New Mission

New Mission


My idea is to explore how other countries around the world are dealing with education and special education issues. I’d like to see different successful schools, wherever they may be, up close. I’d like to sit down with directors and administrators. I’d like to speak with government officials who keep a pulse on the education affairs of their communities. I want to learn more about education around the globe through speaking with locals, seeing the schools, and shaking hands with the people responsible for implementing the systems. If you know of any outstanding (public or private) special needs schools in other parts of the world, I’d love to hear about them. If you know any education experts from around the world, I’d love to be introduced to them. Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts or ideas. Read more about my mission.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Beware Of The Conscientious Teacher

I came across this article that I read a while ago and had put aside to share.  Unfortunately, stories like this one happen all too often:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/07/nyregion/state-backs-up-accusation-by-harris-lirtzman-bronx-teacher-on-special-education-gotham.html

Cuomo Vetoes Special Education Bill

Governor Cuomo has vetoed the special education bill.  I am not surprised by the result for two reasons: (1) It was rushed through the legislature quickly which left some people surprised and others outraged; (2) It gave short shrift to the financial implications of the new law.  Cuomo's main concern was that it "constitutes an overly broad and ambiguous mandate that would result in incalculable significant additional costs to be borne by every school district and taxpayer."  He didn't seem to address the other points in the bill that were aimed at making the special education process less burdensome for parents. 

VETO-130

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices 10th Annual Legislative Breakfast

This morning I had the pleasure of attending the 10th Annual Legislative Breakfast of Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices ("SKHOV").  For those who are not familiar, SKHOV is a private special education school in Brooklyn dedicated to the education of children with autism spectrum disorders through the use of appropriate evidence-based education and therapy programs.  The school offers parents a panoply of valuable services, resources, trainings, and supports (www.hear-our-voices.org).  This morning's star-studded event included appearances from the following individuals, among others:

  • NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn
  • Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer
  • Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
  • Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder
  • Assemblyman Dov Hikind
  • Councilman Mark Weprin
  • Councilman David Greenfield
  • Councilman Dominic Recchia Jr.

Mayor Bloomberg, though not in attendance, delivered encouraging words by letter. 

The event, presented by Founder and CEO of SKHOV Joshua Weinstein, was well-attended, full of energy, and sprinkled with commitments of continued funding and support for the battle against autism.  Awards were bestowed upon a select group of honorees.

 Anyone in attendance would have noted the diversity in the racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds of the individuals who spoke, which is fitting, and emblematic of the fact that autism knows no racial, cultural, or religious bounds. 

Day-in and day-out I am inspired by my clients, their families, and their stories.  Today's event, however, was inspirational in a different way, and a powerful reminder of our ability, as a group, to effect meaningful change for those who need it the most.

Fate Of The Special Education Bill

For those wondering what ever happened with the special education bill, it appears that Governor Cuomo only received it from the state senate (which sat on it for a while) on Friday, July 20.  If my calculations are correct, the governor has until August 3 to decide whether to sign or veto the bill.  Passage of the bill has engendered both zealous support and staunch opposition.  We will keep our ears open for further developments.     

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Will Governor Cuomo Sign The Special Education Bill?

The hubbub about the special education bill continues.  There was a story about it in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/nyregion/albany-bill-would-add-family-to-special-education-factors.html?_r=1&emc=tnt&tntemail0=y

The Wall Street Journal has reported on it:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304211804577501082865373076.html?KEYWORDS=fleisher

The mayor's office sent out a press release opposing the move.

The bill purports to do three things: (1) force school districts to take into account a child's home environment and family background when making decisions about special education placement; (2) change the timelines for due process proceedings and reimbursement with the goal of speeding up the process; and (3) ensure that, once a private school is deemed appropriate, it continues to be treated as appropriate until the school district changes the child's IEP.  Again, I say "purports" because what this means exactly still needs to be worked out. 

Schools and school districts are waiting in the wings to see how this will affect their regular course of business.  Some questions that remain to be answered:
  • What does it really mean to consider a child's "home environment and family background," and are there parameters? 
  • To what extent will this decrease litigation and reduce the high cost that such litigation typically entails?  
  • How will this affect the district's process of making placement recommendations? 
  • What, if any, effect will this have on the way in which State Ed treats private schools?
  • To what extent does this bill comport with applicable federal law relating to children with disabilities?     
I believe the governor has ten days from the time he receives the bill to approve or veto.  To my knowledge he has not yet received it from the legislature.  Stay tuned.