I listen to WNYC during both my morning and evening commute, so I heard this story twice today. This is an important topic, and I was disappointed to hear such a narrow view of the issue. The story contains at least one blatant untruth, and is written without a historical, educational, or national context.
The untruth is that receiving schools (neighborhood schools) won't implement programs required by a child's IEP. Federal law mandates the implementation of an IEP, and schools are obligated to carry them out. It is true that many schools have not, historically, provided these services. And it may be true that in NYC negotiating the IEP is difficult for all the reasons you talk about. But it was wrong and misleading, and unnecessarily scares parents, to say they can't implement the IEP.
As for context......Inclusion has been the widely recognized best practice in the field of education for decades. Across the country, schools of all sizes and locations include children with all disabilities in their neighborhood schools. NYC has been behind the rest of the country for more than 20 years. When I travel to other states and explain the model for serving kids with severe disabilities here, people are shocked.
Of course the next few years will be hard - parents, students, and teachers will have a steep learning curve as you state. However, all partie can rest easy that there is a broad and deep expertise across the country - models to follow, trainers to bring in, other parents who can coach ours - to help NYC come into the modern world of integrated education.
I am an education professional, in the field of developmental disabilities and inclusion for more than 30 years. Susan G. Izeman, PhD, BCBA