. It is a result of their efforts that the positivity of the imitative can be derived (Rose & Grosvenor, 2013).
I believe that it is the responsibility of the society to accommodate the special students. Handicapped individuals require a supporting hand and they should be made to feel part of the society. They should be involved in various activities and recognized for their contributions made. The existence of special education has transformed over the ages with various acts such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education act (IDEA) and The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) have played a significant role in ensuring that the constitution fights for the rights of his people.
I am particularly impressed by the concern and dedication of the government in channeling its efforts to elevate the lives of the needy and special persons in the society. We live in an era where we believe that education transforms the quality of life that we end up having in future. Through the state governments, the federal government has been able to channel funds that cater for the inception of specialized education training in major institutions. The previous stigma and trauma that the special students face will be outdated.
I also recognize the role that the special educators play in making this initiative a success. I look at them as holders of success and they are the principle-determining factor of the quality of lives that these students would attain in future. They should continuously pursue training to equip themselves with expertise and skills of how to effectively categorize students and how to help them cope up with their challenges an focus their energies on other aspects of life where they can adeptly excel.
Philosophy into Practice
As a teacher, I recognize the tasks of judging students as to whether they are CLD students or special education students remain a challenge. Before diving deep into the way I will administer my lessons, I will first observe the professional code of ethics and standard s that guide the profession. The code of ethics requires me to uphold integrity and not to frustrate the efforts of students because of any discrimination based on ethnicity, culture, race or language.
I will need to understand every student that is within my jurisdiction. I will open a profile that I will be recording progress, assessments and performance of students as a guide to determining which need special education.
I acknowledge the fact that students have varying abilities and they possess unique capabilities that need help to be identified. In my course delivery, I will monitor students’ behavior both in school through observation and involvement in their activities and at home through frequent parental talks to keep track with progress of my students.
I will also organize forums where the students meet freely to interact and socialize with a motive of eradicating the stigma and trauma that the special students may have previously faced because of segregation. I will also design schemes of work that embrace different perspective of self-identity and growth.
This will be in line with my motive to increase course content delivery as I seek to improve the quality of lives of these particular students. It therefore becomes important that I have all the needs of the students readily available and help them transition their lives into useful roles that would in the end benefit the society.