Special Education

June 11, 2021 • Volume 31, Issue 21
Can it be reshaped to fulfill its original promise?
By Holly Rosenkrantz


The COVID-19 pandemic has upended schooling for all children, but students with disabilities have been hit particularly hard. These children often face the most challenges in remote education and the biggest hurdles in making up for the time away from in-person learning. There has been confusion among educators about how to deliver special education services and whether the services should be provided to the same degree that they would be in-person. Some experts say students with disabilities are regressing, and families are wondering whether their children will receive compensatory services when they eventually return to school. But other experts, including some education and disability advocates, as well as parents, believe that remote schooling actually helps. They see this unprecedented shock to special education as an opportunity to make fundamental corrections to a highly imperfect system — one that has educated many children with disabilities, but often falls short of the potential envisioned by the landmark Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Photo of students and their families protesting COVID school restrictions in Boston on December 13, 2020. (Getty Images/The Boston Globe/Jessica Rinaldi)
Students and their families gather in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood in December to demand in-person services for pupils with disabilities. COVID-19 upended education across the board, but some experts say students with special needs have had an especially hard time and are regressing in their learning. (Getty Images/The Boston Globe/Jessica Rinaldi)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Education Issues
Jan. 27, 2023  Deaths of Despair
Sep. 23, 2022  Public Schools' Challenges
Aug. 12, 2022  Parents' Rights
Apr. 01, 2022  Online Learning
Jan. 21, 2022  Teaching About Racism
Oct. 01, 2021  COVID-19 and Children
Jun. 11, 2021  Special Education
Jun. 21, 2019  Title IX and Campus Sexual Assault
May 17, 2019  School Safety
Feb. 02, 2018  Bullying and Cyberbullying
Feb. 03, 2017  Civic Education
Sep. 05, 2014  Race and Education
Jun. 13, 2014  Dropout Rate
May 09, 2014  School Discipline
Mar. 07, 2014  Home Schooling
Dec. 02, 2011  Digital Education
Nov. 15, 2011  Expanding Higher Education
Dec. 10, 2010  Preventing Bullying Updated
Apr. 16, 2010  Revising No Child Left Behind
Mar. 26, 2010  Teen Pregnancy
Sep. 04, 2009  Financial Literacy
Jun. 05, 2009  Student Rights
Feb. 22, 2008  Reading Crisis?
Jul. 13, 2007  Students Under Stress
Apr. 27, 2007  Fixing Urban Schools Updated
Nov. 10, 2006  Video Games Updated
Mar. 03, 2006  AP and IB Programs
Oct. 07, 2005  Academic Freedom
Aug. 26, 2005  Evaluating Head Start
May 27, 2005  No Child Left Behind
Jan. 17, 2003  Home Schooling Debate
Sep. 06, 2002  Teaching Math and Science
Jun. 07, 2002  Grade Inflation
Dec. 07, 2001  Distance Learning
Apr. 20, 2001  Testing in Schools
May 14, 1999  National Education Standards
Apr. 10, 1998  Liberal Arts Education
Jul. 26, 1996  Attack on Public Schools
May 17, 1996  Year-Round Schools
Oct. 20, 1995  Networking the Classroom
Sep. 22, 1995  High School Sports
Jan. 20, 1995  Parents and Schools
Sep. 09, 1994  Home Schooling
Mar. 25, 1994  Private Management of Public Schools
Mar. 11, 1994  Education Standards
Apr. 09, 1993  Head Start
Nov. 30, 1990  Conflict Over Multicultural Education
Feb. 05, 1988  Preschool: Too Much Too Soon?
Oct. 23, 1987  Education Reform
Aug. 24, 1984  Status of the Schools
Sep. 10, 1982  Schoolbook Controversies
Sep. 03, 1982  Post-Sputnik Education
Aug. 18, 1978  Competency Tests
Jan. 26, 1972  Public School Financing
Nov. 03, 1971  Education for Jobs
Apr. 15, 1970  Reform of Public Schools
Aug. 27, 1969  Discipline in Public Schools
Dec. 27, 1968  Community Control of Public Schools
Jun. 14, 1965  Summer School Innovations
Oct. 28, 1964  Education of Slum Children
Jun. 05, 1963  Year-Round School
Mar. 28, 1962  Mentally Retarded Children
Dec. 17, 1958  Educational Testing
Sep. 25, 1957  Liberal Education
Jul. 11, 1956  Educational Exchange
Feb. 02, 1955  Federal Aid for School Construction
Mar. 07, 1951  Education in an Extended Emergency
Nov. 20, 1945  Postwar Public Education
Nov. 07, 1941  Standards of Education
Blind and Visually Impaired
Budget and the Economy
Congress Actions
Cost of Education and School Funding
Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Deficit, Federal Debt, and Balanced Budget
Diversity Issues
Education Policy
Elementary and Secondary Education
Infectious Diseases
Online Education
People with Disabilities
People with Mental Disabilities
Research in Education
Special Education
Supreme Court History and Decisions