Education is a life-long process for individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Educational systems and programs must value all individuals and their families including them in all aspects of education. The following guiding principles will significantly and positively enhance the education of individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities as well as all other individuals.
It is The Arc New York’s position that:
- The legal rights of students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities are protected and enhanced when educational systems comply fully with the spirit and intent of the Federal law IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and State Education Department regulations.
- State and federal governments must conduct effective monitoring of IDEA. Technical assistance and, when necessary, sanctions are used by federal and state governments to ensure compliance by state and local education agencies.
- Appropriate resources must be made available so that with proper supports students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities have the opportunity to be educated within their own neighborhood school where their friends and siblings are educated.
- Students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities must be educated with appropriate supports and services in the least restrictive environment.
- Restraints, seclusion and isolation are not acceptable substitutes for positive behavioral supports for students who experience challenging behaviors. Challenging behaviors can be reduced or eliminated when properly applied positive approaches are used to influence long-term behavior change and eliminate the use of physical interventions.
- Children with intellectual and other developmental disabilities (including Early Intervention 0-3, Preschool 3-5) must be provided, from birth, with free and appropriate services, which address their individual needs in natural and least restrictive environments.
- The efficacy of preschool intervention to enhance the lives of children with disabilities has been repeatedly confirmed by studies. Preschools are facing a deteriorating situation that threatens preschool closings and systemic collapse. Despite rising costs, preschools have not received a funding growth factor for over 6 years. Furthermore, the rate methodology used to reimburse 4410 preschools only pays 94 percent of allowable costs, and far less than actual costs. Chapter 4410 preschools need a commitment from New York state to provide adequate funding so that some of New York’s most at-risk children are provided a chance for a life of independence and fulfillment.
- Individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and their families must have access to advocacy support and services. Families must receive training and guidance from local, regional and state-wide advocacy networks to become effective advocates for children within the educational system.
- Schools and providers must give parents of children in transition (from early intervention to preschool to school-age to post-secondary) information and the necessary supports to ensure a timely, seamless transition.
- There is a significant shortage of certified special education teachers and related personnel such as physical therapists, speech and language therapists. Special education programs must be fully funded by the Federal Government and New York State to correct these shortages. Certification requirements for general and special education teachers at preschool, elementary and secondary levels must require teachers to demonstrate ability to work with students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
- Students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and their parents or guardians must be part of the decision-making process regarding educational placement and programming.
- Local The Arc New York Chapters form strong partnerships with local school systems and other governmental agencies must provide an appropriate person-centered transition to the adult world for students who are graduating from special education programs.
- A disabilities history curriculum promoting the understanding, acceptance and contributions of people with disabilities must be implemented in K-12 general education.
- Individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities have a right to life-long learning including academic and personal enrichment classes. Individuals should be encouraged to pursue educational opportunities as adults including, but not limited to, post-secondary programs, non-credit and for-credit courses online, and classes at local institutions including community colleges. Individuals who choose these educational options have a right to appropriate supports.