Special Education and the Christian Mandate
The following is from a discussion board post I was assigned this week in my class, Foundations of Exceptionalities at Liberty University.
The Difference Between a Christian and Secular Approach toward Students with Exceptionalities
In reading and pondering this topic it becomes clear that the only real difference between the secular approach to special education and the Christian approach is the source of the mandate requiring action. The secular (public) school systems are driven by federal laws, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), which mandates Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) for all students (Weintraub, 2005). These laws and regulations, the oldest of which are just reaching the half century mark, have continued to evolve and develop over the course of years, adjusting to fiscal constraints and rising demand for services. Public school districts must follow these mandates and laws or face punitive measures.
The mandate for the Christian, and the Christian school, is different, but no less demanding. In fact, as believers, we are commanded to uphold the laws that govern our communities in addition to following the mandates of the Lord Jesus. As a result, we ought not to see this as an opportunity to lessen our responsibility, but rather a challenge to be a model that raises what we offer to a position of excellence. The mandate we must follow is found in both the words, and the actions of our primary example, Jesus Christ. In the Scriptures we find the purpose for which He came and we remain.
•Jesus’ Purpose Declared by the Prophet:
o The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him, and unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written:18 The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed,19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:17-19 Holman Christian Standard Bible).
•Our Purpose Defined by the Savior:
o And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28.18-20 New American Standard Bible 1977).“
Jesus, as He lived out His example before the eyes of His followers, never shied away from the challenge that people with special needs brought to Him. Blind, deaf, crippled, diseased, they all found in Christ a refuge and a hope. As His followers, our mandate is to offer those same things to the people with special needs today.
Weintraub, F. (2005). The evolution of ld policy and future challenges. Learning Disability
Quarterly, 28(2), 97-99