You may already know that President Obama's close adviser, David Axelrod, has a daughter with epilepsy. This weekend's Parade Magazine interviewed his wife Susan about their experiences with their now 27-year-old daughter, Lauren, and their work on behalf of epilepsy prevention and treatment. Susan began to meet other parents living through similar hells. They agreed that no federal agency or private foundation was acting with the sense of urgency they felt, leaving 3 million American families to suffer in near-silence. In 1998, Susan and a few other mothers founded a nonprofit organization to increase public awareness of the realities of ...


The House Committee On Rules has the full text of the stimulus package on its Web site, and the education spending is included in "Division A" (pdf) of the bill. Be warned: the previous link leads to a 496-page download. Of the $12.2 billion to be directed to special education over this fiscal year and the next, $11.3 billion will be for direct aid to states, $400 million will be for preschool programs (Section 619 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), and $500 million will be for Part C of the IDEA, which covers early intervention programs ...


House education aides say that the $12.2 billion for special education funding in the stimulus package will follow existing funding provisions, as opposed to the broader waivers that were a part of the Senate's version of the stimulus bill. My earlier post on maintenance of effort and "supplement-not-supplant" issues explains why this is an important issue. The Senate version of the stimulus bill would have allowed states to apply for waivers that would let them temporarily use all of their stimulus money to replace state dollars for special education. Disability advocacy groups are likely to be happy about the ...


A special court that was hearing cases by parents who said vaccines caused their children's autism ruled against the families today. The New York Times has a story here, as does the Associated Press (courtesy of USA Today) and The Washington Post. The ruling comes as a blow to thousands of parents who were seeking compensation from the federal government's vaccine injury fund. The parents were arguing that the mercury-based vaccine preservative thimerosal, or the combination measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, prompted the onset of autism in their children. The federal government has set up a special "vaccine fund" that allows people who ...


Interesting story out of the Keystone State: Most school districts in Pennsylvania are not spending enough to meet the basic needs of special education students, according to a new study. The study found that 391 of the state's 501 school districts are spending less than a basic adequacy level on special education. Combined, that amounts to a shortfall of $380 million annually or $1,947 per special education student. The story can be found here. The 48-page study can be found here. (pdf) The firm that produced this report noted that Pennsylvania's funding formula for schools is the source of ...


Politics K-12 is reporting that the stimulus bill agreed to by House and Senate leaders includes $12.2 billion for special education over fiscal years 2009 and 2010, down from the $13.5 billion that was in the individual House and Senate stimulus bills. I'm reaching out to sources to find out more about the issues related to maintenance of effort and supplement-not-supplant. I'll post more when I have it....


When I'm not blogging, I work as a reporter for the fine newspaper that hosts On Special Education. Now I'm reporting a story for Education Week and could use help from some of you. The article is about the transition from high school to postsecondary school for students with disabilities--specifically, a provision in the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Act that requires districts to give graduating students a "summary of performance." This is the entire provision as outlined in the law: Summary of performance.--For a child whose eligibility under this part terminates under circumstances described in clause (i), a local ...


The $13.5 billion in funding for special education that was part of the House economic stimulus bill has survived the companion bill in the Senate, which passed earlier today. Now the two bills have to be reconciled in what is sure to be a contentious process. Though the bills are close in dollar amount--$838 billion in the Senate, compared with $819 billion in the House--they take different approaches to trying to support a foundering economy. One issue among many to resolve will be the differing House and Senate provisions on "maintenance of effort" and "supplement-not-supplant" in special education ...


The Department of Labor released the first official statistics on the employment status of people with disabilities today. The first set of data covers October 2008 through January 2009; statistics will be updated monthly. Perhaps not surprisingly, people with disabilities have higher rates of unemployment compared to their non-disabled peers--13.2 percent compared to 8.3 percent. In November, the Department of Labor also released a survey that measured employer attitudes towards workers with disabilities. That report (pdf) is loaded with interesting information; for example, 33 percent of large companies reported hiring a person with disabilities in the past year, ...


For the special education world, seen perpetually underfunded, the prospect of an infusion of $13 billion over two years in federal stimulus funds might seem like a pretty great deal. But the extra funding has become entangled in spending rules that are a part of the complex Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. And now, some of the same advocates who might be supportive of extra funding are against proposed waiver provisions that they think might ultimately result in fewer programs and services for students with disabilities after the stimulus than before. First, a caution: the stimulus packages are constantly changing ...


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