Educators have long documented that students with disabilities face disadvantages in the acquisition of critical thinking, writing, and oral communication skills. While non-disabled adolescents participate in numerous summer educational programs, students with disabilities are frequently isolated, leading to a lack of self-esteem and experience that can assure success in higher education.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network of Northern Virginia makes the case for easy to find information about access to higher education, health services, housing, and accommodations for people who are on the autism spectrum. Their recommendations are designed for legislators in Virginia yet the clarity of their recommendations speaks to best practices when it comes to including people with disabilities on the "map" of citizenship.
Their recommendations speak to a national problem, one that's replicated in all 50states. People with disabilities and their friends and families can't get access to information and networks that will assist them in their efforts to get an education, gain housing, or find a job.
Many people with disabilities who have managed to graduate from high school find its very difficult to locate transition programs designed to help you get a higher education.
They will discover all too often that applying to colleges and universities remains a crap shoot when it comes to accessing effective programs that really take disability seriously.
Here in Iowa City the local school system has seen a considerable influx of families who have moved here from Chicago, many of them looking for access to special education for their children. The Iowa City School District most likely would earn a C plus when it comes to adequately provisioning programs and services for students with learning disabilities. But that C plus is far better than the miserable climate for LD kids in Chicago.
President-elect Barack Obama's choice for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has a dreadful record when it comes to special education. The Justice For All carries the discouraging history of budget cuts and legal obstacles that Mr. Duncan presented to the special needs children of Chicago during his tenure as CEO of the Chicago Public School System.
As we enter the second decade of the 21st century students with disabilities of all kinds are in peril. Only 15 per cent of students with disabilities graduate from four year colleges. 70 per cent of pwds remain unemployed in the U.S.
Why would the CEO of the Chicago public schools cut the budgets for special education and then resist the justifiable legal action calling for the restoration of that funding?
Arne Duncan wanted "top end" results. The American predilection for the quick fix is ingrained in every facet of our social lives from the auto companies in Detroit to Wall Street to your local school board.
Arne Duncan was able to improve reading and math scores in Chicago while slashing services for the children most in need.
When his selection as Secretary of Education was announced pundits on the TV networks sagely confirmed the wisdom of the choice. He got the reading scores up and he managed his budget.
The only trouble? He didn't manage all our children's futures.
People have migrated to Iowa City hoping desperately that they'll get a new deal.