This picture shows actor Mark Hamill congratulating Caitlin, the first-prize winner in her grade category at the Braille Challenge, along with second-place winner Michael Chang, a high school senior from California, and third-place winner Albano Berberi of Massachusetts, who will enroll in Wheaton College in the fall. It occurred to me after posting the first part of my Q&A session with Caitlin that some readers may be curious how she has been composing her responses: I guess it's kind of a multi-step process, but it's second nature to me now. If someone has written a long email that I ...


I met a number of wonderful students when I visited Los Angeles for my recent story on Braille literacy, including Caitlin Hernandez, an 18-year-old high school graduate from Danville, Calif. Caitlin is a three-time winner of the Braille Challenge, which tests students' spelling, reading comprehension, transcription speed and accuracy, and proofreading skills. She plans to attend the University of California at Santa Cruz in the fall, and is interested in being an English teacher. She has been generous enough to offer some great thoughts on what it's like to be a student with a disability in a mainstreamed environment. She ...


The New York Times has published a compelling article about the use, and misuse, of restraints with students who have behavior disorders. In dozens of interviews, parents, special education experts and lawyers who work to protect disabled people said they now regularly heard of cases of abuse in public schools — up to one or two a week surface on some parent e-mail lists — much more often than a decade ago. “In all the years I went to school, I never, ever saw or heard of anything like the horrific stories about restraint that we see just about every day now,” ...


This short story about inclusive education published in The Hindu, a large English-language newspaper in India, certainly strikes a familiar chord: K. Rajagopal, former Vice-Chancellor of JNTU, who was the chief guest, underscored the dire need for planning of inclusive education for different stages of retardation. “Educators should be able to handle children according to different levels of retardation,” he said. As I dug into the newspaper's archives, several articles reminded me of many of the issues that we face in the United States. One parent said in this 2007 article that her son was dismissed from five schools in ...


When last we left this one-school, 150-student Michigan district, it had just wrapped up an eight-month, $250,000-plus due process hearing filed by a school board member on behalf of his son. The latest is that Superintendent Tyrus Wessel has resigned to take a job with the Traverse Bay Intermediate School District. The job comes with a $12,000 drop in pay, from the estimated $106,000 that he was going to make as superintendent in the fall to approximately $93,000. Wessell said he won’t miss issues that he said have distracted him and the school community from ...


The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded $4.37 million to 14 universities to train doctoral and post-doctoral students in early intervention, special education, or related services. Said Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings in a press release: "We hope to build a corps of highly qualified personnel to help children with disabilities reach their academic potential. Research has consistently suggested that there is a persistent need for additional special education and related services personnel who have been trained at the doctoral and post-doctoral levels. These experts can play a critical role in improving the quality of services for children ...


The New Teacher Hotline, sponsored by the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, interviewed me in June on a variety of special education topics, including response to intervention and what I really thought about the teacher in Florida who sent a kindergarten student with autism out of her classroom. The podcast is up now. Thanks Mike!...


Candace Cortiella, the director of the Advocacy Institute and a member of the National Center for Learning Disabilities Professional Advisory Board, had an online chat yesterday about learning disabilities -- the transcript is here. There's a lot of good basic information and statistics packed in this chat, particularly relating to No Child Left Behind and NCLD's perspective on how the law's testing provisions should apply to students with learning disabilities....


Here's a perfect story for me to come across after spending the weekend in Los Angeles for the Braille Challenge: a teacher in Connecticut who has created a class for sighted students to learn Braille. That's a unique approach to sensitizing sighted students to the needs of blind students, and it's exciting that one of the students involved said she plans to be a teacher of blind students when she graduates from college. I wish the story had more comment from the blind students, though....


The blog will be quiet while I take a few days off (it's all about the "staycations" these days.) On June 27 and 28 I'll be in Los Angeles for the Braille Challenge, working on an article scheduled to appear in the July 16 issue of Education Week. Feel free to keep coming up with story ideas for the next school year, and I'll see you on June 30th....


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