When children with special needs reach school age, many families struggle with the dilemma of where to find the best education. Should they try placing their child in public school or should they seek a private special education school?
Public School Problems
Federal laws such as IDEA and ADA as well as state and local statues mandate that children with special needs must be allowed access to the public educational system and the public schools must accommodate their needs. As parents soon discover, what sounds good on paper doesn’t always work out in reality.
Parents naturally expect that teachers and administrators already are familiar with the regulations governing special education, but that’s not always true. Many public schools don’t know the laws and will not provide needed assistance. It is up to parents to learn their child’s rights and educate the educators. Unfortunately this may not solve the problem.
Public schools are notoriously underfunded and overworked. Special education school expenses are much, much higher for the schools than those for traditional students and, though there are state and federal programs to defray the costs, some schools are hard pressed to provide help needed even when spelled out in an IEP.
Private School as a Transition to Public School
Another challenge to public education may be the child’s capabilities. Many children with disabilities haven’t been able to learn the skills needed to function in public school, even in a special education program. Then find public school very stressful and may perform poorly. As they grow frustrated, the educational process becomes a nightmare.
Private special education schools are able to instill these children with the capabilities necessary to flourish in a public education setting. Special needs student who have done poorly in public schools may thrive after spending a couple of years in a focused special education school that focuses on building the social, physical and academic skills they need to do well in school. As our children change, so do the education options available to them.
Private Schools for Focused Education
Many parents of special needs kids find private special education schools are their best option. These facilities are able to concentrate on each child’s unique needs to provide a customized educational experience unlike what schools in the public are able to offer.
A common obstacle for families considering private special education schools is the cost of tuition. Unlike state funded schools, private educational institutions are not free. However many tuition assistance programs exist to help families cover the associated expenses, and the high quality education the children received is truly priceless.
The public vs. private school debate is not a situation with an easy answer. While many families find private education preferable, each family must consider how each educational option fits best with their child’s abilities and needs.