August 2008 Archives

No matter which party wins the White House this fall, it'll be making history: the Democrats would be able to claim the first African-American president, and the Republicans could have the first female vice president. Edweek's Campaign K-12 blog has a entry on Gov. Sarah Palin's education bonafides. UPDATE: Here's a link to Education Week's web story on the selection, which delves more deeply into her education record. Most intriguing for my professional interests is that Palin, a 44-year-old self-described "hockey mom," PTA leader-turned-mayor-turned-governor, is also the mother of a 5-month-old with Down syndrome. (She has four other children, ages ...


Those of you who have followed the blog for a while know that I've been mesmerized with the goings-on in a tiny Michigan town where a school board member was suing his own district over his son's individualized education program. The case at the one-school, 150-student Northport district, dragged on for months and could cost the district $250,000 if it loses. Now, the board member, Alan Woods, has been recalled, by a decisive 2-to-1 margin. Here's an article where both the recall initiator and Woods make their respective arguments. His argument that he is trying to be a watchdog ...


I always know when I'm at a conference of teachers and former teachers. No matter what, there always seems to be a time when a speaker commands the audience to get up for a little game or musical interlude. Old classroom habits die hard. So at today's Office of Special Education Programs Leadership Conference in Baltimore, even though the special education administrators in attendance had likely long since left the classroom, I wasn't surprised that a presentation on a reading program in North Carolina ended with the audience being asked to sing...about reading. But that was just one light ...


Gov. Ted Strickland, the Democratic governor of Ohio, vetoed a bill last year that would have authorized a special education voucher program similar to one already in the state for students with autism. But a new bill that mirrors the vetoed legislation is back and making its way through the Ohio legislature. Instead of being open just to students with autism, it would be available to all special education students. Strickland has promised to veto the bill again if it comes back to his desk. The bill is scheduled to be up for a full vote sometime this fall. In ...


At two recent town hall meetings, both Barack Obama and John McCain reiterated their desire to see more money go to special education. Obama's comments, made Aug. 19 in Raleigh, N.C., were posted on YouTube: An audience member told Obama, a Democrat, about her experiences with her 3-year-old son, who has Down syndrome. She said she was told by doctors that her son was lucky to be getting benefits because he "wasn't really going to be anything in life." She then asked Obama his views on the word "retardation" and on including children with disabilities in daily life. A ...


...somewhat. This information has been available for a while from different sources, but the Council for Exceptional Children has created a voter guide (pdf) that lists the education platforms of the presidential candidates. But don't look for anything from Charles "Chuck" Baldwin (Constitution), Bob Barr (Libertarian) or Cynthia McKinney (Green); their websites are silent on the issue, the CEC says. Barr said he did support that Texas district that is allowing teachers to carry guns to school, though. For more political news, be sure to tune in to the Campaign K-12 blog. My colleagues will be closely following the Republican ...


Edweek.org has just posted an article based on a human-rights group's investigation of corporal punishment in public schools. Human Rights Watch is a strong opponent of paddling in schools, so its report is not a place to find out about the "good side" of paddling. It was joined in the report by the American Civil Liberties Union. Paddling is legal in 21 states, though primarily used in the South, according to statistics gathered for the report from the U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights, which tracks corporal punishment. The report also includes many witness accounts. In ...


The 12,500-student West Aurora district in Illinois plans to expand its co-teaching model this school year, and the teachers involved seem all for it: West Aurora High School teacher Nancy Brown can't wait for the school year to start. "It's the first time in a long time that I've been so excited," she said. The cause of Brown's excitement? A new and improved collaborative teaching program that West High will debut this school year, where special education and general education students will learn side by side in classes taught by two teachers. Brown and nine other teachers have been ...


I like to think of my readers as graduate-level experts on special education, but a little refresher never hurts: This site has some nice basic information about what disabilities are covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and what rights are due to a child with a disability. The "14 Rights of Parents" is quite helpful. If a parent came to you for help with information about navigating the special education system, where would you send them? What tips would you want to make sure that parent was aware of?...


Wrapping up what has become Inclusion Week here at On Special Education, here's news on an advisory council, created by the Mayor of Nashville, that released a report (pdf) on the problems it sees with special education in the 75,000-student Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. The committee's abridged recommendations: *Inclusive practices should be adopted comprehensively across MNPS. *Support of students receiving special education services must become a concern of leadership of the district, not the responsibility of just those in the special education department. *Communication between educators, administrators, and families must improve for positive change to occur within MNPS. *Professional ...


At least, sometimes they are: in my last blog entry, I wrote about a poll that suggested only about a quarter of the public, including public school teachers, supported having children with emotional and behavioral disorders educated in the regular classroom. But parents of children with disabilities in the 10,400-student Tuscaloosa, Ala., district fought a plan to close a school that educated only students with disabilities. The Department of Education's office of civil rights got involved in the Tuscaloosa situation, because parents complained that by taking the children out of Oak Hill School and returning them to their neighborhood ...


Only 25 percent of public teachers believe that students with emotional and behavioral disabilities should be taught in regular classrooms along with other students, according to a poll released today by the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University. (Scroll down to the section titled "Mainstreaming the Disabled" to see the results.) Public school teachers were statistically tied with the public at large; the poll said only 28 percent of the public believes that students with these disabilities should be mainstreamed. My colleague, Linda Jacobson, has written an article about these poll results and what they may mean ...


