Response Paper questions:
1. Reflect on your opinions about IDEA and NCLB. What is their core strength? Do they have any weaknesses?
In my opinion, IDEA has revolutionized education for students with disabilities. Children with disabilities are no longer segregated in institutions. Children with disabilities are now able to become students in the regular school population. They are educated alongside their peers without disabilities. Law has defined parent’s roles and responsibilities as decision makers in the education of their children with disabilities. I think the core strength of IDEA is that IDEA recognizes children with disabilities as citizens with rights and responsibilities like other citizens in this country. IDEA recognizes the strengths and abilities of the students with disabilities to contribute to society and to benefit from society as other citizens do. The main weakness that I see in IDEA is that there is resistance to change in some school districts and by some teachers and administrators. Some do not want to change the way things are done so they are very slow to diagnose disabilities and implement the appropriate education and related services for children with disabilities. They follow what the law says must be done but they do so very slowly and years go by as parents fight for the needs of their children.
In my opinion, NCLB has raised expectations for all students including those with disabilities to succeed in school and be ready to compete in the workforce and college when they graduate. NCLB has created expectations that all students will excel in reading, math, and science. All children will take assessment tests and will pass the tests. The states are held accountable for the performance of the individual schools. The school districts hold the teachers accountable for teaching the material the student must know so they can pass the tests. The core strength of NCLB is that it raises expectations for students to succeed in reading, math, and science.
I see several weaknesses in NCLB. One is the expectation that all children take the same assessment tests and are graded the same. I see this as a bias against diversity and disabilities. Not all children learn at the same rate and not all children retain information in the same way. Second, is all the accountability is placed on the teacher. The parents and children need to be held accountable for their child’s education. If the parents do not value education, how can a teacher educate a child who refuses to learn? Why is the teacher punished when children refuse to do class assignments and the parents allow the child to refuse to do their class assignments? My third reason is the accountability focuses on the teacher and the school. Families move so the school’s ability to show improvement changes as children move into or out of a school. The assessments should track the growth of each individual child and not focus so much on placing accountability on the teacher. A fourth weakness is that three core subjects are the focus of the assessments. This requires a teacher to teach to the test and exclude other subjects that are necessary to create a well-rounded education.
I see both IDEA and NCLB as "optimistic" in their view of education. However, I would agree that NCLB seems limited, and even biased against those with disabilities. The initial intent of the program seems to be "good," but the reality is that it is often more harmful than not.
Great discussion and ideas.
I agree that IDEA has given the voice they need for their children, but to what end? I am not saying that parents should not be able to take the districts to court but it sure is a grey area on how much a parent can demand for their children.
When IDEA was made into law it was a landmark moment for people with disabilities. Before this law people with disabilities had little to no rights. This gave not only the caregivers and their children empowerment but it forced the rest of society to acknowledge the extra support that people with disabilities need. Some of the negative aspects of this law are that it can sometimes put school districts into positions that can almost bankrupt them because of lawsuits.
The NCLB law that was passed by a very misguided Bush administration has caused hardships for parents and schools across the United States. The law puts such high demands on the schools to bring up test scores but yet never addresses the special education or English Language Learners needs. Schools tests schools are brought down because so many special educations students fall into a grey area of being to high functioning for the alternative assessment, but are not allowed to have the support they need to take a standardized test. This law had good intentions but was not thoroughly thought through.
You highlight one issue with IDEA, which is that special education has played on our litigious nature as a society. The intent, however, is pure. (many of the cases are valid as well.)
Again, I can also agree with you about NCLB. Intentions were good, but perhaps the plan wasn't fully thought out. There are many students who fall through the cracks.
The law suits that you speak of laid the ground work for the laws like IDEA. If the parents hadn't cared enough about the education their children with disabilities were excluded from receiving then there wouldn't have been any law suits and no legislation providing the education and protection of the rights of those with disabilities. If you don't make noise no one will listen to you. The law suits forced the school districts to allow children with disabilities to go to school, have a free appropriate public education, to have dreams and to fulfil those dreams.
NCLB and IDEA are two of the nation’s most important federal laws
relating to the education of children. NCLB tries to improve the education of all children, with an emphasis on children from low income families. IDEA focuses on the individual child and seeks to ensure specialized services for children with disabilities so that they may benefit from education.
In NCLB, every state is required to develop academic standards that are the same for every student, develop annual academic assessments for all students, make sure that there is a qualified teacher in every classroom, and ensure that schools and school districts test at least 95 percent of all students. IDEA requires every state to establish a goal of providing a full educational opportunity to all children with disabilities and a timeline for accomplishing that goal, ensure that all special education teachers are highly qualified and annually develop an individualized education program (IEP) for each child with a disability. One of the weaknesses of IDEA is that i feel not every teacher or faculty is on board with it. I feel that some teachers are set in their ways and don't fully support IDEA or inclusion.
The strengths of NCLB have forced schools to begin providing more information about student performance. This testing has forced some public schools to make tough decisions about how to generate improved student performances. NCLB also has empowered parents with some control over their child’s education and to make sure that their child is succeeding academically. The weakness of NCLB if that every child takes the same assessment test. In my opinion, this isn’t a very accurate way to assess the child. Not every child takes tests the same way, especially children with disabilities.