One of the six aspects of IDEA is Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). FAPE is technically defined as a “Special education and related services that are provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge; meet SEA; include preschool, elementary, or secondary school education; and are provides through an individualized education program (IEP)”. (Mandlawitz, 2007)An individualized educational plan (IEP) that is designed to meet the child’s unique needs and from which the child receives educational benefits and prepares them for farther education, employment, and independent living.
These unique education needs includes “Mastery of academic subjects and basic skills, Social, health, emotional, physical, and vocational needs, and functioning and self-help sills”. (Jalvarado) FAPE consist of an education that meets the individual needs of the child, the child with the disability must be educated with students without disabilities, an evaluation and placement decisions must be made appropriately. IDEA does not explain the exact meaning of the term “appropriate”.
Parents and schools interpret this term uniquely which has resulted in countless court cases.
This aspect of IDEA has be one of the most challenged out of all six because there are so many places of misunderstanding and loop holes that allow for some school districts to slip through. Even though this principle does mention the child should be in the least restrictive environment. This environment could vary from complete involvement in a classroom with children without disabilities, a separate classroom that has one on one help for the child and/or a combination of both.
This environment is not truly known until an IEP is developed. The IEP would state the special education, related services, supplementary aids and services that will be provided for the child. This allows a child regardless of the severity of their disability to receive an education. It is important for families that have children with disabilities to know about FAPE because they may not know that there child is entitled to receive an education. FAPE is beneficial for families and their children to know their rights to receive an education.
In, addition this could save families a lot of money that they may spend on special services or private schools that they could be receiving for free from the school district. For example a deaf child that may need a speech and auditory therapist and an interpreter these types of services could all be provided by the school district with no cost to the families in addition to the child’s normal academics. Also the children would become more social with peers and interacting with others that could not be learned in a confined area like home schooling and schools that isolate the child.
The child would develop social skills that are desperately needed day to day to survive. FAPE is beneficial for parents because it could relieve stress that maybe caused by their misunderstanding of why their child is different and how to help them grow. The parent may also learn things about their child that they did not know like their child is very motivated to learn, enjoys working in groups, and is very inquisitive. These characteristics about this child would not have been known if their child was not put into public schooling.
Educators also play a part in the child and them receiving extra help provided under IDEA because they create the IEP and keep everyone up to date about the child’s improvements and problem areas. This aspect of IDEA impacts me as a future educator because it will force me to broaden my horizons and views of the “normal” classroom experience. Meaning, that there are not any students with LDs or disabilities in the class. Knowing that FAPE is a defining factor in the educational experience for children with disabilities will allow me to understand their exceptionalities and how effectively help them gain an education.
In addition I will learn how to properly mainstream them into the classroom with other students. For example, I would figure out ways to decrease to possibility of labels and teasing by the other students because it was noticeable that the students were in special ed. classes. To prevent teasing caused by misunderstanding I would develop projects that would create learning experiences for students to learn that everyone is different in their own way.
Also to explore these differences and focus more on their abilities and talents as an individual for students with and without exceptionalities. The students being combined could create new relationships between the disabled and normal students. Before this aspect of IDEA was created children with disabilities were segregated from the “normal” student. Knowing that there is large possibility that my classroom will consist of students each uniquely different it is important for me to well informed and educated. So that I will be able to effectively educate my students.