At two recent town hall meetings, both Barack Obama and John McCain reiterated their desire to see more money go to special education. Obama's comments, made Aug. 19 in Raleigh, N.C., were posted on YouTube: An audience member told Obama, a Democrat, about her experiences with her 3-year-old son, who has Down syndrome. She said she was told by doctors that her son was lucky to be getting benefits because he "wasn't really going to be anything in life." She then asked Obama his views on the word "retardation" and on including children with disabilities in daily life. A ...


...somewhat. This information has been available for a while from different sources, but the Council for Exceptional Children has created a voter guide (pdf) that lists the education platforms of the presidential candidates. But don't look for anything from Charles "Chuck" Baldwin (Constitution), Bob Barr (Libertarian) or Cynthia McKinney (Green); their websites are silent on the issue, the CEC says. Barr said he did support that Texas district that is allowing teachers to carry guns to school, though. For more political news, be sure to tune in to the Campaign K-12 blog. My colleagues will be closely following the Republican ...


Edweek.org has just posted an article based on a human-rights group's investigation of corporal punishment in public schools. Human Rights Watch is a strong opponent of paddling in schools, so its report is not a place to find out about the "good side" of paddling. It was joined in the report by the American Civil Liberties Union. Paddling is legal in 21 states, though primarily used in the South, according to statistics gathered for the report from the U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights, which tracks corporal punishment. The report also includes many witness accounts. In ...


The 12,500-student West Aurora district in Illinois plans to expand its co-teaching model this school year, and the teachers involved seem all for it: West Aurora High School teacher Nancy Brown can't wait for the school year to start. "It's the first time in a long time that I've been so excited," she said. The cause of Brown's excitement? A new and improved collaborative teaching program that West High will debut this school year, where special education and general education students will learn side by side in classes taught by two teachers. Brown and nine other teachers have been ...


I like to think of my readers as graduate-level experts on special education, but a little refresher never hurts: This site has some nice basic information about what disabilities are covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and what rights are due to a child with a disability. The "14 Rights of Parents" is quite helpful. If a parent came to you for help with information about navigating the special education system, where would you send them? What tips would you want to make sure that parent was aware of?...


Wrapping up what has become Inclusion Week here at On Special Education, here's news on an advisory council, created by the Mayor of Nashville, that released a report (pdf) on the problems it sees with special education in the 75,000-student Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. The committee's abridged recommendations: *Inclusive practices should be adopted comprehensively across MNPS. *Support of students receiving special education services must become a concern of leadership of the district, not the responsibility of just those in the special education department. *Communication between educators, administrators, and families must improve for positive change to occur within MNPS. *Professional ...


At least, sometimes they are: in my last blog entry, I wrote about a poll that suggested only about a quarter of the public, including public school teachers, supported having children with emotional and behavioral disorders educated in the regular classroom. But parents of children with disabilities in the 10,400-student Tuscaloosa, Ala., district fought a plan to close a school that educated only students with disabilities. The Department of Education's office of civil rights got involved in the Tuscaloosa situation, because parents complained that by taking the children out of Oak Hill School and returning them to their neighborhood ...


Only 25 percent of public teachers believe that students with emotional and behavioral disabilities should be taught in regular classrooms along with other students, according to a poll released today by the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University. (Scroll down to the section titled "Mainstreaming the Disabled" to see the results.) Public school teachers were statistically tied with the public at large; the poll said only 28 percent of the public believes that students with these disabilities should be mainstreamed. My colleague, Linda Jacobson, has written an article about these poll results and what they may mean ...


The New York Times (registration required) recently ran an article about Deborah Phelps, the mother of Olympics swimming sensation Michael Phelps, and some of the academic challenges her son faced. Deborah Phelps is currently the principal of Windsor Mill Middle School in Baltimore County, Md. She's been an educator for more than 30 years. But what strikes me, in this article, is some of the stinging comments that she got from teachers when her son was young: As he entered public school, he displayed what his teachers called “immature” behavior. “In kindergarten I was told by his teacher, ‘Michael can’t...


The New York Times pulled no punches in an Aug. 8 editorial published Aug. 8: Many of America’s juvenile jails would be empty if the public schools obeyed federal law and provided disabled children with the special instruction that they need. The editorial was based on a report from the Texas Youth Commission's office of the independent ombudsman, which recently released an evaluation of the educational services provided by the state juvenile corrections agency. From the ombudsman's report: Although the law and regulations clearly establish the provisions of [the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act] for incarcerated youth, the implementation ...


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