Monday, June 22, 2009

Are Chicago Public Schools "Systematically" Denying Special Ed?

Kudos to Christina Samuels over at Education Week's special education blog for picking up on this story from Chicago. Christina and I have been examining Education Secretary Arne Duncan's past experience with special education -- to see what the future might hold -- and a recent article in the Chi-Town Daily News reports that some students with disabilities are being denied access to specialized help, and others are being barred from evaluations for special ed because it's too expensive to educate them. According to the Chi-Town article:

"Mary Ann Pollett, principal of Moses Montefiore Special Elementary School, testified before the City Council's Committee on Education and Child Development that officials have discouraged teachers at her school from reporting students' disabilities because it is too expensive to deal with them.

" 'They deny that that goes on, but it does,' Pollett said, with her superiors only a few yards away. 'Montefiore is only the tip of the iceberg. This goes deep into a systemic issue that needs to be addressed within the Chicago Public Schools.' "

Also at the meeting, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union released a survey showing that more than 70 percent of teachers and case managers believed students in their schools with emotional or behavioral problems were not receiving special education.

Is this Arne Duncan's special-ed legacy as head of Chicago schools? If so, what does that say for today's students across the country who need special services?
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