New Mission

New Mission

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, April 27, 2012

SRO 11-041

In Appeal No. 11-041, the SRO deals with an IHO decision denying funding for the Robert Louis Stevenson School.  The decision deals with a number of important issues including:
  • The implications of Mr. and Mrs. A. on behalf of D.A. v. NYC DOE (a recent SDNY decision)
  • The issue of notice
  • Reductions in awards for reimbursement/funding
  • Ordering reimbursement "upon proof of payment by parents"
Ultimately, the SRO annuls the IHO's decision, and orders the district to reimburse parents for 75% of the costs of the program upon the parents' submission of proof of payment to the district.

Biomedical Treatment For Autism Symptoms?

Could it be?  Are they on the verge of identifying a drug capable of treating some of the symptoms of autism?  Disability Scoop reports about some promising developments:

Question: what does it mean that "researchers tested the compound on a strain of mice known to exhibit autism-like behaviors" ??

Thursday, April 19, 2012

And Your Candidates For Next Mayor Of NYC Are...

With Bloomberg on his way out, who will take the helm as mayor of NYC and lead the fight for education improvement?

Well, here are your candidates - along with a link to the article that more fully sets out their respective backgrounds, anticipated campaigns, and potential to succeed in the election . . . including commentary by the ubiquitous David Bloomfield, an education policy expert whose name appears everywhere these days when it comes to education. (The quoted text below, as well as some of the content, has been taken from the article referenced at the bottom of this blog post.)  And the nominees for best motion picture are... 

Tom Allon, Manhattan Media CEO 

"He takes issue with the mayor's emphasis on test scores and the administration turnaround program...."

Does his private sector experience and limited education experience conjure up thoughts of Cathie Black?

Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate

"We have got to bring parents to the table and treat them like stakeholders if we hope to make more progress in our schools."

According to Bloomfield, "His challenge will be to move from advocacy, where he has had the luxury of throwing darts at mayoral decisions, to operational authority, where he will have to take action regarding greater rein for his Panel for Educational Policy appointees, hard choices on school closures and co-locations, and applying budgetary discipline to such issues as class size and special education."  

* Cash prize for anyone who can clearly and succinctly describe what the role of "public advocate" entails.

John Liu, City Comptroller 

John Liu wants to shift from "mayoral control" back to "mayoral accountability" - how would one who lacks control be held accountable?  He also wants to create a moratorium on charter-school co-locations which is music to the public schools' ears.  His audits of the DOE have made him front page news in the recent weeks.  He's shown that he can come down hard on the Department, but would he be able to run it better if given the opportunity? 

Christine Quinn, Council Speaker

"I would continue my push to go further, and achieve full municipal control of schools by placing legislative authority with the City Council rather than the state Legislature."  Give the city council lawmaking power?  Is there precedence for that?  Curious to see how it would play out. 

Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President 

"A decade of ideological bickering and constant reorganization is enough."  

Bill Thompson, Former City Comptroller

Bill Thompson ran in the last election and lost.  What would his mark be?  For one thing, he would scale back the mayor's control over the Panel for Educational Policy (which has been thought of, at least throughout Bloomberg's terms, as a brainless puppet that does the mayor's bidding).

Read more here: 

P.S. It's interesting to note that "special education" is mentioned only one time in the entire article.  Special education is not an issue you can get around.  Any serious candidate will need to address this head-on and come up with a realistic and practicable plan that deals with the overall need for special education, its costs, and the resources available for those children who are eligible.

Friday, April 6, 2012

SRO 12-002

SRO Appeal No. 12-002 concerns a child with Down's syndrome who was placed at an independent private school as a result of the school district's failure to provide an appropriate program.  The private school did not employ its own related services providers, instead, relying on the district to provide services to those kids whose IEP's recommended it.  The State attempts to clarify the district's obligation to provide services to a private school student, but after a discussion about the history behind N.Y.'s "dual enrollment" statute, and the proportional funding provisions of the IDEA, the answer was still unclear.

* Note: The school district accused the IHO of incompetence but the SRO declined to find it. 

OSEP Changes Its Mind About "Maintenance Of Effort"

"Maintenance of effort" has been discussed on this blog in the past.  It is the concept that a school district's special education spending, generally, may not dip below total expenditures from the previous year (though there are limited exceptions).  20 U.S.C. 1413(a).

The U.S. DOE's Office of Special Education Programs recently changed its position regarding what level of expenditure a school district has to meet in a given year, where it has failed to meet its requirements in the previous year.  I am providing a link to the letter, Letter to Boundy (April 4, 2012), which concludes that a school district's maintenance of effort obligation is not measured against what the school district actually expended in the previous year, but rather what it was obligated to expend:

As stated above, there are some notable exceptions (e.g., the departure of special education personnel, a decrease in the enrollment of children with disabilities, the termination of previously-costly expenditures), which you can read more about at 20 U.S.C. 1413(a)(2)(B),(C).

* A number of advocacy organizations were involved in making this happen, including the Center for Law and Education, and COPAA. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Today Is World Autism Awareness Day

Today marks the 5th annual World Autism Awareness Day.  See what the White House and United Nations have to say about it:

Are you lighting it up blue?  "Light It Up Blue" has become a worldwide, unified gesture to commemorate autism awareness day around the globe, and has resulted in some picturesque images:

Other related content here: