Just because some students have identifiable disabilities doesn't mean they are incapable of learning. Indeed, experts estimate nearly 90 percent of students with disabilities can obtain a high school diploma and be set to go onto college or a career. Many do not, data suggests, because they lack needed support throughout the school and work continuum.
This is something that parents of special-needs children understand well. They, along with other advocates in this area – including education law attorneys – appreciate that the advancements achieved to ensure that these children have the access to equal education have not come without struggle. It is in the context of that reality that one mother has said, "What most folks don't understand is, families with children who have disabilities are in a perpetual state of fight mode."
Equal education - not lower expectation
As we observed in our last post, the current administration at the U.S. Department of Education continues to act in ways that keep the families of special-needs students on watch. Last month, the scrapping of what officials consider outdated policy documents raised hackles. Many of those documents clarified the rights of students under federal law. This month, there's concern that the DOE might grant New York State a waiver on testing requirements called for under the Every Student Succeeds Act.
The state says the requested waiver will allow schools to test special needs students on what they know, rather than what they should be expected to know based on the grade they are enrolled in. But advocates under the umbrella of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Task Force are pushing back.
The group notes the New York City school district doesn't support the waiver. It also says that the waiver would let the state off the hook on providing the quality education all students are owed. Ultimately, the consortium says granting the state's request would violate students' civil rights by denying them equal opportunity under the law.
Efforts to make sure every child gets the support and education they deserve cannot stop, but parents don't have to face the challenge alone. For help, consult skilled attorneys, such as are found at the Law Offices of Neal H. Rosenberg.