The New York City Department of Education has released their yearly report on special education, and the data shows that the city’s school system is not providing all of their special needs students with proper instruction. Over 100,000 schoolchildren in New York require government-mandated special instruction. However, the report shows that not all children are receiving help. 27% of special needs students in the city are unable to take advantage of the special education services that they need. Some of these 48,000 underserved students have limited access to school resources, while others have none at all. When special education services are unavailable within a school, New York City hands out vouchers to the parents of the students, allowing them to seek outside instruction. Outside specialists include professionals like speech pathologists, psychotherapists and occupational or physical therapists. However, many parents are unable to find an instructor in their area or don’t have the time to transport their child across the city. This results in an increase of students in New York City who are not not receiving government-mandated care.
The Department of Education stressed that the survey shows an improvement in access to special education instruction. During the previous school year, 41% of the city’s special needs students had full access to special education services. However, critics of the report state that the list of actual reported incidents does not match this trend. During the 2016/2017 school year, there were 500 more occurrences of essential special education services not being given to students than the year before. When compared to students in general programs, special education students need more training and support to succeed in the classroom. Without improved access to special resources, these students could fall behind.