A lot of disabled children nowadays are taking to American schools in the pursuit of quality education. Even if there is some semblance of community support, or even school-wide support, it is alarming to note that there is still much to be done. There is still a lack of good studies and research made on the unique needs of disabled children. Also, there is a continuous threat of non-school intervention in cases that sometimes warrant to the harassment of disabled children within school premises, and even the lack of school facilities that are specially created for the comfort and enjoyment of the school’s disabled student populace.
Finally, even a recent study suggests that even given the support the disabled child has in the form of the alignment of IDEA and NCLB, they have to contend with the many changes it could bring to present attitudes, what they believe in, as well as what they hold dear in helping disabled students achieve the best in their educational lives. Introduction Students with physical disabilities – especially those who have opted to enroll themselves in institutions that are meant for “normal” students – have always been beset with a lot of challenges through every step of their educational process.
From the choice of the school, to its environment, and available curricula, physically disabled students have always been limited to what they could choose that also basically suits them. Abend (2001) stresses the importance of the entire school experience for the disabled students and has reported about the current laws and regulations put in place that were meant to protect them. These include the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 that was later renamed as the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act or IDEA in 1990, and the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.
IDEA is a “refitted” version of the Education For All Handicapped Children Act, which has made it possible for disabled children to get equal educational rights. It was more concerned with knowing more about disabled children and focused on making special education and other related services available for them. IDEA on the other hand, with its amendments in 1997, made it possible for disabled students to be able to study with non-disabled students, and championed the said cause. Abend also tells of the Americans With Disabilities Act or ADA of 1990 that then enforces laws that made schools safer and more accessible for disabled students.
The ADA is put in place for schools to either follow ADA Accessibility Guidelines or ADAAG or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards or UFAS. Unfortunately, the UFAS and the ADAAG are designed not with the disabled children in mind, especially the disabled students of school age. Giangreco, Dennis, Cloninger, Edelman and Schattman (1993) also noted the issue of teachers who are teaching disabled children as well. It is considered important because, aside from the school environment, disabled students would also have to deal with teachers who could or could not deal with them efficiently like their normal counterparts.
As the concept of allowing the disabled children to join their non-disabled classmates in general education courses is supported by a lot of educators, some are rather still doubtful as to what extent should this inclusion would be. Giangreco, Edelman, Luiselli and MacFarland (1997) have also reported about the use of instructional assistants that now serve to support the said implementation of allowing disabled children to be able to study together with their non-disabled counterparts on a classroom.
As part of the new efforts of being able to actually complement the increase of disabled children to be accommodated, school administrators, teachers and instructional assistants alike are facing increasing pressure from the parents of such children to provide better care. Aside from making the school actually safe and its environment actually conducive to ensuring equal opportunities for education between disabled and non-disabled children, school administrators would also have to deal with the “hostility” of the normal students themselves, especially in taking to bullying disabled children in their own classes.
Hergert (2004) has reported that bullying has been increasingly getting the nefarious attention that it deserves from the media as well as educational journals. The report does include other factors that lead to bullying aside from the children having been physically impaired in some way, such as being ethnically diverse, the children being bullied of different ages, and live in communities where a lot of the people who live there could single them out from being “different”, such as small or big cities, and even those living in suburban areas.
In light of such problems, the National Council on Disability has taken measures in order to improve the educational opportunities of such disabled students. Frieden (2004) has presented a paper which details all the research that the NCD has undertaken, with the cooperation of several schools as well as integration with IDEA as well as the No Child Left Behind Act or NCLB, one of the most ambitious educational laws that were put in place that sought to enhance American education especially through reading and mathematics, measured by their own respective standardized tests.
Statement Of The Issue To Be Investigated Students with physical disabilities are enrolling in public schools all across America at an increasing rate. As is already indicated by the recent studies, American lawmakers are striving to get a better grip of this problem and introduce laws which would enable disabled students to have an equal chance at education like their non-disabled counterparts. Frieden (2004) has created a report that shows how very determined the American educational system is in actually curbing that said issue.
