US and Violating Special Education Rights: Florida Experience Vs Texas

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The U.S. Department of Education report on Texas is the current hot topic. What about the special needs education in other U.S. states? Learn about the special needs students experience in Florida.

The recent Texas findings of the U.S. Department of Education (Department) have caused a severe uproar. On January, 11th, the Department issued the monitoring report uncovering the Special Education Law violations by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The Texas officials have been urged ‘to develop a plan and timeline’ to resolve the crisis. Students with disabilities are to be identified and served according to the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

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Source: Unsplash

Special Education Accessibility: Problem Overview

Special education in the U.S. is regulated by a number of Federal Laws and State Laws. Despite massive legislative framework, the accessibility of special education services remains a problem. The investigations conducted in different states across the U.S. help in bringing the special needs students’ problems to light. The reason why this instance of the Federal Law violation has caused such an outrage is obvious. This is not an isolated incident, but a nationwide problem.

The school voucher programs turned out generally ineffective as a part of state regulation. The program participants didn’t show much academic performance improvement. As for the students with disabilities, in particular, states, choosing a school through the voucher system might put their rights at risk. Private schools cannot discriminate against the special needs students under the voucher program. However, the educational program and services are not due to any major change based on student peculiarities.

According to the Department report, back in 2004, the representation indicator in Texas for students with special needs was 8.5%. More than a decade later, the data received from TEA looks somewhat controversial. The statistics were collected between the 2003-2004 and 2016-2017 school years. It shows a general increase in enrollment by over a million students. At the same time, the number of special needs students has dropped by 32,000. This situation suggests, thousands of students with disabilities have been denied their right to receive a proper education.

Florida: The Special Education Realities

Florida Department of Education (FDE) offers a number of K-12 scholarship programs as part of special needs education system. One of the largest programs, the McKay Scholarship, foresees roughly $8.000 per student to fund annual private school attendance. The official enrollment accessibility data provided on the official FDE website shows that out of 2,447,026 students enrolled in 2017-2018, the number of special needs students is 385,154.

Betsy DeVos has dubbed Florida the state with ‘a variety of options [for special education students] for the longest period of time.’ Despite that, the quality of provided services still needs in-depth evaluation. The available Florida voucher system studies dating back to 2003 and 2007, are irrelevant.

The investigation by NPR has demonstrated two legal aspects of the problem: lack of rights and lack of funding. The families with special needs students interviewed for the story have revealed the ordeals they faced trying to get access education services. Having to transfer between schools in search of proper special education services is not the worst part.

Investigators claim that legal action taken by the families against school districts is lost in most cases. Creating public awareness of the problem can shed the light on the system’s injustice. Finding civilized solutions is the only way to ensure equal access to education. As for now, most Florida families with special needs students have to besiege the schools to enroll.

Special Education Infographics

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US and Violating Special Education Rights: Florida Experience Vs Texas
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US and Violating Special Education Rights: Florida Experience Vs Texas
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The U.S. Department of Education report on Texas is the current hot topic. What about the special needs education in other U.S. states? Learn about special needs students experience in Florida.
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