Thursday, February 5, 2009

Special Ed: Part 1 of Many

I was able to volunteer at one of the Disability Awareness Workshops, which are coming to about 2/3 of the elementary schools in the district. The activities were very interesting, and my son keeps bringing up tidbits that he learned. A lot of the parents (mostly moms) who were volunteering have a child with a disability; and most of the rest had some other kind of connection (in my group of volunteers, there were two physical therapists, for instance). The Center for Independent Living also provided help and volunteers. Thank you to all of you who have worked on organizing the activities--it's a worthwhile project.

It made me even more curious about special education in the district. Friends tell me that Michigan is way behind in service provision compared to some of the states on the east and west coasts.

The first place I turned was the AAPS web site, which as you know I find extremely lacking. I couldn't find special education! (You would think there would be something under the "For Parents" section.) A web site search also didn't turn up what I wanted (an overview of special education in the district), but I did end up finding out a very interesting fact. There are over 2000 students in the district with IEPs (Individualized Education Program). That's about 1 in 8 students. We all know kids who have IEPs, although we might not know that they do. (It might be easy to identify the child with Down's Syndrome in your child's class, but not the child with dyslexia.) I also found the link to the Ann Arbor Parent Advisory Committee, apparently open to all. The committee is also asking parents of students who have IEPs or 504 plans (another special education plan) to fill out a survey. (The instructions look kind of complicated, but I think it's not really that hard to do).

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