Reimagining Special Education
Dear New Yorkers,
A little over a year ago, I sent a PS + You newsletter with this same subject line. I was announcing a historic expansion of our specialized programming for students with disabilities, along with the launch of our Special Education Advisory Council.
Now, I’m glad to be sharing an exciting update: the Advisory Council has compiled its final report. After many hours of deep discussion and analysis, the Council’s 52 members—representing families, community leaders, advocates, students, educators, and more—have put forth recommendations that include:
- Strengthening trust between schools and families
- Prioritizing investments in special education programs close to students’ homes
- Shifting mindsets and further incorporating the lived experiences of people with disabilities into our work
A prominent theme across these recommendations is inclusivity, and while there is much work ahead, I’m proud of the steps we are already taking.
This fall we will be expanding our highly popular Nest, Horizon, and AIMS programs in Districts 5, 12, and 14, to better support our autistic students entering kindergarten. Both Nest and Horizon, which serve students through 12th grade, post impressive results (they average a 95% high school graduation rate!), and more and more families are seeking to enroll. You can learn about Nest, Horizon, and AIMS on our website.
We also created our new Inclusive and Interdependent Language Initiative, a glossary of terms that promotes inclusion and fights ableism. I encourage you to review this resource and incorporate its guidance into your interactions with students, whether you are an educator, parent, or community member.
Finally, I want to thank the Council members for their terrific work. I’m grateful for your dedication, partnership, and expertise as we boldly reimagine special education in our schools.
David C. Banks
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