Future Reflections Fall 2000, Vol. 19 No. 4
A few generations ago the choices about where a child would be educated were simple and relatively uncomplicated; the child would either attend a school for the blind, or he/she would stay home and not be educated at all. Today there are many more options. In fact, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that the public agency offer a continuum of alternative placements to meet the needs of children who are disabled [§300.552(c)].
Five typical options for blind students are 1. the residential school for the blind, 2. a private or public special education day school, 3. special education classes located in a public school, 4. a public school with a resource room for the visually impaired, and 5. the local public school with the services of an itinerant teacher of the visually impaired. Even among these options many variations are possible. For example, a student may spend half-days in the local public school and half-days in the school for the blind. The student might be bused to a neighboring public school district that can provide the services the local school cannot.
Then, there are the less common options of a private school or homeschooling. Although parents are not usually entitled to services from the public school if they choose one of these two options, a number of families elect to go this route anyway.
To further complicate the process many families discover that no one option is best for their child throughout the child’s school years. Since the law provides that IEP’s must be reviewed annually, placements are never set in stone and can be revisited every year (or more often) if need be.
With all these possibilities, how do parents decide what is best for their child and their family? In this issue, parents Barbara Matthews (“Kyra’s Kindergarten Year”), Pauletta Feldman, and Mary Ann Reynolds (“A Tale of Two Children”) talk about the choices they made and why. Although these parents chose different paths, there are common threads that run through each story. I think readers will find these articles instructive, useful, encouraging, and, yes, comforting—there are others out there who do understand what you are going through!
Barbara Cheadle, Editor