Special education: There's more to the story

  • Article by: SARAH BOGGESS
  • Updated: May 2, 2013 - 7:46 PM
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Counterpoint

My husband and I have four children. We are the involved parents of an 18-year-old with Down syndrome and ADHD, who has been in the Hopkins School District from fifth grade to the Transition Plus program today.

I am on our school district’s Special Education Advisory Committee and am the coordinator of the Hopkins Area Little League Challenger Division (a division for kids with disabilities). We are also the parents of three children without special needs, and are active with them also in their academics, music and sports.

I respect and value the coverage and attention the Star Tribune is giving to special education in its ongoing series of stories, and I recognize its importance. I also appreciate the explanation offered by editor Nancy Barnes in her April 28 column.

What disappoints and frustrates me is the lack of well-rounded coverage. The headlines shout “SPECIAL ED,” yet the reporting is only about those on the extreme ends of the spectrum. Their stories are important, but the newspaper is not telling the stories of the successful kids, families and programs not at the extremes.

Why are they less worthy of coverage? In this skewed presentation, the Star Tribune not only is ignoring the spectrum of special-education services out there, but the spectrum of students who are served.

It is contributing to the definition of all special-ed students and experiences being in one big expensive and questionable basket. And it is lending credence to the idea that parents of special-ed students are (or should be) pitted against parents of mainstream students, and vice versa.

The newspaper offers balanced views regarding politics, religion, race, gender and finances. It attempts to show a spectrum of individuals and experiences on those subjects, because it would be prejudiced and discriminatory to do otherwise. Yet not here.

Barnes ended her column on Sunday with what she hopes readers will learn from the ongoing reporting on special education. My hope is that those at the Star Tribune truly understand the importance of what they are doing, and really finish what they’ve started.

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Sarah Boggess lives in Hopkins.

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