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How To Put Ethics Into Texas’ Draft Special Education Plan

“We don’t go home at the end of the day and say, ‘Yes! I didn’t break the law today,'” law professor Susan Bon said

For over 10 years, the Texas Education Agency set an arbitrary target for special education enrollment, something that the federal authorities say must be corrected.
For over 10 years, the Texas Education Agency set an arbitrary target for special education enrollment, something that the federal authorities say must be corrected.

Parents and teachers have until April 18 to email comments on the state’s draft plan to overhaul special education, as Texas tries to reform its services after more than a decade of denying children access.

One expert believes that Texas should consider something that’s often overlooked: ethics.

Without a code of ethics, law professor Susan Bon said that it’s easy for school leaders to check off the legal basics.

“We don’t go home at the end of the day and say, ‘Yes! I didn’t break the law today,’ because that’s expected,” said Bon, who teaches at the University of South Carolina and recently talked to a group of special ed leaders in Houston at the University of St. Thomas.

Instead, she said, school leaders should reflect something like this: “I also had a hard decision to make where there were two competing goods and — putting on sort of what an ethical leader do — I considered how this would benefit students first.”

Bon said that to do that statewide, Texas needs to create a code of ethics for special education and decide what parts of those ideals can be enforced.

“If we really want to fix the culture, every stakeholder voice comes together and they’re on that task force to start that process of creating, ‘This is the code of ethics for special ed in Texas,'” she said.

Texas education administrators will hold hearings on its special education plan in Edinburg and Richardson later this month. People can also email their comments at TexasSPED@TEA.texas.gov.

 

 

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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