Review of A Parents’ Guide To Special Education In New York City And The Metropolitan Area
A Parents’ Guide To Special Education In
New York City And The Metropolitan Area
by Laura Dubos and Jana Fromer
Teachers College Press, Teachers College,
Columbia University. New York and London: 2006. 195 pp
Here’s a volume that should be automatically given out to any parent who learns that his or her child has special needs.
This comprehensive, clearly organized and well-written book offers parents a one-step resource that will be invaluable as they navigate the sometimes Byzantine special education system.
The authors understand parents’ questions and concerns, and deftly provide a user-friendly framework to enable parents to get what they need for their child. The book is divided into four parts: the first offers an overview of special education in New York City; the second explains the process of applying to appropriate private schools; the third features profiles of 33 private special education schools in New York City and the surrounding suburbs, and the fourth is a comprehensive listing of resources, including testing and evaluation centers, medical specialists, therapists, after-school and even summer camps.
And such knowledge is especially critical—and needed. According to the authors, in 2005 there were 140, 650 children identified with disabilities in New York City, with more than half of them enrolled in the public school system. Since 1975, when Congress first passed the law requiring that all children receive a “free, appropriate public education,” concerns about how best to meet the needs of those in special education have informed the educational agenda.
In 1990, services were extended for the three-to-five-year-old population, with early intervention services mandated in 1997, at least in New York State, for the under-threes age group. For parents whose children have benefited from early intervention services, or have been enrolled in a pre-school special education program, it can sometimes be a rude awakening to realize that the transition to public school special education programs may not be automatic. Thanks to this book, parents will be better equipped to navigate meetings of the Committee on Pre-School Special Education and move on to the Regional Committee on Special Education. The authors are to be commended for their clear explanation of what these committees do, who sits on them, what rights and responsibilities parents’ have, and what the Individualized Education Program (IEP) is all about. And the chart, pp 26-27, is one of the best and most lucid descriptions of special education services that I’ve ever seen.
What’s also useful is their cogent explanation of what to do when the public schools can’t provide an appropriate education for a child, and what options are available.
This invaluable book should be available in every school as a ready resource to assist parents faced with the challenges of raising a special needs child.#