DAA News Network

USA: New York City to mainstream more disabled students

Posted 04/5-10 at 11.39

By 2011 all of New York City's 1500 schools will be expected to enrol all but the most severely disabled students. This is being done to bring the city in line with national trend of mainstreaming and also because of the spiralling cost of ‘special education'. For example, students classified as having special educational needs have risen from 13% of total numbers in 2003 to 17% in 2010, at a cost of $4.8 billion.

Experts don't know what has caused the increase. Some say it has been the better identification of students with learning difficulties, particularly autism and/or parents being less reluctant to see their children identified as disabled. There is also the possibility that more children might actually have difficulties.

However, some, especially those with an interest in maintaining special education, doubt whether this new policy will work because most schools have little experience working with disabled students and teachers will need specialist training. This in turn will be made more difficult to fund as the school system faces stringent budget cuts.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/29/education/29schools.html?pagewanted=1&ref=ge&src=me

Editorial comment: Although this reports begs a number of key questions, such as exactly what ‘severely disabled' means and how resources are going to be transferred from special to mainstream schools, nonetheless, at least it signals a commitment to greater educational inclusivity. This is more than can be said for the UK, with the Conservatives wanting to bolster special schools and the Labour Party having opted out of the article (24) of the UN Convention, that calls for states to adopt inclusive education policies.

See http://www.daa.org.uk/index.php?mact=Blogs,cntnt01,showentry,0&cntnt01entryid=145&cntnt01returnid=98 for UK report.

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