The New York Times (registration required) recently ran an article about Deborah Phelps, the mother of Olympics swimming sensation Michael Phelps, and some of the academic challenges her son faced. Deborah Phelps is currently the principal of Windsor Mill Middle School in Baltimore County, Md. She's been an educator for more than 30 years. But what strikes me, in this article, is some of the stinging comments that she got from teachers when her son was young: As he entered public school, he displayed what his teachers called “immature” behavior. “In kindergarten I was told by his teacher, ‘Michael can’t...


The New York Times pulled no punches in an Aug. 8 editorial published Aug. 8: Many of America’s juvenile jails would be empty if the public schools obeyed federal law and provided disabled children with the special instruction that they need. The editorial was based on a report from the Texas Youth Commission's office of the independent ombudsman, which recently released an evaluation of the educational services provided by the state juvenile corrections agency. From the ombudsman's report: Although the law and regulations clearly establish the provisions of [the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act] for incarcerated youth, the implementation ...


But it sure is special. Check out this amazing young yo-yo master: Pat Hensley, a retired special education teacher and a member of the board of directors of the Council for Exceptional Children, used this video in her blog as a launching point for a thoughtful discussion on hidden student talents. I've added her blog, Successful Teaching, to the "Blogs I Follow" list that you can see on the lower right of my web page. Also feel free to check out No Limits to Learning, a blog that focuses on assistive technology, and Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs, a ...


I don't want On Spec Ed to turn into a special education law blog, because many have staked out that ground quite well, as you can see by checking my blogroll. But I've happened to run across a handful of interesting law-related items: My colleague Mark Walsh wrote today about an appeals court ruling that placing a disruptive student in "timeout" repeatedly did not violate the student's constitutional rights. H. Jeffrey Marcus, an attorney in western New York state who represents parents, has blogged about a U.S. District court decision that denies reimbursement for private placement to a parent ...


Back in June, I wrote a blog entry about an Arizona appeals court halting a voucher program for students with disabilities and students in foster care. At the time, I wrote that I understood why people might support a voucher program for students with special needs, but I was a bit more skeptical that foster children have the same need for special schools. This Houston Chronicle article, however, outlines some of the educational difficulties faced by children who are adopted, and I would imagine that children in foster care might have some of the same challenges. Because of abuse, genetic ...


Honestly, I've been so starved for political news this year that actually relates to special education, I'll even take this tidbit, nestled in a speech that former New Hampshire governor and current Senate candidate Jeanne Shaheen made Wednesday: "The federal government has made a commitment to the states to ensure children with disabilities receive an equal opportunity for an excellent education, and we should honor that commitment by setting a goal of fully funding IDEA within eight years. ... We need a senator who will fight for special education funding instead of voting against it eight times. We need a new ...


If you live or teach in Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa or West Virginia, your state is required to use response to research-based intervention to determine if a child has a learning disability, as opposed to using the "severe-discrepancy" model based on IQ tests. This is according to a new survey (pdf) recently released by Project Forum, a federally-funded research organization under the umbrella of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education. It's the most up-to-date report I've seen that attempts to drill down into state policy on RTI. Now, buckle in for some background... Schools that use ...


Lance T. Izumi, the director of education studies for the conservative Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco, wrote an editorial for the San Francisco Chronicle arguing that exit exams could help, not hurt, students in special education: Some districts, instead of complaining, have risen to the challenge by implementing programs such as pre-exit-exam academic boot camps for special ed students. Higher expectations for special ed students and greater confidence in their abilities underlie such efforts. A positive agenda focused on getting special ed students to pass the exit exam will, in most cases, help these young people succeed in life ...


On the bottom right, you can see a list of some of the blogs I follow, but I know there are many more that I'm missing, particularly ones that are devoted to specific disabilities. Feel free to add some suggestions in comments....


The state of sex education for students with developmental disabilities is a story idea that's been on my plate for ages, and I now may have a good "hook:" Researchers in Philadelphia have tracked rates of treatment of sexually transmitted infections among more than 50,000 Medicaid*-eligible 12- to 17-year-olds, including about 8,000 receiving special education services, in the Philadelphia school district. In Philadelphia, unlike in many districts, students who are gifted are also provided with an individualized education program, and thus were included in this count. The study found: For males, being classified as [learning disabled] was ...


It's not a surprise to me that raising a child with a disability could be more costly than raising a typically developing child, particularly because of the cost of health care. A researcher recently put a price tag on the burden shouldered by parents annually in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The average extra cost borne by families across the country is $774. Families in Massachusetts have the lowest out-of-pocket costs, at about $560 a year. Families in Georgia, however, have to pay the most -- about $972 a year. The full ranking table is here. Paul ...


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  • sdc teach: I agree with the previous post regarding the high cost read more
  • Jason: That alert is from 2001. Is there anything more recent read more
  • Vikki Mahaffy: I worked as a special education teacher for 18 years read more
  • paulina rickards: As it relates to this research I am in total read more
  • Anonymous: Fully fund the RTI process. We are providing special education read more