This is intended to be a moderate, but not excessively comprehensive book review of Special Education subtitled Contemporary Perspectives for School Professionals 3rd Edition by Marilyn Friend. Note that the author attempted to gain more purchases of her well written tome by using Professionals in lieu of educator, teacher, professor, or instructor. School Professionals is certainly a larger group than aforementioned enumeration indicating any school employee would benefit from a reading.
Much of the book, which serves as a textbook for alternative licensure and alternate route teachers, details the history and effects of The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1997 which emphasizes the importance of placing students diagnosed with disabilities in the most suitable least restrictive environment (LRE). Most public schools seemed to have interpreted this language as a de facto order for inclusionary practices and placement in general education classrooms. It also covers laws, regulations and litigation surrounding LRE and prepares the general education teacher to academically receive and educate students with disabilities. The various categories of disabilities under IDEA and how to accommodate and modify curriculum to respect and cater to the needs of the exceptional learner in inclusive settings is also major theme of the textbook.
A comment on the non conventional usage of the term exceptional is necessary here. Exceptional is a term commonly reserved for way above the norm in smarts or sports for example. The text uses the term exceptional in the challenged sense meaning that exceptional children require more school resources and services to transition them to the infamous “productive member of society” catch phrase.
The textbook is comprised 15 chapters. Chapters 5-15 have the same general learning objectives redundantly listed at each chapter’s beginning with the various disabilities substituted in general template.
- Define X disability/impairment multiple ways leading to fighting over which definition will identify/diagnose children with said disability.
- Describe characteristics of individuals with X disability/impairment
- Explain perspective and concerns of parents of child with X disability/impairment
- Outline how students with X disability/impairment receive their education
- Identify trends and issues influencing students with X disability/impairment
- Discuss recommended educational practices for students with X disability/impairment
- Summarize the development, usually in the form of historic timeline, for students with X disability/impairment
One can easily see why Special Education subtitled Contemporary Perspectives for School Professionals 3rd Edition became one of the seminal efforts for assisting educators in sensitive and effective delivery of instruction to special needs students. This is not a textbook you will be eager to sell back to the book store. Serious teachers will desire to keep it in their permanent collection as a reference!