Image by Jim Nix / Nomadic Pursuits via FlickrOur recent experiences as a family in the special education system of Indiana have illustrated a new social problem for Hoosiers, but perhaps for others across the nation. The idea behind IDEA and all its sister laws was to guarantee equivalent education for the disabled, and maybe, at the time, we didn't know what that really meant. There's great cost involved.
To be realistic, there are good teachers, bad teachers, great administrators and bad directors everywhere. People are people, and just being an educator doesn't guarantee good intentions. It's true of any job, but in few places does it have more effect than in education. Education becomes slave to local politics. That is directly juxtaposed to the intention of Article Seven and IDEA, the laws governing our treatment of disabled students.
Parents, already financially strapped due to massive medical bills, have a law that allows them the right to advocate for their child. Great! How's that working in Indiana?
It's not. Not really.
Children take what they are given, and services do not always follow the individual needs of the child as they are meant to do. Why? Because politics demands cost cutting somewhere, and these kids are most vulnerable to that reduction of funds. Sadly, discrimination still exists, and it's most apparent at school board meetings where equal is defined in a school district. So why don't parents sue? There's a law, right?
While the law guarantees the right, it doesn't guarantee access.
Money does that. Money that disabled children and their families don't have because they are disabled. The weakness in the law falls in the category of socio-economic disenfranchisement. In the next few posts, I intend to explore the subject further; looking at the details and discussing options that lawmakers and administrators have at their disposal.