Free Appropriate Public Education?

On this entry I first want to address something a good friend said about my first entry. He commented that my first entry was opinionated which I concede is most certainly the case. Having said that I would most certainly like to encourage your comments of my opinions. Please see my second post and the disclaimer. Again, social intercourse is almost as good as that other kind of intercourse but a lot less sticky, sweaty and tiring! On to education.

I read an article in Time a few months ago that I haven’t been able to get out of my head, especially since I see evidence of it everyday in the schools that I have the pleasure of serving. That is the taking too far of the term “Free Appropriate Public Education” or FAPE as a college professor called it. The law that enacted FAPE, Public Law 102-119, known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states that all children with disabilities are entitled to an appropriate education in public schools. (For further details see

In theory this is a great idea, all children deserve the same opportunities regardless of their abilities. Where I see this going wrong is when children who are profoundly mentally disabled are allowed to sit in a regular classroom, in some case, disrupting other students. In my opinion if a child needs a constant nurses attention, needs regular diaper changes and drool wipes and cannot contribute to their own education, let alone comprehend the lessons, maybe they don’t belong in a regular classroom.

The aforementioned Time (1) article was about a family in Colorado whose son is autistic. This son was not getting an education because of his behavior in the regular classroom so the family sued the school district citing the IDEA concept of FAPE. They asked the school district to pay for a special boarding school in Boston that caters specifically to autistic students. The article stated that this would cost the district upwards of $150,000 per year, not to mention the already accrued legal fees. To me this is NOT right. We taxpayers shouldn’t have to provide special buses, nurses and constant aides for students who will likely not benefit from being in the classroom, and certainly not send them off to renowned schools halfway across the country.

On the flip side, I have encountered students who are mentally entirely capable of benefiting and contributing to a regular classroom, they just have some physical limitations that require extra help. I am NOT opposed to this, they can help other students learn more that just math and reading, their peers can learn tolerance and acceptance which is as valuable lesson as any other.

Again, comments are strongly encouraged!

Ed U. Cayshun

Rawe, Julie. “Who Pays for Special Education.” Time 168.13 (Sept 25, 2006): p62. From InfoTrac OneFile.

1 comment:

Michele said...

I agree. And I am a mother of a mildly autistic daughter. She is better off homeschooled than handcuffed and baby-sat in public school. Public school is great for typically developing children, but some kids need their mothers.