After a rocky start, Congress had little problem getting enough members to sign on to the $700 billion financial rescue plan of Wall Street late last week, thanks in part to extra projects tacked on like a "mental health parity" provision that would prevent insurance companies from placing different deductibles and lifetime limits on mental health services. The bill has been championed by the mental health advocates like the National Alliance on Mental Illness, according to this article in the New York Times. As I noted in an article that ran in Education Week last month, many children aren't getting ...


I've blogged a few times over the past weeks about the presidential candidates' political stances on special education and disability awareness. Laws that affect people with disabilities, however, go well beyond the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. This month, the Ohio Legal Rights Service, an advocacy organization for adults and children with disabilities, compiled a list of the candidates' stated views on a number of important issues. They include mental-health legislation, employment, and health care. I spotted one missing element in the overview. While it does say, correctly, that Democratic candidate Barack Obama supports increased federal funding of IDEA, the ...


From the Associated Press: More than a dozen of the world's first ladies on Friday called for enhanced research on autism worldwide. Ban Soon-taek, wife of the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, said "not too long ago, those with autism were set aside. Today this reality is still prevalent in some parts of the world." Panama's first lady, Vivian Fernandez de Torrijos, emphasized that early intervention is key. U.S. first lady Laura Bush also sent a note for the event, calling autism "a global health issue." The event was a part of global initiative unveiled today by Autism Speaks. ...


The Center for Learning Disabilities sponsored an online chat on universal design for learning with Patti Ralabate, a special education expert for the National Education Association. The chat is packed with links to great resources on this topic, which advocates creating lessons and classroom materials that are flexible enough to accommodate different learning styles. Once upon a time, when lawmakers on Capitol Hill were still discussing the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, several education and disability advocacy groups came together in support of a provision that would promote universal design in the education law. It was noteworthy for being ...


In January 2008, two representatives from Barack Obama's campaign held a conference call (pdf) with disability advocates to talk about the candidate's platform on a variety of issues. It's several months old at this point, but because disability issues are a bigger part of the campaign than they once were, I though it'd be interesting to share the transcript with those who may not have seen it yet. Rep. Janice Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois and a co-chairwoman of the campaign participated in the conversation, along with Michael Strautmanis, Obama's chief counsel and the father of three children, one of ...


In April, I blogged about a proposed plan in Virginia to change regulations on special education so that parents would not have to be notified before a student's special education services were terminated. At the time, I said that I didn't think the plan was going to go far, which didn't require much insight on my part: Gov. Tim Kaine had already said he was against any such change. And now, the changes have been officially ruled out. The proposed rules changes drew 77,000 comments--the most ever for a rules change, according to a state official....


Project Forum, a federally funded project of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, has released a new publication (pdf) on coordinated early intervening services. Districts are allowed to use part of their federal special education dollars on early intervening services for children who are not in special education, but who need extra academic or behavior help to do well in school. In addition to Project Forum's excellent efforts, please check out a recent article I wrote on CEIS, as well as a blog post that discussed the topic....


Her speech was heavy on economic-policy prescriptions, but on Monday in Golden, Colo., Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin also outlined the issues she would focus on if she and John McCain are elected: energy, government reform, and "special needs." From the speech: I've told Senator McCain a few things I've learned as a senator governor and as a mom. Ever since I took the chief executive's job up north, I've pushed for more funding for students with special needs. It's touched my heart for years, especially about 13 years ago with the beautiful addition to our extended family of ...


On Wednesday, Sept. 17, between 1 and 2 p.m., I'll be moderating an online chat with Professors Lee Kern and Richard White on effective strategies for adolescents with behavioral disorders. This is a follow-up to an article I wrote earlier this month on the topic. Kern is leading a new federal effort that will develop a set of "best practices" for dealing with these students' special needs, and White is the president of the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders, a division of the Council for Exceptional Children. No special equipment is needed to join the chat, just a ...


Yesterday, the Senate passed by unanimous voice vote a measure designed to expand the Americans with Disabilities Act, passed into law in 1990. Now, it joins a similar bill that passed overwhelmingly in the House earlier this year. After differences are, presumably, ironed out in a conference committee and a final bill passes, it will go to President Bush for his expected signature. Supporters of the legislation say that changes in the ADA are needed to push back against court rulings that have inappropriately narrowed the definition of an "individual with a disability." Though most of the news coverage has ...


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