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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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Cardozo Law School Symposium on Personhood and Civic Engagement by People with Disabilities

This is a follow-up to my previous post about Cardozo's Symposium on Personhood and Civic Engagement by People with Disabilities.  Those who attended the symposium were rewarded with a fantastic event consisting of thought-provoking panels and highly esteemed panel members.  Some of the biggest highlights for me included: 

1) Rosemarie Garland-Thomson's discussion about personhood and the roles that government, science, and culture play in defining it.  She spoke captivatingly about the study of eugenics and the role it has played in influencing society's views toward and treatment of people with disabilities throughout history.  I was surprised to learn of a quote from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes from Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (May 2, 1927), a case which is considered to have legitimized the eugenics movement in the U.S., in which Justice Holmes stated "three generations of imbeciles are enough" in supporting a Virginia statute providing for the sexual sterilization of those deemed to be unfit to bear children.  That led me to do some further research.  If you'd like to read more about this case and its role in the eugenics movement, check out Buck v. Bell and HuffPo.

The eugenics movement in the U.S. and the aftermath from World War II and the Holocaust led to a series of declarations, agreements, and laws regarding personhood, including the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA or EHA), which later evolved into the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).      

2) Eric Rosenthal's talk about his organization Disability Rights International (DRI), which is dedicated to the protection and full inclusion of children and adults with disabilities under international human rights law.  Learning about and fighting for the rights of people with disabilities on an international level is something that interests me deeply.  One of the points from Eric's talk that stayed with me was the importance of directing foreign aid in an appropriate manner so as to bring about positive and meaningful results instead of perpetuating organizations that may be harmful.  More information about the organization and its work can be found on DRI's website at

3) Judge Kristin Booth Glen'sRobert Dinerstein's, and Leslie Salzman's lectures about exercising legal capacity.  Specifically, they addressed some of the problems with guardianship and the extent to which guardianship takes away decision-making power from the individual and deprives the individual of opportunities to interact meaningfully with others. They also explained the concept of Supported Decision Making, meant to provide individuals with disabilities more decision-making power through a series of contracts to make and communicate their decisions for various situations.  This raised a number of questions for me, such as: how would these agreements be written, what kinds of decisions would they address, how would they be implemented and enforced, what costs would be involved for the individual's family, and what kind of legislation would be necessary to make this possible. 

Other highlights from the symposium included watching a powerful video performance of "Gimp" by the Heidi Latsky Dance group, an organization dedicated to broadening exposure to disability and dance, and hearing from Bernard Carabello, a former inmate at the infamous Willowbrook State School in New York, who collaborated with Geraldo Rivera to expose Willowbrook's abuses, which led to the shuttering of the institution and the start of a movement to end institutionalization and promote inclusion. 

Cardozo will be publishing scholarly articles written by some of the panelists on some of these topics in an upcoming law review journal.  I will be looking out for it.   

I also want to note that it's been almost 9 years since I graduated from Cardozo.  Union Square is still young and cool.  The New School still dominates the corner of 14th Street and 5th Avenue albeit in its new honeycomb form.  NYU's presence continues to be felt (even more so now that they have taken over the old Forbes building directly across from Cardozo).  And as much as the area has stayed the same, I know I have not, and it was interesting to reflect upon that as I walked from the subway station to the school.   

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cardozo Law School Symposium on Personhood and Civic Engagement by People with Disabilities

I am excited to be returning tomorrow to Cardozo Law School, my alma mater, for a symposium on personhood and civic engagement by people with disabilities.  I hope to write a post later with some highlights from the event.  In the meantime, here is an overview of the program:

Personhood and Civic Engagement 
by People with Disabilities: 
A Conference to Explore the Legal Underpinnings of Personhood and the Barriers to Participation by Persons with Disabilities in Civic and Social Life

A Cardozo Law Review Annual Symposium 
The Symposium will feature Professor Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, as the Keynote Presenter, and Professor Samuel Bagenstos, as the Featured Lunchtime Speaker. Panels will focus on the topics of Personhood in Popular Culture, Exercising Legal Capacity, and the Uses of "Disability," as well as Strategies for Promoting Inclusion.
Thursday, February 23, 2017
9:00 a.m - 7:15 p.m.

8:30 am - 9:00 am - Registration and Breakfast (Lobby)

9:00 am - 10:00 am - Keynote Presentation by Professor Rosemarie Garland-Thomson (Moot Court Room)

10:00 am - 11:15 am - The Interplay Between Notions of Personhood in Popular Culture and Developments in the Law (Moot Court Room)
Moderated by David Ferleger, Esq. 
  • Elizabeth Francis Emens, Columbia Law School
  • Faye Ginsburg & Rayna Rapp, New York University 
  • Jerron Herman, Heidi Latsky Dance
  • Ruth Lowenkron, New York Lawyers for the Public INterest

11:30 am - 1:00 pm - Exercising Legal Capacity: Legal Barriers to the Actualization of Personhood (Moot Court Room)
Moderated by Robert Fleischner, Center for Public Representation 
  • Robert Dinerstein, American University Washington College of Law 
  • The Honorable Kristin Booth Glen, City University of New York School of Law
  • Arlene S. Kanter, Syracuse University College of Law
  • Danielle Lazzara, Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC)
  • Leslie Salzman, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

1:00 pm - 1:30 pm - Lunch (Lobby)

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm - Featured Lunchtime Presentation by Professor Samuel Bagenstos (Moot Court Room)

2:45 pm - 4:15 pm - On the Uses of "Disability" in Pursuing and Realizing Rights (Moot Court Room)
Moderated by Professor Mark Weber, DePaul University College of Law 
  • Kevin Cremin, MFY Legal Services, Inc. 
  • Rebekah Diller, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
  • Leslie Francis, University of Utah, & Anita Silvers, San Francisco State University
  • Shira Grabelsky, New Mexico School for the Deaf
  • The Honorable Robert M. Levy, Eastern District of New York

4:30 pm - 5:45 pm - Strategies for Promoting Inclusion (Moot Court Room)
Moderated by Professor William Brooks, Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center 
  • Ruth Colker, Mortiz College of Law
  • Anne Emerman, Social Worker, Disability Rights Activist 
  • Sagit Mor, University of Haifa
  • Eric Rosenthal, Disability Rights International

5:45 pm - 7:15 pm - Reception & Dinner to honor the Keynote Presenter, Featured Lunchtime Presenter, Panelists and Moderators (Lobby)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Betsy DeVos Confirmed As U.S. Education Secretary

Betsy DeVos was confirmed as education secretary today by Vice President Mike Pence as a result of a 50-50 tie in the senate.

The nomination, and now confirmation, of Ms. DeVos has been extremely controversial.

Critics of Ms. DeVos have pointed out that she is unaware of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the expansive federal law governing the rights of students with disabilities; that she has no experience with public school education and does not understand how the public education system works; and that her efforts relating to charter schools and voucher systems have not been effective.

Supporters of Ms. DeVos believe that an emphasis on charters and vouchers will give low-income families more choices as to where to send their children to school and force public schools to become more competitive.

Some other questions and concerns to note about DeVos's educational agenda:

  • Where will the funding for charter schools/voucher programs come from? 
  • What level of oversight/accountability will be imposed? 
  • Will vouchers be available to all or means-based? 
  • Can vouchers work with programs that follow a for-profit model? 

My personal thoughts will follow in a separate or updated post soon.

In the meantime here are some recent articles on the subject:

NY Times: Betsy DeVos Confirmed as Education Secretary; Pence Breaks Tie

The Atlantic: 5 Things to Know About Betsy DeVos, Trump's Pick for Education Secretary