Often, children with learning difficulties or impairments in their functioning struggle with their education. Not only is education to them tough but also tough to cope with when it is available to them. Special education laws protect the rights of students with learning difficulties and provide them with the support, services, accommodations, and needs that they require. They hold a considerable amount of significance in the lives of these students and are essential for them to procure.
Many laws have been passed by the government that protects the rights of the students to access services, facilities, accommodations, and adjustments they are eligible for to fulfill their needs and help them attain equal educational opportunities. These laws are necessary as they are sources of obligation and compliance from schools and other authorities required to cater to the needs of children with disabilities.
What are the laws around special education?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there are about seven million students across age groups 3 to 21 receiving special education services in the U.S. These special education services stem from the laws that have been passed by the government which make it easier for each child to receive the education they deserve despite their difficulties. These laws are discussed below.
1. The Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
The Individual with Disabilities Education Act was originally known as Handicapped Children Act which was passed in 1975. Later on, Congress passed amendments to the law in 1990 and the most recent reauthorization took place in 2004. According to this Act, all children are entitled to a “free and appropriate public education”. In addition to that, students with disabilities should be provided education in the least restrictive environment. Every child eligible for receiving special education services must be provided with an IEP.
2. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act 1973
This Act is a part of a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination against children with learning difficulties. It provides for the creation of support and accommodation for children with disabilities through adjustments and modifications to educational programs in schools and classrooms.
3. The American with Disabilities Act 1990 (ADA)
This act is another civil rights law that covers all people with disabilities and not just school-aged children. Although this act targets discrimination, it focuses on the inclusion of people and their participation in communities. Relating to employment and working for the protection of both employees and job seekers, the ADA prohibits private employers, and state and employment agencies from firing individuals with disabilities. Moreover, it also enforces certain regulations that prohibit discrimination in the workplace against such individuals.
4. Family and Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA)
The FERPA protects the rights of children and parents to procure proper services from schools and other educational authorities. It also protects privacy by taking written consent in order to share information about the child’s educational records and history. The act enables parents to have access to the child’s academic records and have them rectified if needed.
5. The Assistive Technology Act
Initially passed in 1998 and reauthorized in 2004, this act delivers funding for technology that aids people with disabilities to get equal access to education, career, and other opportunities as their other peers. Technologies that may support learning difficulties could include large-format computer keyboards, voice recognition software, voice amplifiers, hearing aids, magnification devices, reaching devices, walkers, medical equipment, adaptive sports gear, and more.
6. Every Student Succeeds Act
This Act is for all public education directed towards the goal of ensuring equal opportunities to all students. One major part of the Act focuses on evaluating schools on their efficiency to provide special education services and fulfilling their obligations to support students with special needs.
7. The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA)
The EHA requires that all public schools that are supplied with federal funds must provide equal access to education for children with any kind of disabilities. This Act paved the way for special education and the services that come along with it when it was originally passed in 1975. Presently the law requires compliance from states to receive federal funds and grants for special education.
8. No Child Left Behind
The No Child Left Behind Act, published in 2001 calls for schools to be accountable for the academic performance of all students with or without any kind of difficulties. It requires schools in every state to develop a routine cycle of assessments of students’ academic skills. In addition to that, the act also provides incentives for schools to demonstrate progress in students with special needs and allows students to seek alternative or vocational options if schools are not meeting their academic, social, or emotional needs.
Need for such laws
Firstly, official laws are required to maintain the seriousness of issues and their interventions in every nation. They direct the authorities and pave the way for them to take active and appropriate action towards the problem at hand. They make sure that the solemnity of the agenda which is equal education is nurtured and are jurisdiction to ensure that.
Many children struggle to receive education and developing a disability is another hurdle in their journey. Schools often require legal and official documents from children to prove the disabilities that make them eligible for special services. In such cases, laws are required to outline standard rules and criteria that can be followed by all schools and students, landing them on the same page.
Most importantly, laws preserve the rights of students and their families and further help integrate students with special needs into society. They not only ensure that education is accessible to them but also that accommodations, assistance, and special education are provided to them for them to learn and grow despite the difficulties they face.
Children with special needs require special education and services to procure education and then cope with it. This has been recognized by the government as vital and it has laid down specific laws that ensure the preservation of these needs and rights. These laws protect the needs and rights of children with disabilities. They enable children to access special services, accommodations, and support in classrooms and schools, nurturing their learning process and alleviating their success. Laws that emphasize special education are necessary for every community and must be implied for the fruitful education of all children.