Sunday, June 19, 2011

Free Appropriate Public Education

Monroe Elementary School - Brown Vs the Board ...Image via WikipediaA Cross post from my JHU/ISTE blog

Are public schools doing enough or are they trying to do too much?
In the case of Hendrick Hudson School District v. Rowley
A lower court noted that:
“she performs better than the average child in her class and is advancing easily from grade to grade,” but “the she understands considerably less of what goes on in class than she could if she were not deaf” and thus “is not learning as much, or performing as well academically, as she would without her handicap,” (Russo, 6th edition p. 1002)
Thus they decided she was not receiving a “free appropriate public education,” (Russo, p. 1002)
The supreme court reversed the ruling stating, “if personalized instruction is being provided with sufficient supportive services to permit the child to benefit from the instruction, and the other items on the definitional checklist are satisfied, the child is receiving a “free appropriate public education” as defined by the Act….” (Russo, p. 1004) “The Act’s intent was more to open the door of public education to handicapped children by means of specialized educational services than to guarantee any particular substantive level of education once inside.” (http://supreme.justia.com/us/458/176/) The Act does not require a State to maximize the potential of each handicapped child commensurate with the opportunity provided nonhandicapped children. (http://supreme.justia.com/us/458/176/ )
My question then is, Does the free public education in our country need only be of a “measurable” gain instead of maximizing the potential of each student?
Earlier in 1954 the case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (Topeka I) the justices said:
“Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments”
“In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education.”
Does this sound like asking for a mere measurable gain?
Of course they also say, in the same paragraph:
“It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment”
Perhaps a free and appropriate public education is not meant to give each student the maximum educational benefit.
So what is the purpose of free public education in the United States? Should the state provide just the foundation or should they provide “those qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness … (Sweatt v. Painter)”?
References
Russo, C. J. (2006). Reutter’s the law of public education (6th ed.). New York, NY: Foundation Press.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE HENDRICK HUDSON CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT v. ROWLEY Supreme Court of the united States, 458 U.S. 176 (1982).
BROWN v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF TOPEKA Supreme Court of the United States, 1954 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed. 873.
SWEATT v. PAINTER Supreme Court of the United States, 1950 339 U.S. 629
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