CoastLine: The Evolving Field of Special Education

Jan 27, 2017

As North Carolina legislators begin a new long session in Raleigh, both political parties have pointed to education as an area needing attention.  The first day of the session, Republican lawmakers filed a bill in the House to address class sizes.  That’s because last year, a newly-passed law reduced maximum class size – but came with no additional state funding.  That left some school systems looking down the barrel of cutting in other areas – such as arts and physical education.  That will be addressed this session.  And Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has listed education – particularly teacher pay -- as one of his top priorities this year. 

But that’s the larger, mainstream vantage point for public school classrooms in North Carolina.  Special Education has been around for decades.  And it’s come a long way.  A child with autism – or dyslexia – will have a very different experience in school today than they might have had even a few years ago.  But what is the state’s mandate in that regard?  In Colorado, one family sued its school district for the cost of sending their son, who has autism, to a private school where they provide ABA therapy.  The family lost the lower court ruling – but the case will now be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court – according to a report published in The Atlantic

On this edition of CoastLine, we have two experts in the field to explain how Special Education has changed over the years, emerging technologies that are making their way to the classroom, and the challenges educators still face.  


Amelia Moody is an Associate Professor in Early Childhood and Special Education at the University of North Carolina - Wilmington.  She also directs the Center for Assistive Technology there. 

Bethany Nay works in the New Hanover County Public School System at Holly Tree Elementary, where she is a Special Education Teacher in Intensive Social Communication Support, Level 2.   She was recently recognized by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as New Hanover County's 2016 Exceptional Children's Teacher of Excellence.

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