Fixing Special Education: 12 Steps to Transform a Broken System
Special education is everywhere and affects all schools, students, parents, and citizens. With the mantra, "All students can learn." schools have responded to the mandates of federal law by providing inclusive programs to meet individual needs and provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities.
Yet, with the success and growth of special education came unintended, unwanted, and negative consequences, such as:
- Huge bureaucracy
- Litigation and fear of litigation between schools and parents
- Focuses on process and procedures, rather than on results, and
- Focus on labels and student weaknesses, not strengths.
This little flip book of reform balances the tale of special education's success with the need for reform: 12 steps to transform special education for the 21st century. The 12 steps provide a framework for discussion and action-with openness, balance, common sense, and without fear of touching this law. It is time!
Attorney and author Miriam Kurtzig Freedman is an expert in special education-having 'grown up' with these laws since the early days-first as a public school teacher, then a Massachusetts hearing officer, and, for more than 20 years, as an attorney representing public schools and a national speaker and consultant. Driven by her love of public education since the day she immigrated to America in elementary school, Attorney Freedman infuses her writing with experience, passion, and creativity in addition to Fixing Special Education, we also recommed you check out her website, at http://schoollawpro.com/.
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Comments and Reviews
Read a recent article written by Miriam Kurtzig Freeman
Fixing Special Education
- invites discussion and action and is a must-read for anyone interested in improving special education and restoring balance to school decision making. I am happy that Ms. Freedman has shared her wide experience in this compelling little book. I hope that it starts an important national conversation.
Philip K. Howard, Chair of Common Good and author of The Death of Common Sense
- Attorney Miriam Freedman has provided a wealth of information to parents, school people, and other interested parties. Special education laws and rules can be very complex, but Miriam has boiled special education down to what it should look like, in an easily readable format. Hopefully, all parties will take heed and students will be much better served.
David Driscoll, former Massachusetts Commissioner of Education
- Some areas in public education almost defy clear thinking. Special education appears to be one of those. That is why this book by Miriam Freedman is so valuable. She applies experience, analysis, and common sense to one of the most significant challenges in our schools. Her recommendations, spun out in a clear and simple fashion, could be a guide for policymakers.
Eric Hanushek, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
- Miriam Freedman shares candidly what you need to know and what needs to be done in order to protect and serve the best of what our kids need. Read carefully and get involved. Our future depends on it.
Mark LeBlanc, President, Small Business Success
- Miriam Freedman has incorporated her extensive experience as an attorney representing school districts in special education matters into an insightful and compelling book. As a former special education administrator, I thought the issues she raised are poignant and the recommendations vital to “fixing the system.” This little book should be mandatory reading for anyone who wants to advocate for positive change.
James Shillinglaw, Walker Partnerships
- Pay Attention, Folks… The Emperor IS Naked! This little book is packed with truths about special education. Attorney Miriam Freedman has the experience and the courage to tell it like it is and to rationally explain how it SHOULD BE! This book is not anti-special education. It is pro-kids. A must-read for all trainees who are being spoon-fed the archaic dictates of years past, and for policymakers at all levels.
Jerome J. Schultz, Ph.D., Clinical Neuropsychologist, Harvard Medical School
- As a parent who dealt with the system, I found this book interesting and useful. It confirmed my dissatisfaction with the system because too often the IEP [individualized education program] is a catalyst for a fight between the parents and the school. I hope we can find a platform for negotiating in a more cooperative environment.
Sari Brown, Massachusetts parent
- Thank you so very much for [Fixing Special Education]. I have spent 22 years working in the field of public school special education. Many of [the book’s] ideas ring very true with me. I am currently a doctoral student pursuing a degree in Educational Leadership. You have inspired me to keep working to bring about change in this broken system!
Michael B., Chesterfield, MO
- This little flipbook takes a critical look at special education in America and offers twelve suggestions to improve it. The author argues forcefully that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is no longer adequate (though it has played an important role heretofore) and that special ed itself needs an overhaul. She contends that IDEA has become too inclusive, now covering many children for whom it wasn't meant and who don't necessarily need special education. (Just 30 percent of kids currently covered by IDEA are estimated to have severe disabilities.) Moreover, today's special ed regime serves to hold capable kids to lower standards, costs a lot of money, and encourages schools to give extra attention only to kids with diagnosed disabilities, which can mean less attention for others. Besides all that, the bureaucracy that has sprung up around IDEA has become overwhelming, as has the litigation, which further serves to pit parents against schools. Powerful stuff.
The Education Gadfly