Special Education is a Service, Not a Place

I have a strong belief that I want to share with you today.

In the past, students with special needs were sent to separate schools, buildings and even separate homes. We have come a long way in how we see, treat and educate people with special needs. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal special education law originally passed by Congress in 1975. It has been amended several times, most recently in September 2011.

IDEA basically states that all children with disabilities have the opportunity to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) just like other children. There are many other parts of this law. I will explain them in another blog post.

This statement has been interpreted many different ways over the years. People’s beliefs and expectations have evolved. One belief is that students with disabilities should not be “sent away”. They should not go somewhere else to learn or to live. Even though most people agree that children with special needs do not need to go anywhere. The way people talk needs to reflect how people feel.

So we no longer say, “She is in special ed.”
We now say, “She is receiving special education services.”

This language helps us recognize that special education is indeed a service, not a place. 

To learn more about this topic and connect with other parents and educators just like you, 

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