wrote about proposed changes to the special education system in New York City. Now that the school year has begun, these changes are being put into place in 265 "Phase One" schools throughout the city. Parents in these schools have already received communications advising that their school will be implementing changes. The Arise Coalition, a group of public interest organizations and nonprofits which focus their work on special education issues in New York City, spearheaded by the terrific organization Advocates for Children , has been carefully monitoring these changes to determine how they may impact the children who are affected by them.
So, what do these changes include? They do not include any changes to the rights of students entitled to special education services to receive a free, appropriate public education as they are entitled to by law. You can see the document which outlines the philosophy which New York City is using as the basis for this new approach. These changes are in keeping with a statements by Congress in the preface to the 2004 revisions to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that "special education [should] become a service for such children rather than a place where such children are sent." and that schools should provide special education, services and supports in the regular classroom "whenever appropriate."
The key question is whether the changes being made in New York City will benefit the children they are intended to serve. Now that they are being put into place, we will continue to monitor the impact on the students of New York.