It's the time of year when high school seniors' thoughts turn to graduation, so two reports from Project Forum and the Center for Education Policy are perfectly timed. The CEC policy brief linked to on this page takes a look at how high school exit exams affect students with disabilities. The conclusion is that they're not so great. States that require students to pass an exam in order to receive a diploma tend to have low graduation rates overall, particularly among students with disabilities. Project Forum, a federally funded program of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, ...


Be sure to catch the premiere of Autism: the Musical at 8 p.m. tonight on HBO. This 90-minute documentary follows five children with autism and their families over six months as they prepare for a full-length musical production. Even better, people without HBO (like me) will be able to see the entire production online beginning Wednesday and ending March 31. The documentary has received positive reviews in Variety, The New York Times, and the Newark Star-Ledger (scroll down past the farewell to Jericho.). I'll be back to update this with my thoughts, but please feel free to post your ...


Liz at the blog I Speak of Dreams had a fascinating analysis of "black cultural learning styles," an idea which she believes should be laid to rest. This idea suggests that black children are shortchanged in "euro-centric" schools because their learning styles are incompatible with most classrooms. This link, though critical of the theory, is helpful because it gives some examples of what a black cultural learning style supposedly is: cooperative rather than competitive, impulsive, and passive, among other characteristics. What really caught my attention was a comment she linked to within her essay, where she quoted a person who ...


I thought New York Gov. David Paterson's blindness was interesting enough to blog about, but it turns out that's not the only interesting thing about him. I think I may leave future political news to my friend Michele over at Campaign K-12!...


I was excited to see an article about disability advocates' view of No Child Left Behind in the Washington Post earlier this week. It offers an interesting perspective about what the federal law has meant for children with disabilities. One of the articles featured source-extraordinaire Ricki Sabia, the associate director of the National Down Syndrome Society Public Policy Center. I've had the pleasure of interviewing Sabia several times. An accompanying article asked whether a push toward inclusion by a local school district has, indeed, left some children behind who might be better served in "special schools" with other children who ...


I admit it: I am a habitual Web surfer. But trolling the Web leads to some fascinating places, including this blog by a 24-year-old teacher of middle school students with behavioral disorders in Newark, N.J. The writer, who goes by the delightfully random name of "liquidwafflegirl," doesn't post half as much as I would like, because I'm always looking for commentary by teachers. But when I read her blog, I understand why she doesn't write often. She really seems to be struggling with demanding students (in one post she said she broke her thumb trying to stop a fight) ...


Lawmakers in Missouri are considering following the lead of four other states that offer vouchers to parents of students with disabilities. I wrote about this issue about a year ago. Now, as then, I wonder: Even when such bills pass, are there enough schools available to accept these children? The Missouri bill would be specifically for children with autism, and the lawmakers for and against vouchers in Missouri make familiar arguments. Those in favor say that such programs are a necessity for parents who don't have good options available to them in public schools. Opponents think it's a ploy to ...


Wow! Well, that was fast. With today's resignation of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson now becomes not only the state's first black governor, but the nation's first blind governor. The New York Times has a profile of Paterson today, which talks about his refusal to learn Braille as a child, his parents' determination to forgo special education for him, and his subsequent high achievement. However, he has been actively involved in disability groups, including serving on the American Foundation for the Blind's board of trustees for nine years. The board has released a statement saying ...


The biggest problem for teachers these days? Overbearing parents, according to a survey of teachers in a well-to-do suburb outside Baltimore. A Baltimore Sun article cited a soon-to-be-released survey of teachers in Howard County, Md., a district of about 48,500 students. The survey reports that 60 percent of teachers have reported harassment, primarily by parents. Those working conditions make it particularly difficult to retain special education teachers, according to the Howard County Education Association, which conducted the survey. The association is an affiliate of the National Education Association. An official with the Carroll County Education Association, the NEA affiliate ...


John McCain has been busy lately--clinching the Republican nomination for president, visiting the White House to receive an official endorsement from President Bush. Not too busy, however, to wade into one of the most controversial issues roiling the autism community. According to a recent New York Times article, McCain said during a campaign stop in Texas that “It’s indisputable that autism is on the rise among children." He continued, "The question is, what’s causing it? And we go back and forth, and there’s strong evidence that indicates that it’s got to do with a preservative in ...


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