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 ...


The Florida teacher who asked her kindergarten students to vote a classmate with Asperger's Syndrome out of the classroom has been reassigned. According to a newspaper account, a police report filed after the incident explains that the decision to take a vote on 5-year-old Alex Barton was a part of a lesson that the children were learning on voting and tallying. The teacher, Wendy Portillo, also told police that the vote was to let Alex know how his behavior was affecting the class, and it was only intended to be for a day. "Portillo said she did this as she ...


My blog post about "books of the future" using principles of universal design for learning brought this comment from source Candace Cortiella, director of The Advocacy Institute, which I thought was worth bringing up: Hi Christina: UDL approaches also extend to large-scale assessment design. The National Center on Educational Outcomes has written a guide for states to help begin thinking about designing assessments (UDA) with all students in mind, just as UDL attempts to design curriculum accessible to the widest range of students right from the start. It would be most unfortunate for UDL to take hold without UDA coming ...


Some stories don't even need a comment: a Florida teacher faces legal action for allowing her students to vote a 5-year-old child with Asperger's Syndrome of out the classroom. After each classmate was allowed to say what they didn't like about Barton's 5-year-old son, Alex, his Morningside Elementary teacher Wendy Portillo said they were going to take a vote, Barton said. By a 14 to 2 margin, the students voted Alex -- who is in the process of being diagnosed with autism -- out of the class. Alex then spent the rest of the day in the nurse's office. The ...


Bipolar disorder among adults is little understood; among juveniles, it's even more of a question mark. Newsweek has a long but engrossing article about a Massachusetts family and their life with their 10-year-old son, Max, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder as well as a host of other problems: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder. In his short life, he has been on 38 different psychoactive drugs. Though the focus of the article is mostly on Max Blake's family life, his school life is mentioned as well. His behavior problems were so severe that he ...


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