This summer the Justice Department accused Georgia of segregating students in special education into schools with fewer or non-existent resources. More specifically, Georgia was accused of segregating students who have emotional/ behavioral disorders. While I could feign shock and surprise, this isn’t a problem exclusive to Georgia. This is a nationwide issue. It’s an issue happening in the state where I pay taxes and in school systems where I’ve worked. Students with behavior disorders are often placed in a more restrictive environments based on their challenges in the general education or even in public school special education placements. Those more restrictive programs, in my experience, are not equal to the educational experiences of non-disabled peers. Not even close.
While we’ve come a long way with our inclusionary practices, we haven’t figured it all out yet. We haven’t even hit the tip of the iceberg with managing resources for special education, providing the necessary professional development and training for all educators, or developing a strong understanding of the complicated children we lump under federal disability categories. We do a lot of things right in special education but there is also a lot of room for improvement. I’m a bit excited to see what comes out of the situation in Georgia and to see if a ripple effect across the nation will indeed occur. In my humble opinion, it certainly needs to happen.