The issue in question, giving disabled students a clear chance at education, already has several laws to its credit, but as Frieden also already states, the recent study that they have has its many implications. On one side, a lot of educators and schools are very much concerned in providing better schools for these disabled children, but on another side, they are grappling with the fact that the problem is enormous, and schools and school administrators are still quite daunted by the fact that there simply isn’t enough understanding and readiness as of yet as to handle this unique problem.
The schools themselves are also beset with other problems such as meeting the yearly “report card” on their annual performance, and the impact that it could cause on the students with disabilities if things did not go as planned. The report also focused on the teachers as well as the strategies that they would most likely employ, with respect and with the support of the school administrators in question. It also details current research that the NCD has with regards to how they are coping with the problem at the moment.
Despite this however, even if disabled students are afforded opportunities for equal chances for good education right now, they are still beset with a lot of problems. The report entails the findings that they have to a certain point that which still needs to be addressed. Literature Review Abend (2001) reports the various laws that were put in place in order to assure that disabled students, especially children, have the same opportunities just like their non-disabled counterparts when it comes to quality education . These laws and guidelines he discussed included:
• Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (Public Law 94-142) • Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) • Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) • Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) • ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) There is also Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Public Law 93-112) that worked in close tandem with that of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975. Whereas the 1975 Act was more concerned with the services that are given to disabled children, Section 504 deals with whether or not the disabled children would have need of such services.
However, as it was already discussed, the use of the UFAS or the ADAAG was more tailored to suit disabled adults more than it can be used for disabled students. Abend goes on to discuss one of the key factors of the success of an overall rehabilitation of the current stand on disabled students bid on education – how the school should be set up. Schools are considered as the second homes to students throughout most of their school lives, and it is important that disabled children should also be comfortable with how they would be willing to spend almost an entire day in such a facility.
The school facilities in question should not only be the furniture that could be found inside a classroom – it also deals with the environment of the classroom (if it’s comfortable, too noisy, or too cramped), where the disabled students could go to after school hours (such as playgrounds and the school grounds), and the security of the school. Concerns about air quality are also aired because of the fact that disabled children are highly susceptible to fluctuation in air quality, especially if the child is to go to a general education school.
Ensuring that disabled children could actually go around in a school that is also designed for their comfort actually helps a lot in the process of ensuring that they also get quality education. Other important factors that contribute to sound and quality education for disabled children include highly qualified teachers as well as highly qualified instructional assistants. Giangreco et al. (1993) and Giangreco et al. (1997) report on the many benefits that highly qualified teachers and instructional assistants could give to disabled children in the classroom setting.
There are educators who feel strongly that disabled children should be able to join their non-disabled classmates in a normal classroom setting, but there are some who are still worried up to what extent should it be made possible. It is also the same with instructional assistants who serve as “extensions” of the teacher in a classroom, especially when coordinating with the teachers to also include them in class discussion and attending to the special needs of their “charges”.
As they are tasked with the overall management of the classroom, they are also in charge of looking over what happens within that classroom, and sometimes it is more than just staying within the lessons. However, as Hergert (2004) relates, such disabled students’ incidents concerned with bullying by other children are traditionally a “hands-off” matter when it comes to school affairs. There are cases however that some schools also act upon complaints made by the students who are harassed.
Hergert is concerned about, along with the problems of teachers and educational assistants of the best caliber to educate and attend to disabled students’ needs, how the school community still seems to deny the fact that bullying is such a huge problem and dismissing such complaints as overreactions from the students. However, with Frieden’s (2004) report, all such problems are then equated and are meticulously laid out, in response to such problems.
Aside from ensuring sound school environments for disabled children to actually find themselves become part of the classroom experience itself, the report has also talks about what the schools can do in order to combat these problems. These are accomplished by strategies that are based upon what typically goes on in a school during their disabled children programs like counseling and the like. Common factors were discovered and goals were also set out, along with the best strategies that could help bring about it. Findings Frieden’s (2004) report has noted several findings on the educational crisis faced by America’s disabled children.
