Journal Review: Will Parents of Special Needs Children Endorse Reform in Special Ed?

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People inside and out of education are wondering if money from the federal government will truly solve special education's problems. Critics of this area believe that the important aspects of special education need to be reconsidered and it may pose a challenge to open their concerns to the public. To give light to this discussion and learn more from the experienced families the Public Agenda surveyed 510 parents of special needs children enrolled in public schools. A majority of these parents believe that children who misbehave are sometimes misdirected into special education, and most say that better programs, rather than money would benefit and improve the special education programs. It is interesting that critics, parents, and other educators often focus on the identification process as a troublesome problem, and sometimes a child's needs bears a second look. One key message from this research is that parents enter these discussions with different mindset from that of others who believe special education needs reform.

Most parents are not looking at long-term financial budgets. There is really no evidence that from this survey that special education parents are calling out for fundamental reforms. For these parents, as for all parents, the ultimate question is whether their own child is treated well and making progress. A disaffected minority of parents are extremely frustrated about their experiences with special education. Whether these parents will see the reformers as fighting for them or against them is an open question.


Dierksen, Carolyn N., "Will Parents of Special Needs Children Endorse Reform in

Special Ed?," Kappan, Vol. 84, Number 2, October, 2005, 160-163.