Remember them? They were created in the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The department was to give 15 states the opportunity to develop ways to cut down on individualized education program paperwork for teachers and districts. I last wrote about this in 2006, and never heard about the pilots again. Will they be revived under a new secretary of education? I was thinking about paperwork reduction as I was reading the policy prescriptions included in the last chapter of Thomas Hehir's 2005 book, New Directions in Special Education. Hehir, now a professor at Harvard University, is ...


I wrote a blog post in December that referred to a CNN.com report on seclusion in schools. A poster called "NYS Teacher" posted a comment yesterday that I thought was worth bringing to the top: You know...this really makes me mad! We have had 'chill rooms' as you call them, for years. In some cases, we have had to use restraint. What are we supposed to do as Teachers??? Any ideas?? Do we allow students to throw things at us, spit at us, hit us, kick us, pinch us, bite us, punch us, use an instrument to attack ...


Happy New Year, everyone! I'm taking a reporting trip this week that will have me posting lightly until Jan. 12 (teaser: it involves RTI!) But you won't have to go without special education reading. Here's some blog posts I have picked up in the past few days: Jay P. Greene, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, slices and dices numbers in a blog post that rebuts the idea that special education costs are to blame for rising per-pupil costs. School officials — people who should know better — play upon this popular prejudice to rationalize their failures. They would never dare ...


University of Virginia professor and friend-of-the-blog John Wills Lloyd has a thoughtful entry on his own blog about the difference between pursuing "access" for people with disabilities, as opposed to "success." He explains it would be a "cruel irony" if the focus on access for students with disabilities -- for example, "talking books" or use of scribes -- overshadowed the pursuit of genuine academic achievement for students in special education....


Project Forum, a federally-funded project under the auspices of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, has released reports on several areas, including special education and homeless students, resolution meetings with parents, and support for students with disabilities in private schools. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as well as the McKinney-Vento Act, call for educational services for students who are homeless. Unfortunately, there are many barriers to getting these students the help they are entitled to, as we saw during Hurricane Katrina, for example. This report outlines the problems and offers some potential solutions: for example, having ...


The Burlington Free Press ran an article today about a public school program for children with behavioral and emotional disabilities. Coming on the heels of last week's CNN.com piece about the overuse of "time-out" rooms, this is a welcome shift: So two years ago she established a program that offers students counseling, mentoring, tutoring and a place to calm down in their own school. She stopped sending students to private schools and did without at least five one-to-one aides. The savings: About $220,000 a year, Scheffert estimates. Equally important, she said, children who walk in the door defiantly ...


Catalyst Chicago, an independent news magazine that reports on Chicago Public Schools, has produced an article that outlines Secretary of Education-designate Arne Duncan's role in special education. The reporters of the piece say that special education in Chicago is "dismal." Unfortunately, I have to say that it is not surprising to me that an urban district would be having severe problems providing appropriate services for its students in special education. The question, of course, is what Duncan tried to do to fix the situation, or if he instituted policies that have made things worse. Based on the information presented in ...


Not much, at least as it relates to special education. I've been scouring the web and have come up empty, so I'm throwing this out to readers, particularly those of you in Chicago. Are there any clues we can glean from Duncan's tenure that would be useful to know for parents and special education teachers? Share your thoughts in the comments section....


CNN has an excellent article on its website about the use of seclusion rooms in schools; it's a must-read. It starts with an anecdote about a 13-year-old with behavior problems and ADHD who hanged himself after being put in a seclusion room. It also explores what is known--and not known--about the use of seclusion or "time out" rooms across the country. Dr. Veronica Garcia, New Mexico's education secretary, said her state had found more sophisticated and better ways to solve behavior problems. Garcia, whose brother is autistic, said, "The idea of confining a child in a room repeatedly and as ...


Thirteen/WNET, the flagship public television station in New York, has recently published an article on Temple Grandin, a well-known autism advocate. Grandin, who has Asperger's syndrome, talks about what she believes schools can do to better educate children like her. Autism is a disorder characterized by repetitive behavior and impaired social interaction and communication; Asperger's syndrome is a milder form. Grandin became well-known when she was featured in Oliver Sacks' book An Anthropologist on Mars. Grandin has also written her own book, Thinking In Pictures. An excerpt:: “Teachers tend to focus on the disability,” Grandin said. Ironically, the autism ...


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