Professionally, one of the things I dread is when parents come in to my office to consult with me and they have folders loaded with one IEP (Individualized Education Plan) after another to review.

I know I have some kind of comprehension problem, because after all of these years whenever I start to read the IEPs my eyes glaze over and I can’t understand them. They all seem the same to me, and there certainly a lot of pages.

When I was a young special education teacher, IEPs were supposed to be liberating for those with disabilities. As I recall, the intention of the law was that there would be an individualized plan drawn up for each child. It seemed to be a great notion.

I could be wrong, but I didn’t think the IEP was supposed to be a template of items checked off on a list, with pages upon pages of checklists.

I know I’m dreaming, but I think I would rather have a one page “IEP” that had a few very specific goals established for the child rather than all of the checked items.

Wouldn’t three or so very specifically targeted goals be better than 20 some odd pages of checklist upon checklist?

Come to think of it, we would also save some trees if psychological and other professional reports weren’t so long, with their myriad of recommendations (often templated or computer generated), many of which are completely unrealistic.

If there are 10, 20, or even 30 recommendations in the report (which is often the case), the school will have a very tough time implementing any of them.

Instead, keep asking what are the two or three things that if faithfully implemented would make a difference in an individualized plan. The same applies to 504 Plans. What are the two or three good accommodations that would help “level the playing field” for the child?

We certainly would save some trees in the rainforest.