Pew Report Documents Sequestration’s Impact on Special Education

A report from the daily news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts indicates that sequestration is having substantial negative financial effects on special education. Under the headline “Sequester Hits Special Education Like a ‘Ton of Bricks,'” Adrienne Lu reported that “a new round of special education cuts were taking hold, prompted by a 5 percent reduction in federal funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).” According to a Michigan educator, Marcie Lipsitt, who was one of Ms. Lu’s sources, “It hit like a ton of bricks. Conditions are eroding and children are not being allowed to become taxpayers. They’re not being given access to independence, being productive, being ready for a global workforce.”
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Journalism connecting to special education

The Journalism Center on Children and Families of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland announced the recipients of the 2013 Casey Medals, which celebrate the past year’s best reporting on children, youths, and families in the US. Although not all of these awards represent children and youths with disabilities, enough do that I consider it worth reporting here on Spedpro. Those stories among these that I have read capture concepts, emotions, and current issues in exemplary ways. One might not agree with the perspective represented in each and all of them, but they are compelling pieces of journalism. I’ve selected snippets describing a few that connect to special education here. However, go to the site and review the list to find others that are quite compelling.

Everyday Arts for Special Education Summer Teacher Institute

Everyday Arts for Special Education (EASE) Summer Teacher Institute is coming soon in New York City. It’s billed as a research-based, integrated approach for promoting Common Core learning, communication, and socialization for students with disabilities. The principal organizations—the Manhattan New Music Project, New York District 75, Teachers College at Columbia University, and others—have funding from the US Department of Education with an I3 grant for some of their work. The sessions are to be held 15 through 19 July 2013 at the New Design High School (350 Grand Street, New York, NY 10002). There is a fee ($100) that covers curriculum materials and daily lunch. Learn more about the project and register for the event. Learn even more from an article entitled “In District 75, Using the Arts in Everyday Academics” by Yasmeen Kahn that appeared in SchoolBook 16 May.

Sprout Film Festival

The weekend of 31 May through 2 June 2013 marks the run for the 11th Sprout Film Festival. This unique event, which showcases more than 50 films featuring individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities, takes place at the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. There are lots of ways to learn more:

Keep alert for the touring version of the festival, as it often visits many other locations around the US later in the year.

Learn about Maryland Learning Links

MarylandLearningLinks is a new resource that is provided by the Maryland State Department of Education and Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s Center for Technology in Education but is available to educational professionals everywhere. Here is a quick quote from the site:

Maryland Learning Links is the one place to visit for information, guidance and resources related to Special Education and Early Intervention in Maryland. Whether you are an administrator, teacher, provider or parent, you are sure to benefit from the site’s comprehensive and user-friendly blend of knowledge and real-world practice, all of it built on the belief that every child can learn and achieve both inside and outside the classroom.

There is a wide range of resources available at Check on it!

Leadership Funding Announced

Congratulations to professional preparation programs at 13 institutions of higher education around the US that received funding for their leadership preparation programs from the US Department of Education. Under the Special Education-Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities/Preparation of Leadership Personnel from the Office of Special Education Programs, the following schools got grants.

Recipient Grant
University of Arizona $139,723
California State University-Los Angeles $250,000
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American Univ: Open rank position

American University (AU) in Washington (DC, U.S) is searching for an individual to fill an open rank position in special education in its School of Education, Teaching and Health. AU’s program, which focuses on Learning Disabilities, offers opportunities to collaborate with researchers in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience, Disability Studies, or the renowned Lab School. Closing date for applications is 5 October 2012. Download a PDF of AU’s position announcement.

10th Sprout Film Festival

The tenth annual Sprout Film Festival will be showcasing 53 films related to the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities from 13 countries. The festival will take place Friday 27 April – Sunday 29 April 2012 in NYC at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Please visit the Sprout Web Site for the schedule of films and trailers. (For folks in the SpedPro neighborhood, remember that there’s a central Virginia Sprout Festival on 9 March 2012 hosted by PREP, the Parent Resource Center, Very Special Arts, International Organization on Arts and Disability.)

Free Streams: New films are continually added to the national Sprout site. Check out these latest films that can be streamed for free:

Lastly, please take a look at the schedule for the Sprout Touring Film Festival.

US report on testing accommodations

In November the US Government Accounting Office (GAO) released a report entitled “Improved Federal Enforcement Needed to Better Protect Students’ Rights to Testing Accommodations” of a study it performed at the behest of representatives to the US Congress. Based on interviews with individuals with disabilities, educators, advocates, commercial testing companies, and others, the report provides brief insight into testing accommodations at the secondary and post-secondary level and recommendations for government action based on its findings. Interested readers may download a one-page summary of the report from the GAO office.

Full US IDEA funding proposed again

Over on On Special Education Nirvi Shah reported that Senator Tom Harkin and colleagues once again introduced a bill proposing that the US federal government pay its full (i.e., 40%) share of the costs of special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Read her post, “Bill Would Boost Federal Spending on Students with Disabilities.”

Prevalence of developmental disorders

Coleen Boyle and colleagues from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau reported in Pediatrics that, although data about the prevalence of developmental disabilities in the US are scarce, results from surveys conducted during the years 1997-2008 reveal that disabilities are both common and their prevalence is changing. Some results would surprise few (e.g., boys were more frequently reported to have problems than girls), but other results might make people wonder (e.g., the prevalence of hearing disorders reportedly decreased).

Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in US Children, 1997–2008

OBJECTIVE: To fill gaps in crucial data needed for health and educational planning, we determined the prevalence of developmental disabilities in US children and in selected populations for a recent 12-year period.
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Assistant Executive Director at CEC

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) annouced a search for an individual to serve as an assistant executive director and take responsibility for leading the team at CEC that provides professional development services. CEC’s Professional Development Services Team covers a host of important activities at CEC, including the convention, continuing education (e.g., the popular “Webinars”), publications (including the journals such as Exceptional Children), and much more. CEC is seeking someone with an advanced degree and experience in special education.

This is an unusual opportunity to provide leadership in one of the leading organizations focused on special education in the world. It comes at a time when professional development services are changing rapidly and CEC can play an important role in contributing to postive progress for special educators and the children, youth, and families they serve.

Learn more about the position of Assistant Executive Director for Professional Development Services at CEC by downloading a PDF announcing the position vacancy. Learn more about CEC and it’s professional development activities by visiting Professionl Development section of CEC’s Web site.

Milwaukee parents allege voucher program discriminates against students with disabilities

Should students with disabilities get to use vouchers, too? Should private schools have to accept them? Some parents say some private schools aren’t taking vouchers from students with disabilities and they are complaining.

Journalists reported that the parents of children with disabilities in Milwaukee (WI, US) and the American Civil Liberties Union have complained to the US Deaprtment of Justice that a Milwaukee school program permitting parents to choose schools discriminates against students with disabilities. According to the complaint, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program “discriminated against students with disabilities and segregated those students in one portion of the publicly funded educational system.” The statistical basis for the argument is that 1.6% of students in the voucher-supported schools have disabilities, but nearly 20% of the students in the public schools have disabilities.
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