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Scot Danforth, a member of the School of Education of the University of Missouri–St. Louis, argues that America's trust in science has led to the creation of an array of artificial terms, such as mental retardation, that devalue individuals, have no basis in reality, and blunt the voices of those to whom they are applied. James M. Kauffman, a professor of education at the University of Virginia, cautions readers not to be overly distracted by criticism and asserts that special education is a relavtively young profession that uses accepted research practices and self-reflection to generate reliable common knowledge of effective instructional strategies for students with disabilities who were previously excluded from schools.
M. Suzanne Donovan and Christopher Cross, researchers representing the findings of a National Research Council study on minority students in special and gifted education, believe overrepresentation issues are complex and not easily resolvable. While teachers can make a difference, environmental factors and poverty have a large impact and require interventions beyond schools. Daniel J. Losen and Gary Orfield, both policy experts, present the results of research commissioned by the Civil Rights Project of Harvard University. While agreeing with some of the NRC recommendations, these findings suggest that patterns will change with stricter enforcement of federal and state regulations.
Teresa S. Jordan, an associate professor at the University of Las Vegas-Nevada; Carolyn A. Weiner, president of Syndactics, Inc.; and K. Forbis Jordan, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University, contend that the number of students identified as disabled is increasing at an excessive rate because of funding systems that encourage overidentification and discourage flexible, creative, inclusive school programming. Sheldon Berman, a school superintendent, and his colleagues maintain that districts have been careful and conservative in identifying children with disabilities but that enrollment and costs are increasing primarily because of the increased numbers of children with more significant disabilities.
Lewis M. Andrews, executive director for the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, reviewing the experiences of a number of countries with considerable school choice experience, maintains that children with disabilities will find unexpected opportunities in choice-sponsored schools. Barbara Miner, a freelance writer and former managing editor of Rethinking Schools, exploring experiences with the pioneering Milwaukee voucher system, discusses exclusionary policies and practices that limit access for students with disabilities.
Hill M. Walker and Jeffrey R. Sprague, educational researchers at the University of Oregon's Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior, describe the path that leads from exposure to risk factors to destrcutive outcomes. They argue that soicety must recommit itself to raising children safely, and they advocate strong collaborative arrangements between schools, families, and communities. James M. Kauffman, a professor of education at the University of Virginia, states that experts know what needs to be done to prevent emotional and behavioral disorders but that society as a whole has invented many reasons not to make prevention a reality.
Kay S. Hymowitz, a regular contributing editor to The City Journal (published by The Manhattan Institute), cites inclusive educational programming for students with disabilities and the legal limitations of IDEA97 as primary contributors to the destruction of effective discipline in today's schools. James A. Taylor and Richard A. Baker, Jr., president and vice-president of Edleaders.com, respectively, believe that school administrators who design and implement an effective disciplinary code that applies to all students, including those with disabilities, can create a more orderly environment for everyone.
The National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency dedicated to promoting policies, programs, practices, and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity and empowerment for all individuals with disabilities, found that all 50 U.S. states are out of compliance with special education law, a condition that the council argues must be remedied by increased federal attention. Frederick M. Hess, an assistant professor of education and government, and Frederick J. Brigham, an assistant professor of education, both at the University of Virginia, maintain that increased federal monitoring will only deepen the separation between general and special education, drawing resources away from true educational excellence for all.
U.S. Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority of the Court, affirms the "bright line test," establishing that shcool districts are required by IDEA to provide one-on-one nursing services and any other health-related services that can be delivered by individuals other than a licensed physician. U.S. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, representing the dissenting minority opinion, asserts that continuous one-on-one nursing services for disabled children are indeed medical and, as such, beyond the scope of congressional intent in IDEA. He concludes that such services are not the responsibility of special education programs within school districts.
Dorothy Kerzner Lipsky, director of the National Center on Educational Restructuring and Inclusion at the City University of New York, and professor of educational psychology Alan Gartner emphasize that IDEA97 supports inclusion as the best way to educate students with disabilities and discuss the ingredients that contribute to successful inclusionary practices. Daniel P. Hallahan, a professor of education at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, fears that students with disabilities will lose access to necessary, specially designed instruction in the inclusionary rush to return them to the very classrooms in which they experienced failure.
