The GothamSchools blog recently posted about a move in New York City to standardize the forms used to create individualized education programs, the blueprint for educating students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. One example of a problem for some advocates: A drop-down menu gives only two choices for a child’s Behavior Intervention Plan: Time Out Room and Other. “What does ‘other’ mean?” speakers wanted to know, questioning why more positive behavioral interventions hadn’t been specified as options. Since “Other” is vague, the drop-down menu will lead to people defaulting to Time Out Room rather ...


Mark Miller, who blogs at Special Needs Truth '08, has a list of actions that disability advocates can continue post-election. As I've said several times on this blog, I am not a one-issue voter, even though I care deeply about issues related to disabilities. The best thing for families dealing with special needs will be what's best for all families -- including a strong economy, dependable health coverage, and fairness in all government programs. His excellent suggestions include writing letters to Barack Obama, John McCain and Sarah Palin, encouraging them to continue promoting the needs of people with disabilities. He ...


I think it's safe to say that financial pressures will prevent President-elect Obama from immediately addressing an issue like increased funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which he supports. In the short term, however, it is poosible that school districts could see a reversal of some Bush administration cuts to Medicaid spending that they said would affect the services that they provide to students with disabilities. Congress already gave schools a little bit of breathing room on these cuts, as I wrote back in January: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plans to halt the reimbursements for ...


I'm really excited about this: my colleagues at the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center (part of the same nonprofit that publishes Education Week) will be releasing a report on Monday that explores critical issues in special education, with a particular focus on high school students and transition issues. As a part of the release, we're hosting four online chats exploring different topics related to older students in special education. Here's a link to a page describing both the report and the chat series, which will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. EST every Monday in November. I'll ...


During last week's speech outlining the future McCain administration's goals for special education, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said that the administration would refocus the special education law so that federally-funded parent centers would work with infants and toddlers: Once a condition is known, parents need the best and latest information on what to expect and how to respond. This service is also provided for under the IDEA. And we will make sure that every family has a place to go for support and medical guidance. The existing programs and community centers focus on school-age children -- overlooking the need ...


Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate, delivered a speech this morning in Pittsburgh outlining policy goals for special education and disability advocacy in a McCain administration. Palin outlined a handful of goals, among the most sweeping of which would be portability of federal funds designated to states to educate children with disabilities and full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Palin cited Florida's McKay Scholarships for students with disabilities, which allow parents to take the money that a school district would use for educating their child and use it for private school tuition. Palin said in a ...


Sarah Palin's sister Heather Bruce, who has a 13-year-old son with autism, gave an hourlong interview on Autism One Radio yesterday where she talked about her own experiences with her child and how her family situation has affected her sister's views. Autism One Radio is an interesting entity: Autism One is a nonprofit advocacy organization founded by parents of children with autism, and the "radio station" is entirely Web-based, which allows programs to be downloaded and consumed at any time, by any one who has a computer. Bruce, who lives with her husband and three children in Anchorage, spent most ...


And now, time for a purely "good news" story: The Chicago Tribune ran a delightful article a few days ago about a young woman with Down syndrome who was chosen as homecoming queen. Now that she's royalty, Anne Jennings dances down the hallways, bursts into excited giggles and hugs her BFFs, or "best friends forever," without warning. Of course, she did pretty much all those things before being named homecoming queen at Libertyville High School, but somehow, life has become more magical. As a 17-year-old with Down syndrome, the senior "has been walking on air" since being crowned this month. "Before,...


For an observer of special education, the District of Columbia system is in a class by itself, unfortunately. It suffers from a "perfect storm" of education issues: not enough programs for students with disabilities, some demoralized staff, and a class-action lawsuit on behalf of underserved students looming over everything. The district spends millions of dollars a year on out-of-district placements for students with disabilities and is struggling to bring that figure down. Now, Richard Nyankori, the acting deputy chancellor for special education, has said what a lot of people already believe to be true: some staff members aren't paying attention ...


The Associated Press ran a compelling article this weekend about the use of "time-out" rooms for students with disabilities. After failing to finish a reading assignment, 8-year-old Isabel Loeffler was sent to the school's time-out room — a converted storage area under a staircase — where she was left alone for three hours. The autistic Iowa girl wet herself before she was finally allowed to leave. Appalled, her parents removed her from the school district and filed a lawsuit. Some educators say time-out rooms are being used with increased frequency to discipline children with behavioral disorders. And the time-outs are probably doing ...


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