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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 6, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Special ed in schools

State has a lot of work to do

I applaud the state Office of Public Instruction’s move to hold Seattle Public Schools responsible for its lack of accountability and effectiveness in educating students with special needs [“State instructs Seattle schools to fix problems in its special ed,” page one, June 2].

I agree with Doug Gill, the state’s special-education director, that “this isn’t just fixing a couple of files, it’s fixing the entire system so it is more uniform, so it is more responsive to the needs of kids.”

But I doubt the state’s resolve. The Legislature passed SB 5237, which may force third-graders to repeat the grade if they do not meet state reading standards.

It provides no mandate for improving instruction, nor does it give specific guidelines for matching methods of instruction with different disabilities.

Seattle Public Schools says one in seven students receives special education for disabilities from autism to deafness. National Centers for Health (NCH) states that one in five students suffers from dyslexia and related learning difficulties alone. Neither the district nor the state addresses this discrepancy.

Fifty percent of all students in Finland’s world-leading educational system receive special education. This has erased the negative stigma of special education and demonstrates egalitarianism and equal access to education. These are standards we are far from achieving.

The NCH states upward of 90 percent of our prisoners are illiterate. The majority are dyslexic or have related problems. Failing to teach our students creates high dropout rates and delinquency leading to criminality.

Dane Jensen, Seattle

Comments | More in Education | Topics: education, Seattle Public Schools, special education

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