DLD: Director Posny Clarifies Comments

The Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) is pleased to provide Director Alexa Posny's clarification of comments that she made in the fall of 2006 regarding special education. Director Posny provided the clarifications in response to an inquiry from DLD President Karen J. Rooney. In its report of her speech to the National Association of State Directors of Special Education at that organization's 69th Annual Conference and Business meeting in Williamsburg (VA; US), LRP's Special Ed Connection quoted Director Posny as making statements that presented a negative portrayal of special education and Learning Disabilities.

I've been in this field long enough to know that about half the kids we identify as special education are not--they are reading impaired, but they've been failing so long they look like special ed.

This is going to sound like blasphemy, but I almost wish special education would go away.

President Rooney wrote to Director Posny and, noting that comments might be taken out of context in press accounts, asked for clarification. Noting that she regreted "that [her] comments portrayed special education in a negative light," Director Posny replied that she saw her comments as, indeed, taken out of context. She offered the following clarifications (see copy of her letter for full context):

Regarding the first quote, it should have read, "In my experience...". I was also referring specifically to learning disabled students, which make up approximately 48 percent of all students with disabilites served under IDEA.... [My professional] experiences led me to conclude that many of the students identified as learning disabled are educationally disadvantaged and not learning disabled. As you are aware, students identified as learning disabled must fail educationally before they are identified as in need of special education services. Many disadvantaged students who need intensive interventions when first entering school and who do not receive them, are often subsequently identified as learning disabled.

Regarding the second quote, a critical part of my statement was not included; that is, special education will always be needed, however, it may look different in the future. The field of education is changing and has changed as a result of NCLB, IDEA and the use of evidence-based practices. We are at a point in time in which special educators have the unique opportunity to lead the changes that need to occur in education to ensure every child is successful.

DLD encourages its members and the general public to review both President Rooney's and Director Posny's letters (see links that follow). People are welcome to contact President Rooney using TeachingLD.org's contact form.


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