the regular class as the only type of model for our kids. They give lip service to the full continuum of placements, in order to remain legal, but in reality they push an inclusion model over other options: “You have a learning disability, this is what we have for you—full time in a regular class.” This one-size-fits all thinking is reminiscent of what we had prior to PL 94-142: “You have a learning disability; this is what we have for you—a self-contained class.” …
Recently, the Council for Exceptional Children released a report entitled, “Conditions for Special Education Teaching.” This survey of special education teachers, general education teachers, and special and general education administrators tells an alarming tale. It’s no wonder that special education teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Almost a third of special education teachers spend 20 to 30 percent of their time on paperwork related to identifying students and developing IEPs. And 12% spend more than half their time doing this. This doesn’t even count other types of paperwork, like taking attendance, writing notes to parents, and so forth. Fifty-eight percent report spending 10 to 20% of their time in meetings related to IEPs, and 25% report spending 20 to 30% of their time in such meetings. And this doesn’t count the time required to collaborate with general educators. From the way these data are reported it’s not possible to arrive at a precise measure of how much time is spent in either meetings or paperwork, but a not unreasonable estimate would be that about half the special education teachers report spending about half their time in IEP-related meetings or paperwork.
So where’s the time for instruction? There isn’t any. Thirty-one percent of special education teachers report they spend less than 1 hour per week in individual instruction. Twenty-two percent spend … 1 to 2 hours per week in individual instruction. And … 15% spend zero time in individual instruction. (Hallahan, 2000)
Postmodernism and Learning Disabilities
Kauffman (1999) has expressed concern and displeasure about the current status of special education. Specifically he has stated, “I am not very happy with most of what I see in our field today. I think we are in a period of considerable upset and danger, and our future could look rather bleak depending on how we respond to current pressures” (p. 244).
Kauffman’s words of unrest are, in part, due to the spread of postmodernism and its position that special education is fundamentally flawed and needs reconceptualization. The position of postmodernists is in stark contrast to the point of view of Kauffman and others who believe that special education is basically a sound system that needs incremental improvements guided by scientific inquiry. Various terms, such as incremental improvement versus substantial reconceptualization (Andrews et al., 2000), modern versus postmodernism/cultural relativism (Sasso, 2001), modern versus postmodernism/constructivism (Kauffman, 1999), and modern versus postmodernism (Kavale & Forness, 2000), have been used to describe these two camps; however, in this discussion, modern and postmodernism are used. The major tenets and implications of the two positions are apparent when their respective views on the nature of knowledge, disability, special education, and expected outcomes for students with disabilities are examined.
Nature of knowledge. The modern position holds that the current state of knowledge is promising and provides a solid basis on which to build. The modern position supports the use of the scientific method of inquiry to increase knowledge and features experimental research designs and quantitative analysis. Postmodernism rejects the modern view of science in favor of alternative ways of knowing. Postmodernism primarily supports a socially constructed view of knowledge in which logical inquiry is a social enterprise. This social negotiation approach to knowing is used to focus on topics such as racism, systems, researchers as change agents, and the redefining of ethical and moral behavior.
Critics of postmodernism (Kauffman, 1999; Kavale & Forness, 2000; Sasso, 2001) maintain that the most questionable tenet of postmodernism is the rejection of science because it is thought of as untrustworthy or evil. The concern emerges because the rejection of science insulates socially constructed knowledge from