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Reforming special education: time for a change in the law?

A tapestry made by Australian special education students.
A tapestry made by Australian special education students.

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The effectiveness of a 1975 law designed to provide "free, appropriate public education" to students with certain disabilities is being called into question.

The Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act covers over 6 million children with special educational needs due to physical, mental or emotional disabilities. In a recent article, Special Education reformer, Miriam Freedman argues that the 37-year-old act should be changed, as it fails to serve the purposes of special education students, pits parents against schools in lengthy lawsuits and is costly; up to 20 percent of school budgets.

Are you the parent of a child with special educational needs? What are your feelings about significant revisions to the Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act? Are there other ways to get the education your child needs without resorting to lawsuits? Perhaps you are a teacher: do you hold back on advocating on behalf of your students for fear of legal action?


Miriam Freedman, author of “Fixing Special Education: 12 Steps to Fixing a Broken System.” She wrote a recent article in The Atlantic on Special Education Reform

Richard Peterson, Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the Special Education Advocacy Clinic at Pepperdine Law School