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.
Monday, May 26, 2014
I attended the event on Thursday and truly enjoyed the evening. The event was hosted in a beautiful space in Tribeca. Arriving guests were greeted warmly with music playing in the background and snacks and drinks awaiting consumption. The crowd was intimate and diverse, with various professionals from different backgrounds in the audience. Although a power point presentation and video clip guided the presentation, the conversation was informal and interactive, with audience members sharing their perspectives and personal experiences.
The presentation consisted of many of the same points as were presented at the Brooklyn College event: child-centered approach (letting the child’s interests guide instruction, rather than following a predetermined agenda set by the teacher), teacher/parent as researcher (understanding the child’s interests through observation of the child’s individual movements and patterns), and materials conducive to learning (easily accessible, natural, etc.). The overall message, to put it succinctly: encourage the child to explore and discover!
A point I hadn’t considered prior to this evening was the importance of recording children’s thoughts and comments as they explore and discover, which can help to track and understand the development of a child’s interests and his/her overall personal growth. I developed an appreciation for the importance of exposing children to sensory stimuli early on. Children also need to learn the consequences of their actions through guided exploration, rather than to fear the unknown because of overprotective teachers. To conclude the evening, we explored the similarities and difference among the Reggio Emilia model, the Montessori approach, and Dr. Stanley Greenspan’s DIR/Floortime methodology.
It’s unclear to me, however, whether this Workforce Bill is the right approach for addressing this issue. According to Education Week (see http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2014/05/bipartisan_bicameral_workforce.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CampaignK-12+(Education+Week+Blog%3A+Politics+K-12), the primary purpose of the bill is not K-12 education but rather workforce training issues, including adult education. But the bill continues to fund a number of K-12 programs, which I imagine would leave less money for supportive employment for individuals with special needs. If the part of the bill that focuses on youths concerns itself not only with individuals with special needs but also high-school dropouts and disadvantaged youth who are pursuing GED’s or vocational training, which seems to be the case, how much of the funds would be applied toward special needs individuals?
I haven’t read the existing version of the bill, but I’d be curious to know if it addresses the following points. What kinds of supports would these individuals receive to assist with transitioning to the workforce? For instance, would there be daily support in the form of an on-site job coach or shadow, or perhaps a once a month group training session with some tips on how to act around the office? What kinds of jobs would these individuals be transitioned to? Who would qualify for this program? That is, would more intensive supports be provided for individuals with more severe needs, or would those with more severe impairments be excluded? What employers are participating or will participate in this program, and what training do they/will they receive? How will compensation for disabled individuals compare to the compensation of their nondisabled peers performing the same job?
While this approach to legislation may be politically convenient for the reasons that Education Week identifies, I’m not convinced it represents the kind of broad reform that I think we need to help individuals with disabilities become independent and productive adults. I’d be curious to hear others’ thoughts on this, and would be interested in learning more about what other efforts are being made to address this important issue.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
The U.S. Department of Education supports charter schools’ efforts to provide students, including those in some of the nation’s highest-need communities, with additional meaningful opportunities to receive a high-quality public education. Today, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights has released new guidance (versión en español) providing a reminder that our federal civil rights laws apply to charter schools just as they apply to other public schools.
The guidance explains that the federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in education on the basis of race, color, and national origin; sex; and disability extend to all operations of a charter school, including recruiting, admissions, academics, educational services and testing, school climate (including prevention of harassment), disciplinary measures (including suspensions and expulsions), athletics and other nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities, and accessible buildings and technology.
We hope that the guidance issued today will help enhance the role charter schools can play in advancing equal opportunity for all students. Our office stands ready to provide technical assistance should you or your colleagues need it.
The Office for Civil Rights
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Another point I found interesting was that Educare came about as a result of the work force expansion in Sweden in the 1970's. When more women started working, someone had to look after their children. For a while the program was run under the auspices of the social welfare system. In 1998, Educare officially became part of the educational system.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Sweden is internationally lauded for its public, comprehensive, accessible and affordable Educare system, which provides all Swedish young children with some of the very best care and education. New York City is embarking on a massive expansion of pre-K programs. What can we learn from Sweden's experience?
What: Discussion: "Universal Preschool in Sweden: Inspiration for Progressive Early Childhood Education"
Who: The Brooklyn College Department of Early Childhood and Art Education and the Brooklyn College School of Education
Where: Gold Room, 6th Floor, Brooklyn College Student Center, Campus Road and East 27th Street
When: Monday, May 5th at 6pm
For Information: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org