Can Special Education Negatively Enable People?

Question:First off, I have a background in special education having taught moderately, severely, and profoundly retarded adults and adolescents at my previous teaching position,. Therefore, I am not unsympathic to the struggles and challenges the folks like this face.

However, I am presently teaching adult male minimum and medium security inmates whose reading range from nonreading to 6th grade levels. Many of them come from special education backgrounds.Those who are under 22 still are entitled to special education services and IEPs. I provide accomodations in my classroom when appropriate.

What I have found in the 11 years I've taught in the prison, that many of my students use "special ed" as an excuse not to even try to improve themselves. They claim "I can't learn" or "I can't work" or "I had to turn to crime" because "I'm Special Ed". A significant number of them had been receiving SSI and think that education or training will prevent them from receiving assistance.

I would first like to thank most of the special education teachers for being, in my opinion, the best educators in our schools since they try to educate in various modes to address various learning styles.

In considering whether the accommodations given to a special needs individual enables that person negatively, I would remind all that accomodations are supposed to "level out" the learning field for the student so they can "compete educationally" in our public school setting. An example of this can be seen in the use of "redirection and focusing" for an ADD/ADHD student. These accommodations were never instituted to be used as an excuse or to be put in place in the "real world" situation that we all must function as adults.

We must celebrate every individual's multiple intelligence realizing that there is no one way to learn or be considered bright. We must help special education students to develop the necessary skills, coping mechanisms, and self-advocacy traits necessary for any adult to be a productive member of society. "Special Education" should not be used as a "crutch" or reason for breaking the law.

So, do the modifications "enable" people? . only if we foster the belief that we are "crippled" for life without any "locus of control" to take charge of our own destiney and become good citizens of society.

My conclusion is: special education only enables people if we allow people to think they are entitled to a "level learning environment" throughout their productive years as an adult.
Yes it does. People that are put in special education usually have problems for life, it is because of the mindset that special ed. classes put the children in. First of all, many children in special ed. are just as capable as regular ed. students, yet special ed. does not even scratch a regular school students curriculum, which is wrong! I know many children that were in special ed. that are now grown, they still seem as if they take a certain "mindset" as if they can not do, as if they are not important beings to the world; that is sad. Special education ruin childrens lives from an early age, even students that really need to be in special ed, get cheated out of a normal life. I have seen that the students can not read as you said, it is so, so, so sad to see a grown man not even be able to read one sentence alone, by himself,without any help, it is sad. I don't know who to fault-teachers, parents, school board, etc. I really think that something should be done about this problem. I feel bad for many of the kids that came up through a special ed. system, I have even seen it to run in families. The check, another thing that you mentioned, is why I say that I blame parents! In many situations parents put children in special ed. just for the money,sad, but very true. The people really need the money once they get grown, because they usually can not get jobs. But when they are children they should be taught that education is key, not being in special ed. for a check. And when parents sit there and say that their kids are slow or just not like other children, that is discouraging because kids listen to that and take it in. People like you are working to help people out that have been put in that system of special ed. I may even get a job similar to yours, because this is something that my family and I have been discussing for years-how special education breaks kids and sets them up for a future of failure. This does not happen in all cases, but for all that I have seen and know about, this is what happened. I can only pray for more and better-a change in the future for this system.
I mostly agree with you. In many situations special educated people use this as an excuse not to try to improve themselves. I do have many students showing that behaviour. I think that we must give them education in real life and teach them social skills, such as internal locus of control etc. I keep telling them that learning is something that it's not only helpful to them (like reading etc.), but it can be fun too ( for example, when they can read their favourite comic book).
The concept and structure of special ed do not foster "enabling". Special education is a place put aside for special needs kids that aren't at the same developmental level of the other kids their age. IQ is irrelevant.
I do know from experience that many children have been segregated from regular ed for other reasons. I knew a girl from Illinois that said all of the black kids in town were put in special ed. period, no exceptions. This was so that the school could legally segregate.
Technically speaking, each child with an IEP should have a legally binding plan that explains his/her goals and how he/she will meet them. These are not for enabling but empowering. There are other factors figuring in when a child learns to stay disinterested in work and school. I would not blame Special Education.
You are seeing kids and young adults who have various problems working against them. Serious abuse, neglect, segregation and overpowering priority for street smarts versus school smarts.
Parents need to know what is going on in their kids' school programs and be actively helping their kids. I've walked in a special ed classroom to see aides shouting at kids that have speech and language deficits. I have seen teachers playing nursery rhymes and reading board books to 8 year olds that belong in a regular classroom. What are their parents doing? Why aren't they outraged?!
My son is autistic and requires enrolling in special ed classroom so that he can stay in a regular class. He needs accomodations for his language deficits, sensory integration disorder and overall developmental delay. But he is above grade level in academics, with help he excells, he works hard.
While it is statistically true that a majority of people in prison have "special educational needs" of some sort, I agree that this is too often used as an excuse. There are many people out there who also have learning problems but have decided to make good choices and make a good living anyway. I am a special education teacher, and I have had more than one experience in which I urgently needed a service (specifically car repairs and plumbing) and the service technician who rescued me from a minor disaster was a former special education student. Several times, the technician made significantly more money than I do. And I won't argue that I deserve more - I have more formal education, by far, but these skilled people came when I needed them and solved my problems so I could move on. So more power to them for building on their strengths and not using their weaknesses as an excuse.

So I completely agree with your premise that special education status can give some people an excuse for the bad choices they made. (That's a large part of the reason that I work with my special education students, who are ages 5 to 8, on the concept of personal responsibility - of taking pride in working hard and achieving a goal, and of accepting the need to make amends when a poor choice has been made. I fervently hope that this will help at least some of my students avoid the fate of your current inmate/ students.)
As someone who was in special ed in school, I can honestly say "No."

Despite me being labeled "Special Ed" and "Retard" throughout school, I graduated from college, with a 3.82 GPA, where I earned a AAS Degree in Computer Engineering. I'm due to start Virginia Tech in August where I'm planning to earn duel degrees in Computer and Electrical Engineering. I might even go back to school and earn my Master's Degree just to prove that a learning disabled person has the ability to actually learn more than the proper way of scrubbing a sh*tty toilet.

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