A new report released today investigates New York City’s upcoming overhaul of Special Education in public schools. “Educating All Students Well” was commissioned by the Fund for Public Advocacy and researched the Department of Education’s preparations and plans to move towards inclusive classrooms where students with disabilities can learn alongside their general population peers. The reforms are a decade in the making, and will affect all 1,700 schools in New York City. The report, researched in cooperation with the DOE, recommends a series of steps to maximize the reforms’ potential and minimize disruption during the upcoming transition.
The report is the first in a series on Special Education reform commissioned by the Fund for Public Advocacy. Subsequent research will evaluate the preparedness and response of parents, students and faculty to the first stages of Special Education Reform. Over the last year the DOE has made progress in expanding their training for school personnel and has developed a hotline for parents, as well as a special education informational office across all five boroughs.
“My kids were fortunate to attend an elementary school that took an inclusive approach to Special Ed. I’m a true believer that this approach can work,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “At the end of the day, this is about improving achievement for all kids. That can only happen if the Department of Education is closely attuned to what’s happening in the classroom and adjusting its approach based on feedback from parents and faculty. We’re committed to working with the City and our school communities to ensure this reform effort is implemented successfully.”
The report’s recommendations include:
- Increasing professional development for parent coordinators and service providers who work alongside families and faculty to implement reforms;
- Closely monitoring schools as they develop Individualized Education Plans tailored to each student’s needs;
- Surveying parents, teachers and students to evaluate implementation at the end of the coming school year to understand parents, teachers and students' experiences with Special Education Reform; and
- Holding a city-wide Special Education Reform Summit to explore the implications of the Reform on equity and access for all students as the 2012-13 school year unfolds. The Public Advocate and DOE should collaborate on designing and conducting a public forum or summit in which key stakeholders are provided opportunities to examine and explore actions planned to improve and sustain Special Education Reform, target equity and access, and increase the number of students who graduate high school and are prepared for success in college and careers.