A leisurely search through Topix led me to a fairly dry article about a Michigan family that is suing a school district over an individualized education dispute. Pretty routine, right? But this caught my eye: "In its 2007-08 budget, the Northport board originally set aside $5,000 for legal costs for the district. In early December it increased that amount to $280,000 and has budgeted $120,000 for the 2008-09 school year, most of which would be used in an appeal depending on how the administrative law judge rules." Wow! Sounds like things are getting a little out of ...


Sort of. Summertime is wonderful at Education Week HQ. After working hard to bring you the best education news all school year long, we get to take a little break, just like the kids, and Education Week becomes Education Every-Other-Week, or so. (Though you can still read all the fresh news you could possibly want at the website.) During the down time, we reporters are asked to produce a"long-range memo" listing some of the topics we would like to write about for the next publishing year. And that's where you come in. I'm looking for good, uncovered topics to ...


Here's something interesting: a college program in Washington state specifically for students with developmental disabilities. Students in the program at Bellevue Community College graduate with an associate's degree in "occupational and life skills." The idea of a transition between high school and the "real world" sounds great. But the price tag of more than $27,000 is a bit of a show-stopper. There have to be less-expensive transitional programs in many communities. Seven years ago, when I was at another paper, I wrote an article about a woman with developmental disabilities who, after graduation, was going to work at this ...


My "neurodiversity" blog post from last week feeds nicely into this Washington Post article about a local school district that has created what some have called "model" classrooms for students on the less-severe end of the autism spectrum. The program, with two teachers and four aides serving 15 children, focuses on two goals: teaching students to recognize and cope with manifestations of their disorder, such as a panic attack in the gymnasium or uncontrollable restlessness in math class; and easing them into regular classes to the greatest extent appropriate, a process called mainstreaming, which drives special education across the country. ...


Savings plans for college education, also known as "529 plans," have been grown tremendously in popularity since they were created in 1996. In those plans, parents can sock away money in different investments to grow free from federal and state income tax until a child is ready to attend college. The money can then be used for tuition and other expenses. A group of congressional leaders wants to expand this tax-free account concept to youth with disabilities, in order to pay for qualified expenses. The Washington Post had a favorable editorial in the paper today about the plans currently working ...


The good, and bad, thing about being an inveterate web surfer is that you never know where you're going to end up. Take yesterday, for example: I started off at blog run by a young feminist, because it was mentioned in a newspaper article I was reading. It led me to another blog that had a post honoring the memory of disability-rights advocate Harriet McBryde Johnson. Johnson, who died earlier this month, was a fierce advocate for people with disabilities, and was also scornful of what she felt were "pity-based tactics" of those who would raise money for research into ...


From the East Valley Tribune comes this story about the Arizona state appeals court putting a halt to a two-year-old voucher program for students with disabilities, and students in foster care. More than 350 schoolchildren in Arizona might be forced to leave their schools this fall, when the state will stop its two-year-old practice of paying for them to attend private schools. The decision to stop payments came as a result of a recent state appeals court ruling that two voucher programs - one for students with disabilities and one for those in the state's foster care system - are ...


I was curious when I started reading this Dallas Morning News article about the trend of school districts using an ombudsman, which is a public official appointed to investigate citizens' complaints against government agencies or officials. I just got a report (pdf) from Project Forum, a project of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, on alternative ways to resolve disputes between school districts and parents of special education students. It left me wondering if an ombudsman could nip problems in the bud before they lead to due-process hearings. After finishing the story, though, I'm skeptical. If I ...


Sometimes my blog subjects and my newspaper stories match up quite nicely: last week, around the same time I read and blogged about a story in Newsweek about a young child with bipolar disorder, I wrote a short column for the newspaper on "systems of care." (Access to Edweek.org is free through June 10) "Systems of care" does not describe a specific program. Instead, it outlines a philosophy of providing services to children with behavior disorders and their families. The idea is that a partnership of public and private resources -- schools, public agencies, mental health providers -- can ...


Education comes in many forms, and right now ballerina Rossana Peñaloza is providing an education for rapt audiences in Mexico through a one-woman performance she gives in a wheelchair. Prior to her performance, she chose to use a wheelchair for six months. "And You, What?" -- the title of Peñaloza's one-woman show -- grew out of those frustrating days. Her "grito" -- a Spanish word that means emphatic cry -- has turned her into an accidental activist, a buzz-generating and provocative voice. All it took was a ballerina willing not to use her legs. She has earned a following among ...


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