Does Special Education Teach Kids To Conform?

Soyoung Park, an assistant professor in equity and diversity in special education at the University of Texas at Austin, recently wrote in a piece that our Special Education system was an example of our country’s unhealthy obsession with conformity. She argues

Our education system is an enterprise designed to “fix” children who do not fit the norms of school. These norms are based on a white, middle class, able-bodied culture. Children learn from a very young age that if they are different — in their behavior, way of thinking, language, etc. — they will fail.

However, other leading experts in the field of Special Education counter her argument. In an article written by three special education professors: Andrew Wiley, an associate professor of special education at Kent State University; Dimitris Anastasiou, an associate professor of special education at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale; and Jim Kauffman, professor emeritus in special education at the University of Virginia.

In their article, they argue that Park mispresents the purpose and function of special need education. The main purpose of special education, which is mandated through the federal law known as the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA Act) is to maximize learning for students with disabilities. The three experts go on to say that learning to read from left to right does not mean that they are forcing students to conform or that they do not believe in diversity.

They continue to argue that special education does promote diversity because it promotes instruction and other services catered to the individuals learning differences. They continue

he idea that special education is “designed” to punish or stigmatize difference. Such a claim does a major disservice to generations of stakeholders who have fought for the civil rights of students with disabilities. Pointing out instances of special education practiced badly is one thing; condemning the whole endeavor is quite another.

As people who suppose Free Appropriate Public Education, do you agree with Parks or Wiley, Anastasiou, and Kauffman? It doesn’t take a Houston criminal defense law firm to understand that without special education that many students would not get the services and programs that they need in order to get a proper education. As presented on this site, there are so many different kinds of disabilities that making the disables an already diverse group of people. In our opinion, is no way teaching them to read and write forcing them to conform to society.