When Bryan Stromer started high school in 2009, few people knew that the Department of Education was on the verge of announcing a radical rethinking of how students with disabilities are included in city schools.
The next year, his school, the selective NYC Lab School, became one of 260 schools to pilot special education reforms that call on all schools to serve students no matter what disability they might have. Advocates for students with disabilities support the shift, but as the Department of Education prepares to expand the initiative citywide this fall, some are raising concerns.
Stromer, who has a disability and is the student representative on the Citywide Council on Special Education, is a steadfast defender of the reforms after living under them for two years. In the Community section, he writes about the changes that have taken place at his school that have allowed him and his classmates with disabilities to take greater advantage of what the school offers.
In my school, only a handful special education students decide to take more than one year of foreign language because the advanced courses do not offer the same level of support, but I knew that I wanted to continue taking Spanish. Participating in the pilot of the reform caused my school to look at special education as a service and not just a place and because of this I was able to request that my Spanish class be supported with an ICT teacher. Knowing that this Spanish class would be ICT-supported allowed my classmates with disabilities and I to be comfortable with taking on the risk of continuing our Spanish studies.
Read Stromer’s entire account in the Community section. And check out GothamSchools’ archives for more coverage of the special education reforms.