I consider the course Special Education Law and Ethical Responsibilities meaningful, interesting, and informative. Notably, I find it applicable and having a significant practical value. For example, numerous court cases discussed by Yell (2012), the author of the book The Law and Special Education, contain a wealth of valuable information that can be applied when questions about the education of children with disabilities arise. In addition, the course is of particular interest since it demonstrates the workings of the American legal system in regard to resolving special education issues. Prior to familiarizing myself with The Law and Special Education by Yell (2012), I had difficulties comprehending legalities of the educational process. However, the reading greatly enhanced my understanding of the legal side of special education, and weekly assignments helped to review the information and focus on the main themes of each chapter.
Regarding class materials, most of all I have been interested in the topics of the inclusion of students with disabilities in regular education, Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), and their transition. It seems that the knowledge of the aforementioned issues enables educators to facilitate the creation of an educational environment, whereby students with disabilities receive a good educational start in life, feel integrated in the community, and learn skills that help them make a successful transition to independent living. I would like to clarify why I consider the topic of providing education for students with disabilities as especially meaningful. I believe that I have special compassion on students with special needs. I cannot explain it but when I see a pupil with a disability, it evokes in me the desire to help that person, be of assistance, provide companionship, encouragement, and support. I know many students with exceptional needs. Within me, I feel a desire to help that person with a disability in some way. Perhaps, I cannot explain it eloquently, but the feeling is there. When I see students with disabilities, I would like to enhance their life and ease it.
Notably, the course has taught how to enhance lives of such students professionally and significantly. After completing it, I gained valuable awareness, expertise, and skills that can help students with disabilities. Prior to the course, I could help them by offering companionship, words of encouragement, and friendly treatment. However, now I feel that I have knowledge required to support such students. Presently, I can offer much more than encouragement and temporary assistance. I can change a life of a student with special needs by helping him or her to be integrated in the community and equipped with education. It will enable him or her to access opportunities that would not have been available without it. In other words, I have and can apply knowledge that can do much more for a student with special needs than periodic friendly support. I learned how to organize the academic process and facilitate transition services of students with disabilities in order to make a long-term positive change for years to come. Since good education is a foundation on which a person builds his or her life, providing an opportunity to receive sufficient education is a step in the direction of making a person integrated, fulfilled, and happy. Furthermore, helping a person with disabilities feel integrated enables him or her to differentiate success and failure in an effort to live independently. Therefore, during this course, I learned mechanisms and their application that will help to ensure that two basic needs of a student with disabilities such as education and socialization are met, his or her right to FAPE is not violated, and a student feels that he or she has equal opportunities in life.
In practical terms, I learned a number of useful things that will add value to my learning. Just a few of them are as follows. For example, I learned about the manifestation determination procedure and how to handle situations when a student with a disability demonstrates problematic behavior. In addition, I learned about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s “stay-put” provision that requires that a child with a disability involved in a judicial or administrative hearing must remain in the educational setting where he or she has been prior to the hearing to prevent disruptions and ensure continuity and stability of the academic process. Furthermore, I learned about accommodations, modifications, and alternate assessments and categories of students eligible for these services. Moreover, the course offered useful information about FAPE components and how to determine whether education provided at school is appropriate.
Studying numerous court decisions described by Yell (2012) taught me another thing. I realized that the academic process is nearly all about education and students, their parents, educators, and school authorities within the legal framework. Therefore, it is important to fill the legal framework of the academic process with the content that will make education of students with disabilities effective and relevant by coordinating efforts of educators and fostering active and meaningful parental involvement. Lastly, prior to the course, I had a misconception and thought that when solving issues between school and parents of children with disabilities, one should follow the law and consider interests of both sides. However, the course helped me gain a broader perspective examining the intent of the law, as well as reasoning behind its norms.
Therefore, I would like to conclude that I found the course Special Education Law and Ethical Responsibilities useful and of significant practical value. Moreover, the course made me reflect deeper on issues pertaining to the education of children with disabilities and helped realize that education and transition-related legal norms represent tools and mechanisms for creating educational opportunities and preparing students with disabilities for independent life.