Ed Steinberg, assistant commissioner of the Colorado Department of Education and state director of Special Education, spoke to members of the Exceptional Students Learning Team at its Jan. 12 meeting at Palmer Ridge High School.
Before serving at the state level, Steinberg had served at the district level as director of Special Education for the Cherry Creek school district.
spoke briefly about the history of special education under federal law.
said that he
feared using one-time funds for salaries was not the most effective approach.
A new priority in the special education field is literacy.
The attainment of literacy is a new civil right and one that he
said has been neglected for the past two decades.
said that 20 to 30 percent of students need a very structured method of learning to read, and there is a serious shortage of skilled reading teachers.
When asked about the value of online education, Steinberg
said that online services became available to special education students about 12 years ago.
Offerings are now multiplying rapidly, but it is essential to combine the online aspect of a program with classroom time to include the social aspect of education.
When asked about full inclusion in the general education classroom for special education students, Steinberg
said that full inclusion is not legally required.
The legal requirement is that a student be provided instruction in the least restrictive environment, and schools are required to report regularly on students' progress.
Due to restrictions in funding, schools can sometimes not provide the para-educators necessary to support students in class, he
also expressed concern that with the new teacher evaluation standards that reward teachers based on growth of their students, inclusion will be discouraged.
said that there is an increased concern about what special education students will do when they leave the school environment, and these transition programs are seeing increased emphasis.