Susan Shapiro-Barnard and her colleagues in the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire affirm the positive outcomes of full inclusion at the high school level for students with significant cognitive disabilites. Public school administrators Gary M. Chesley and Paul D. Calaluce, Jr., express their concern that full inclusion of students with significant cognitive disabilities does not provide appropriate preparation for successful life following school.
Harlan Lane, a faculty member at Northeastern University, Robert Hoffmeister, director of the Deaf Studies Program at Boston University; and Ben Bahan, a deaf scholar in American Sign Language linguistics, value residential schools as rich cultural resources that enable Deaf children to participate fully in the educational experience. Tom Bertling, who acquired a severe hearing loss at age 5 and attended a residential school for the deaf after third grade, favors the use of sign language in social situations but views residential schools as segregated enclaves designed to preserve the Deaf culture rather than to develop adults who can contribute fully to society.
Rex Knowles, a retired college professor, and Trudy Knowles, an assistant professor of elementary education, argue that federal mandates for all students to master the same curriculum fail to consider students' individual differences and needs. Jerry Jesness, a special education teacher, stresses that students who complete school without learning the basics will be ill-equipped to succeed as adults and that any program that avoids teaching these essentials fails to address the long-term needs of students.
Michael F. Giangreco, a research associate professor specializing in inclusive education, and his colleagues assert that untrained teacher assistants spend too much time closely attached to individual students, often hindering the involvement of certified teachers and nondisabled peers. Susan Unok Marks, Carl Schrader, and Mark Levine, of the Behavioral Counseling and Research Center in San Rafael, California, find that professionally trained classroom teachers are often less prepared than some assistants to work with children in inclusive settings and that, unprepared to supervise assistants, they use this lack of knowledge to avoid teaching children with disabilities.
Sally and Bennett Shaywitz, codirectors of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development-Yale Center for the Study of Learning and Attention, and Yale University professors, summarize their recent research findings suggesting that advances in medicine, together with reading research, can virtually eliminate reading disabilities. Gerald Coles, an educational psychologist and former member of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, contests the claim that neurological procedures can identify reading disabilities and identify the methods to help children read.
Arthur Allen, reporter for The Washington Post, believes ADHD exists, but thinks too many children are given this diagnosis, masking other conditions (or simply normal behavior), and resulting in the prescribing of drugs that do more harm than good. Dr. Russell Barkley, director of psychology and a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, addresses several current beliefs about ADHD and maintains it is, in fact, under-diagnosed and undertreated in today's children.
Lawrence H. Diller, a pediatrician and family therapist, assserts that the use of stimulants on children has risen to epidemic proportions, occasioned by competitive social pressures for ever more effective functioning in school and at work. Larry S. Goldman, a faculty member of the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago, and his colleagues review 20 years of medical literature regarding the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and the use of stimulants. They conclude that the condition is not being overdiagnosed or misdiagnosed and that medications are not being overprescribed or overused.
Thomas Balkany, Annelle V. Hodges, and Kenneth W. Goodman, of the University of Miami, argue that the Deaf community actively works to disuade families from choosing cochlear implants for their children, prefering to have the decision made by Deaf individuals as a way to perpetuate the existence of a separate culture. The authors maintain that parents must decide whether or not their children receive cochlear implants, based on each child's best interest. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), an education and advocacy organization committed to supporting the deaf and the hard of hearing, uses its updated position paper on cochlear implants to express concern that medical professionals will dissuade parents from considering the positive benefits of the Deaf community and choose, instead, a medical procedure that is not yet proven.
James M. Kauffman, a faculty member at the University of Virginia, along with Kathleen McGee and Michele Brigham, both special education teachers, maintains that special education has pursued its goal of normalization to an extreme. The emphasis has shifted from increasing competence to perpetuating disabilities through the unwise use of accomodations. MaryAnn Byrnes, a University of Massachusetts–Boston faculty member, former special education administrator, and editor of this Taking Sides, argues that relevant accommodations are necessary to ensure that people with disabilities have a fair chance to demonstrate what they know and can do.
Martha L. Thurlow, director of the National Center on Educational Outcomes, and David R. Johnson, director of the Institute on Community Integration, both at the University of Minnesota, assert that high-stakes testing may hold many benefits for students with disabilities, especially if the tests are carefully designed and implemented. Pixie J. Holbrook, a special education teacher and consultant, maintins that high-stakes testing marks children with disabilities as worthless failures, ignores their accomplishments and positive attributes, and seriously limits their range of possibilities in adult life.