Controversial Issues in Education: The Power of Information. Essay Sample.

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Vanderbilt University
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In any education system, various controversial issues pose a challenge to school boards. Sometimes, there is too much information available on a certain controversial issue that the board is not sure of the best strategies for approaching the issue. One of these controversial issues is the aspect of handling children with disabilities such as ADHD and autism. In the article Is the Bar Too Low for Special Education by Laura McKenna published in The Atlantic on January 24, 2017, the author presents the case of children with special needs. The author quotes the Endrew F. versus Douglas County School District in which the parents have sued the school for ignoring the special needs of their child, Drew, who has autism and portrays difficult behavior. The main argument is that when Drew is taken to a private school, he shows significant improvement both socially and academically in the new school as opposed to his old school: a public one (McKenna). The parents are therefore concerned that the school district never offered Drew enough support hence his erratic behavior. The main idea that the author wants to communicate is that all children need to get equal opportunities in public schools, regardless of their ability. According to the article, students with disabilities in public schools are forced to sit idly in regular classrooms and are not given the necessary support. Many of them end up dropping out. This article is credible and very relevant to the Spokane School Board, educators, and other interested parties. Although schools may have adequate resources, failure to have the right information can lead to futile approaches to controversial issues in the education system. McKennas article is the most informative that the Spokane School Board could read on the issue of special leaners. Information is the most powerful tool in addressing controversial issues in education.

The Spokane School Board requires information on disparities in dealing with special learners. The article by McKenna gives information on the disparities in the support services offered for children with disabilities between public schools and private schools. The support offered for autistic children, for example, is inadequate in public schools as opposed to private institutions. According to the article, Drew was regularly removed from the classroom in his suburban school outside of Denver and only made marginal academic improvement. This demonstrates that in the public school, Drew is gradually pushed out for being different. However, in the private school, his behavior is controlled using a standard ABA Therapy which is a standard, but intensive, treatment for autistic children with behavioral problems that was not offered at his public school. The therapy yields fruit as he shows remarkable improvement with time. Public schools are crippled with poor funding from both the state and federal governments. The poor funding makes access to the relevant programs and facilities for children with disabilities a big challenge. With this information, the Spokane School will ensure that most of the needs of the special learners are met without compromising the quality of education in the institution.

Similarly, the school board needs to be informed about some of the conflicts that may arise due to negligence. To be on the safe side, the school board needs this information. If the board in Douglas County District School were aware of the implications of ignoring Drew and keeping him out of class due to his difficult behavior, it would have taken the necessary steps before the situation got out of hand. Due to the dismal outcomes of learners with disabilities in public schools, conflicts between parents and the schools arise, with some parents suing the schools concerned. McKenna explains that in 2012, Drews parents filed a complaint with the Colorado Department of Education to recover the cost of tuition at this school. Because the ruling was not in their favor, Drews parents appealed. It ended up becoming a long court battle. A court battle can be particularly draining for the school boards. The right information is, therefore, important to ensure that any unnecessary conflicts are prevented. McKenna goes on to suggest research-based teaching and accountability systems as the key to fulfilling the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). In that case, conflicts, such as the Endrew F. versus Douglas County School District, can be avoided. The resources that could have been used in resolving the case can then be utilized to improve the infrastructure that is supportive of the learners with special needs. The school board, therefore, needs to read this article as it will inform them about probable conflicts with parents regarding learners with disabilities.

To address the controversial issue objectively, the Spokane School Board requires information about the various sides of the disability issue. Various stakeholders have different opinions regarding the handling of students with a disability in a regular school. While some people argue that setting the bar for special education too high will only create chaos and overwhelm the already underfunded and overburdened system, the concerned parties maintain that apart from being assisted to access public schools, children with special needs require high-quality teachers and evidence-based programs that will see them succeed (McKenna). With such information, the school board is likely to make informed choices on how to treat learners with disability. McKenna states that a learner with disability needs a well-written IEP with rigorous, measurable goals and high expectations, staff with adequate training and support, and a clean classroom with windows. With such information, the school board is able to come up with the best strategies to support the learner with special needs in the mainstream classroom.

I chose McKennas article because compared to the other four, it stands out as the most informative. Although these other articles are also good, they do not address the controversial issue wholesomely. The information each provides lacks some bits of crucial information. McKennas article, for example, provides a real court case involving a school and the parents of an autistic learner. This provides the basis for the reason this controversial issue is important. The article also, has information on the two sides of the controversial issue. It provides the opinions of those supporting higher standards for special needs learners as well as the views of those who think that the status quo should be maintained. Above all, the author of this article summarizes the controversial issue by giving her own story as a parent of an autistic child. This makes this author connect with the reader and convince them that the issue is real and needs urgent attention. The other articles lack such conviction, and that is why this is the best article for the Spokane School Board to read.

It is important to note that information is power. The chosen article is the best for the Spokane School Board. It is the strongest since the author has managed to convince the audience by providing critical information about the disability issue. Essentially, it is the most informative. With credible information, the Spokane School Board can make the right decisions regarding controversial issues in education. Informed choices and decisions are always paramount since they act as the foundations for practical strategies. Therefore, school boards should get the right information so as to come up with workable solutions to the challenges posed by controversial issues in education.


Works Cited

Gelser, Sara A. "Special Education Conflict: A Symptom of Poor Outcomes for Students." GPSolo, vol. 31, no. 2, 2014, pp. 38-41, ProQuest,

McKenna, Laura. Is the Bar Too Low for Special Education? The Atlantic, 24 Jan. 2017,

Miriam, Kurtzig F. "Mainstreaming' Special-Ed Students Needs Debate." Wall Street Journal, 5 Aug. 2013, ProQuest,

Nauert, Rick. Special Needs Children Benefit from Mainstreaming. Psych Central, 29 July 2014,

The Best Ways To Integrate Special Needs Students. Talk of the Nation, National Public Radio, 2 May 2012,



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