April 2009 Archives

Honoring a "Passion and a Calling"

Teaching at-risk youth allows a chance to "rewrite their stories," said Anthony Mullen, a special education teacher and the 2009 recipient of the Teacher of the Year Award.


Supreme Court Hears Case on Private-Placement Reimbursement

Is a student who never received special education services in his home school district eligible to be reimbursed for getting such services at a private school? The Supreme Court hears the case.


Connecticut Special Education Teacher to Be Honored as Teacher of the Year

A release from the Council of Chief State School Officers: “A teacher can receive no greater reward than the knowledge that he or she helped recover a lost student.” That statement by Anthony Mullen comes from a lifetime of service in the public sector, first as a New York City police officer and then, to further transform the fractured lives of young people in crisis, as a teacher and mentor of teenagers who truly need a second chance. Because of his innovative approach, community focus, and teamwork with other teachers, Mullen will be named 2009 National Teacher of the Year ...


Seclusion and Restraints: Overblown Concerns?

A reader suggests that restraints and seclusion aren't as dangerous to students in special education as disability advocates suggest.


Your Thoughts on Restraints and Seclusion

A few days ago I finished an article on the use of restraints and seclusion in schools, prompted by a report from the National Disability Rights Network, "School is Not Supposed to Hurt." (pdf) The Government Accountability Office, a Congressional watchdog agency, is working on its own report about the same topic. The National Disability Rights Network, formerly known as the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems, represents the protection and advocacy agencies that are in each state. (You can find a link to your state's P&A agency here.) After a media expose in the 1970s of mistreatment ...


'The Disease From Abroad'

The past few days have featured news stories in various publications about the prevalence of autism among Somali immigrants in the United States: First, there was a March article in the New York Times. Then there was this story and this one, both published in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in April about the topic. From one article: Abdull, 36, was one of the first parents to sound the alarm that a surprising number of Somali-American children were enrolled in autism classes in Minneapolis. More than a year ago, she started calling local, state and federal officials to raise her concerns, and ...


Focusing Federal Dollars in Disability Research

I love it when the federal government gets all 21st-century on us. The federally-mandated Interagency Committee on Disability Research is charged with developing an agenda to guide how our government's research dollars are spent in this area. And, they want to hear from you! So for the first time, they've created a web-based interface to collect comments. After you create an account, you can offer your comments through the web portal until April 17. The committee is seeking comments on these issues : Collaboration and coordination among federal agencies; Health information technology and/or electronic health records; Health disparities; Health promotion ...


The Economy and Transition

When I was working on my story about transition for students with disabilities, I wondered what role the sputtering economy might play in efforts to find good jobs for adults who may be looking for vocational employment. According to this article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the picture doesn't look good: Photos line the hallway outside the Elmbrook Work Center, showing smiling students delivering office mail, washing dishes, stuffing envelopes and shredding paper - part of contracts forged with private businesses and other entities. For the center based at the Elmbrook School District's Fairview South School, where job training is provided ...


Kindle 2's Voice is Muted; Disability Groups Plan Protest

When Amazon's Kindle 2 was released in February, the e-book reader was thinner and lighter than its predecessor--and also included a text-to-speech feature that could convert e-books into serviceable audiobooks. That functionality attracted the attention of the Authors Guild, which has represented writers in this country since 1912. Audiobook rights are a potentially lucrative part of an author's publishing contract, and the group was concerned that the Kindle 2 offered the ability to breach an author's copyright. In response, Amazon has offered publishers the ability to disable the text-to-speech functionality of the device for individual books. But that move has ...


Education Department Releases IDEA Guidance on Stimulus

The U.S. Department of Education has put out a 22-page set of guidelines (pdf) on how to spend stimulus dollars for the Individuals With Disabilities Act, Part B (5- to 21-year-olds) and Section 619 (3- to 5-year-olds) States will receive $11.7 billion over the next two years for these programs. There are also guidelines (pdf) for stimulus funding for IDEA Part C (infants and toddlers). That program will receive $500 million over two years. The guidance is written in a convenient question-and-answer format, and I will be digging further into it a little later. I invite readers to ...


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