Although there is enough reason to believe that disabled children nowadays have better opportunities in getting a better education, it still comes up short. Aside from the overwhelming responsibilities of implementing new and improved means of getting disabled children the education that they deserve, the NCD also has to look over problems of reducing the percentage of disabled children who drop out of schools, ensuring that there are more disabled children who graduate with high school diplomas, and look over available strategies that would ensure the success of a school’s disabled children educational program.
Based on Abend and Hergert’s independent studies, the focus on the needs of disabled children through adequate school facilities and the bullying problem are either ill-fit for the children themselves or largely ignored by the school. There is still an inadequacy in trying to solve this problem, and is reflected in Frieden’s report. Also, the problem of finding the best educators for the disabled children themselves counts as another task that needs to be attended to.
Lastly, the problem of implementing such improvements on a school-wide basis, mainly through following the guidelines set by the IDEA and NCLB alignment, also needs a lot of attention. Implementing such guidelines is an entirely different thing when it has to be maintained successfully, and this is what the Frieden report has sought to recommend for future studies and research on the matter. Discussion Getting quality education for disabled children is a daunting task. This is more so if the current stakes are too high.
In correspondence with the integration of both IDEA and NCLB, the Public Schools of North Carolina (2005) has released guidelines and procedures that schools found statewide would have to implement with regards to the reauthorization of IDEA back in 2004. The guidelines include also the various responsibilities that the test coordinators would have to accomplish in order to disseminate information to North Carolina statewide schools with regards to documentation, job responsibilities, staff training, and other procedures and guidelines.
As part of the results that came after the alignment of IDEA and NCLB, the guidelines are a clear sign of, in the given North Carolina example that American education is indeed in an upswing. However, NCLB has, at that time, not actually improved American education as a whole, but mostly benefited schools who were grappling with their own adequate yearly performance or AYP woes.
Aside from this, Frieden also noted how it was difficult to keep up with all the assessments that are needed by the NCLB in order to correctly gauge their academic skills. Also, it was very difficult for school leaders to realign assessments as well as other requirements that would allow disabled children to fully become part of the classroom discussion and cope with their own academic performance.
Strategies meant to complement disabled children education also come up a little short at that time, because of limited research. The studies that are available are either aimed at younger students not fit for other levels, the studies in themselves where done with limited student participation in numbers, the studies are only concentrated on one kind of disability, or there are no programs available that would help to alleviate the disabled student dropout rate.
Also, even if some education programs are set in place, there is still a lot of concern in regards to a lack of support from administrators, the time and effort used in order to implement them, lack of materials, ill-fitting teaching styles, limited teacher understanding of the practice or even not remembering it at all, and ill-fit between what is considered as “safe” for implementing in a state with regards to their own local guidelines. Conclusion The scope of undertaking the problem of the quality education of disabled children is very different from what one could expect when tackling educational concerns of non-disabled children.
This is not to say that one is clearly much more important than the other, but it means that what American education has for now for disabled children is still continuously undergoing a lot of transformation, and is still in serious need of continuous study and research. Frieden’s report basically sums up everything about the problems that disabled children education currently face, and leaves a daunting message that clearly states there is still a lot to be done yet.
This concern is not just because of what schools must do in order to make the annual “report card grade” of their performance – it means that disabled students who are enrolled in their schools need to be attended to, and have different special needs than their non-disabled counterparts. Nurturing such students and giving them equal educational opportunities are the keys in which the school thrives and survives in situations that warrant what “best education” could be expected from schools. This, alongside with their commitment to bringing the best education and American child could possibly have, should serve as their goal.
Abend, A. C. (2001) Planning and Designing for Students with Disabilities. Retrieved September 15, 2008 from www. edfacilities. org/pubs/disabilities. pdf Frieden, L. (2004) Improving Educational Outcomes for Students With Disabilities. Retrieved September 15, 2008 from www. educationalpolicy. org/pdf/NCD. pdf Giangreco, M. F. , Dennis, R. , Cloninger, C. , Edelman, S. W. & Schattman, R. (1993) “Experiences of Teachers Educating Students With Disabilities” in Exceptional Children, vol. 5. Retrieved September 15, 2008 from www. uvm. edu/~mgiangre/EC9359(4)359-372. pdf
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Topic: Disabled Children and Education
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