California parents of children with learning and other disabilities tend to file complaints with the U.S. Department of Education three times more than the national average. Earlier this year, the Policy Analysis for California Education organization released 13 reports highlighting problems with the special education system here in the state. The bottom line is that the special education law needs to change in order to better help students in need.
Some of the deficiencies noted in the reports involve better integration of special education students into the general education system in grades K-12, especially for students without disabilities. These students are often still on the fringes of the system, which does not do them any good over time. In addition, more effort needs to be made to address the social, emotional and academic needs of children in the special education system.
The reports also call for more training for teachers so they can better assist these students in their academic aspirations. More focus needs to be placed on helping them prepare for college and their futures. On a positive note, the reports praised the Orange County Office of Education for its efforts to improve its special education programs. In fact, it should serve as a model for other California districts.
Fortunately, many of the teachers involved want to help. The problem is the system, which needs an overhaul. Parents have been fighting for a long time to give their children as many educational opportunities as possible despite their special needs. Reforming the state’s special education law to facilitate improvements in the system would be a good first step in making that happen on a more consistent basis.