Catholic Education for Students With Special Needs

An article in The Washington Post features good news for parents who hope to find Catholic schools capable of providing services for children with disabilites:

Forty-two percent of Catholic elementary schools in the United States had a resource teacher to help students with special needs in 2008-09, up from 28 percent in 2001-02, according to the National Catholic Educational Association....Many Catholic schools now offer support for students with learning disabilities such as attention-deficit disorder or Asperger syndrome. The portion equipped to enroll students with intellectual disabilities, historically defined as those scoring below 70 or 75 on an IQ test, is still small, but it, too, is growing.

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The article also features the Catholic Coalition for Special Education, an organization that raises funds and offers grants to support the hiring of resource teachers in Washington D.C.- and Maryland-area Catholic schools. The video below features a few of the students they've assisted.

 

While I would have liked to hear comments from one or two of the students with special needs, overall, the video presents some great stories about the kinds of opportunities made possible by the organization.  Definitely worth watching.

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Brian Thompson
8 years 5 months ago
If I remember correctly, Washington State just ruled that private, even religious schools, may draw on funds and other resources meant to provide assistance in educating special-needs children. I think that is fantastic, since religious people and catholics in particular are more and more likely not to kill disabled children, and thus need the resources to educate them and help them regardless of where they choose to educate such children.
8 years 5 months ago
Thank you, Kerry, for bringing to our attention the news article on the integration of children with intellectual disabilities  in some Catholic schools.  In the history of advocacy for  children with special needs, it has often been their parents and relatives who were in the forefront of "grassroots" movements to better their lives.  When I was a social worker for Catholic Charities in St, Paul during the 50's, I met a young Catholic mother of a Down Syndrome child who was one of the founders of th Nat'l Assoc of Retarded Childreni in that area. She taught me a great deal about advocacy which I have had the opportunity to apply,  So, I would like to heartily commend the parents and relatives of the Catholic Coalition  for Special Education and the school administrators for the work they are doing.  Now, it behooves all Catholics to make it possible for Catholic children who have disabilities to receive their educations in Catholic schools throughout the country! 
James Lindsay
8 years 5 months ago
One of the glaring omissions of Catholic education is a vocational/technical and remedial learning track. Not every Catholic kid wants to or can go to college or seeks a professional career. More needs to be done for those of our children who seek a more practical path in life (like my younger brother who is a chef and not a doctor or office drone - like the rest of his siblings).

We just need to be careful that people are directed to such opportunities because that is what they want and are assessed to be good at, not because we have preconceived notions based on their demographics (meaning that if the white surgeon's kid wants to go to cooking school we can do that for him while channeling the hispanic cooks kid to a Pre-Med track if she has that vocation).

Catholic Education should not be reserved for those of us who are greasy grinds. Every young person should have that experience - including those who would be grease monkey's instead (like my uncle, who was a mechanic and ended up with more money than any of his siblings).

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