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Congressional initiative would help transition special needs kids

When children are identified as having special educational needs, these needs rarely subside when children graduate and enter the workforce. For example, if children struggle with reading due to a disability, that struggle tends to follow the disabled individual as he or she becomes an employee. And yet, many special education programs fail to address ways in which special needs kids may become adequately prepared to thrive in the workforce and post-secondary institutions even if they will continue to struggle with certain tasks throughout their adult lives.

Thankfully, Congress seems to have taken note of this fact. Should Congress renew the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA), a new provision would help to transition the idea of “inclusion” for special needs students from educational settings into the workforce. As we have previously discussed, inclusion helps to ensure that students with special educational needs are placed in the least restrictive environment possible.

The new provision aims to ensure that special needs students can obtain competitive jobs. While some disabled students may end up transitioning into jobs alongside other disabled students, the WIA provision would help to ensure that more special needs students gain access to employment opportunities within the larger workforce.

Too often, special education initiatives focus intently on the immediate education of students without a vision for how students will apply their knowledge and thrive in the future. If passed, the new WIA provision may help to change that short-sighted approach in favor of a future-oriented view. At minimum, it will help inspire school districts to think critically about the futures of special needs kids.

Source: Education Week, “Bipartisan Workforce Bill Would Help Students Leaving Special Education,” Alyson Klein, May 21, 2014

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