The National Education Association supports a free, appropriate public education for all students with disabilities in a least restrictive environment, which is determined by maximum teacher and parent/guardian involvement. There must also be a full continuum of placement options, services, and delivery models available to students with disabilities.
Over the past 10 years, the number of U.S. students enrolled in special education programs has risen 30 percent. Three out of every four students with disabilities spend part or all of their school day in a general education classroom. In turn, nearly every general education classroom across the country includes students with disabilities. Each school and school district must determine the best way to conduct programs and figure out how to pay for them.
As the nation's parents, citizens, educators and elected officials tackle the problems facing special education, NEA urges everyone to acknowledge our successes. Local public schools are now educating millions of disabled children, and a growing number of them are graduating from high school. Only three decades ago, these same children would have been isolated in separate institutions or simply kept at home, with little or no chance of ever becoming independent, productive, taxpaying citizens.