My mission is to explore how other countries around the world are dealing with education and special education issues.
I would like to visit and observe different types of schools that have proven records of success, wherever those schools may be. I would like to meet with school directors and administrators, government officials, leaders in the business world, and others who are responsible for implementing education systems or otherwise connected to education to learn more about how education is being addressed in their communities.
If you know of any remarkable schools in other parts of the world (especially special needs schools), please let me know about them. If you know of any education experts who are engaged in remarkable work in this field, please introduce me to them.
Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts or ideas regarding the above. Read more about my mission here.
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Friday, June 24, 2011
For those interested, the text of the bill can be viewed at:
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Interesting Example Of The Interplay Between State And Federal Governments When It Comes To Special Education Funding
Full text available at:
Why should you be concerned? Two bills before the Senate (S5816 and S5758A) would:
To read the full text of these bills, visit http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menuf.cgi. Type in the bill number, click on the box at the top of the page that says "text," and then hit "search." The proposal about reducing the statute of limitations from 2 years to a shorter period has been attempted before and has failed. Mediation is intended to be an alternative to an impartial hearing, not a prerequisite. The passage of either of these amendments would be an abrogation of the rights that parents currently possess.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Secretary Duncan has spoken about the possibility of Congress amending and re-authorizing the law, and what action needs to be taken if Congress fails to do that. He has suggested using his "executive authority" to absolve states of some of these requirements by granting waivers...since NCLB provides that "the secretary may waive any statutory or regulatory requirement of this act". According to some accounts, if we judged public schools right now according to the standards in NCLB, most would qualify as failing. I think that Secretary Duncan's outspokenness on this issue has reminded us that strict requirements for accountability and threats of closure alone are not enough to improve our education system and the way our children learn. Recognizing the ways that we screwed up with NCLB and figuring out what would be realistic goals for the next ten years is a pivotal step for the future of our country.
Under the law, in certain situations you have to notify the school district that you are planning to place your child in a private school and seek reimbursement for the tuition. The law says that reimbursement may be reduced or denied if parents do not provide such notice and explain their concerns and why they are rejecting the district's program. Because the law says "reduced or denied" a hearing officer or review officer has discretion about whether to throw out the case completely or simply reduce the parent's award - here the SRO used his discretion to throw out the case completely. His reasoning was that the parents failed to identify the nature of their concerns about the IEP and/or the recommended school placement prior to enrolling their child in the private school. What the letter did say, albeit a bit vaguely, was that the recommended public school placement could not provide appropriate grouping based on student ability or meet the child's specific individualized needs. The letter said that the nature of the issues with the offered program/placement would be explained in the impartial hearing request.
The difficulty with this case is that the SRO agreed that the IEP created by the CSE was inappropriate and that Bay Ridge Prep was appropriate. The IEP goals failed to address several of the child's core areas of difficulty. The SRO agreed that Bay Ridge Prep was an appropriate program capable of addressing these needs. So the issue was just how to come down in this case...and the SRO came down against the parent despite evidence that the parent(s) had participated in numerous CSE meetings, had visited the recommended schools, and had communicated with the school district. This was not enough for the SRO who decided the equities against the parent.
One takeaway message from this case is the importance of being clear about the reasons for rejecting a specific program or placement. If you've mentioned your concerns at an IEP meeting, it's probably also a good idea to follow up with a clear letter so there's no confusion. Another point to take away is that a hearing officer or review officer's has a certain amount of discretion - his or her use of that discretion can be the deciding factor in your case.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Read article at:
The following is a list of some of the changes being proposed by the NYS Board of Regents as an effort to reduce the obligations of school districts to parents of children with special needs:
- Eliminate the requirement that a psychologist attend each CSE meeting, and the requirement that a parent member attend each CSE and CPSE meeting
- Eliminate the requirement that a school physician attend the meeting when timely requested by the parent
- Change the requirement that the parent selects the preschool evaluator and instead allow the school district to make that decision
- Establish that all public school districts are approved evaluators for pre-school purposes
- Change the timeline governing school districts' obligation to conduct an initial preschool evaluation from 30 school days from the time of parental consent to 60 calendar days from the time of consent
- Modify the level of required testing with respect to initial evaluations
- Eliminate the requirement that school districts have plans and policies for appropriate declassification when it is determined that an individual no longer has special education needs
Their argument is that NYS went beyond its call of duty when the legislature enacted laws that were stricter than what federal law mandated. In some areas NY law does require things that federal law does not address (see http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/policy/mandaterelief-fed-vs-state.htm). Presumably that was because the legislature understood that federal law didn't go far enough and that education was an issue important enough to require heightened responsibilities. New York is known for its availability of services for children with special needs but at the same time there are many families being deprived of services they are entitled to. As important as the budget is, reducing school district responsibilities can have long-term consequences. I'm not sure if requiring the presence of a school psychologist at IEP meetings is what's breaking the bank or most in need of reform. We need to address the sheer number of students who require special education supports and I'm not sure that our education system is in such a state that we should be looking to abrogate parent and child rights.
New York City - June 28, 2011 at 2:00 p.m.
Rochester - June 28, 2011 at 2:00 p.m.
Albany - June 29, 2011 at 2:00 p.m.
For more information about these public hearings visit http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/policy/mandaterelief-publichearing611.htm.
Details of these proposed changes will be discussed in the next blog post.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Read the article at: