Shaianne Kim/ Santa Margarita Catholic HS 11th Grade
From the very roots of the establishment of the United States in 1776, rights of disabled people were ignored. Over the next 200 years, over 4.5 million disabled students were denied appropriate education or schooling before the issue reached legislation in the early 1970s. The legislation thankfully gained support after marginalized families lobbied and encouraged changes to the legislation.
Real, impactful changes were given to all disabled students by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that required accommodations in the curriculum for disabled students in schools.
In 1975, President Gerald Ford signed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA), which was unfortunately ineffective due to underfunding and unsatisfactory from families until 1997 when the EHA underwent revisions and met technological requirements to become known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Most recently, in 2001 and 2004, loan programs including added technology and accountability called the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was implemented to ensure the effectiveness of special education programs in schools.
Although these revisions and efforts have been made, is it enough?
The first problem lies within the very beginning of the educational process: identifying students and diagnosing the correct disabilities. Each disability or condition requires a different curriculum, style of teaching, and specialization to show the greatest process in the student’s learning. A process called “child find” is implemented in most schools to identify students with disabilities but have shown inaccuracy and “cheating” the system.
In a certain case, a school in Texas purposefully identified fewer students as needing special needs when more students should have qualified for it. The school wanted to save money, which was predicted as 3 billion dollars over 3 years. In the states, it was estimated by Congress to cost twice as much to educate a disabled student than a general student. Because of this issue, many students may not be receiving the appropriate education that will allow them to thrive in school or in their future careers.
Does the inefficiency of the special needs program all come down to money? If money was not an issue, would every student be able to receive the most effective education?
This is clearly an issue that must be addressed. If every student was to receive an appropriate specialized curriculum for themselves, everyone would have an equal opportunity for a better future through a college education and job opportunities.
<Shaianne Kim/ Santa Margarita Catholic HS 11th Grade