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Moving On From 'On Special Education'

Florida health care regulators say the reasons behind the placement of hundreds of severely disabled children in nursing homes comes down to money.

In this gripping piece, my former colleague Carol Marbin Miller at the Miami Herald writes about how these decisions are made and gives us an inside look at the hearings held to decide that these children shouldn't be raised at home.

This entire saga has troubled me from my perch here at On Special Education. I've learned so much in the nearly two years I've written about students with disabilities for Education Week, including, in this case, a lot I didn't know about federal and state government roles in the care of children with especially severe disabilities.

I've learned how iPads and other tablet computers can change the lives of some students with disabilities. I reported about how private school vouchers for students with disabilities may be politically motivated—and have nothing to do helping special needs kids. Somehow, I managed to get deep into the intricacies of special education spending rules, including how South Carolina and the federal Education Department are still wrestling over a major penalty issued just a few months ago.

As readers, over the last year you looked most at my writing about autism, including a change in the official definition of this disability. That issue won't be resolved even when the manual where that definition resides is published later this year, I'm sure. And going forward, neither will there be easy resolution of how special education teachers are evaluated, something you were also highly interested in.

I won't be writing about those students or teachers in particular anymore, however. Starting now, my focus is shifting to writing exclusively about student health, discipline, and safety and school climate. These areas have certainly collided in my time here at Education Week, most recently following the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.—in which there are questions about whether the shooter had a disability or mental health disorder. You can find more information about the kinds of subjects I'll be tackling exclusively over at the Rules for Engagement blog.

I'm moving on with a heavy heart, but I am soothed by the fact that my able colleague, Christina Samuels, will be rejoining you in this space. Christina has a long history of covering special education and is, I'm sure, already familiar to many of you.

And because, as many of you have told me, special education students are general education students first, I have no doubt I won't be as far removed from many of the issues I've written about here as I am thinking I might be now.

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