IDEA Celebration

IDEA 40th Anniversary Banner

ED Celebrates IDEA 40th—Live!

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the U.S. Department of Education and its Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), we are pleased to invite you to view two special events celebrating the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

When IDEA was enacted in 1975, America pledged to provide and ensure that children with disabilities have opportunities to develop their talents and contribute to their communities. That pledge endures today and IDEA continues to provide not only access to the school house, to assessment and to the general curriculum, but the full promise of inclusion, equity and opportunity.

The White House
November 17, 2015
9:30–11:00 a.m., EST

Please share in this exciting White House event where Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Delegated Deputy Secretary John King, OSERS Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin, and OSERS’ Office of Special Education Programs Director Melody Musgrove join the stage with youth impacted by IDEA, experts who will speak about the history and progress of IDEA, and families and teachers from the field who will provide their unique perspectives and celebrate this landmark legislation.

Please watch the White House event broadcast live:

U.S. Department of Education
November 17, 2015
3:00–4:30 p.m., EST

The IDEA 40th Anniversary celebrations continue in the afternoon at the Department•s Barnard Auditorium with an IDEA Symposium where a panel of distinguished researchers share the state of evidence in special education and look towards the future for promoting even greater educational achievement by students with disabilities. Tune in live to the IDEA Symposium to view an inspiring slate of panelists including: Sharon Vaughn, Lynn Fuchs, Rob Horner, Lise Fox, Michael Wehmeyer, Lisa Dieker and David Test.

Please watch the IDEA Symposium broadcast live via EDstream:

These two events will celebrate our past successes, but primarily focus on the future to ensure that infants, toddlers and youths with disabilities will continue to receive a free and appropriate public education that prepares them for their future. We encourage you to participate in the celebration by hosting opportunities for groups to watch the presentations and have discussions. Consider, holding your own local panel of youth, parents, teachers and other IDEA stakeholders; hosting a watch party in concert with a university class; or encouraging your school faculty to watch and engage in conversations about the history, impact and future of this legislation.

Submit Your Story

As part of our celebration of 40 years of the IDEA, we also want to hear from individuals with disabilities—especially children and youth with disabilities—parents, teachers, researchers and all other IDEA stakeholders about the personal impact this law has had on them.

  • How has IDEA made a difference to you?
  • What does inclusion, equity, and opportunity now look like for you?

Submit your art, photographs and stories by November 10, 2015 to our IDEA 40th Anniversary Web site [] for possible use for upcoming events in Washington, D.C., celebrating the 40th Anniversary of IDEA.

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How do students fare after HS?

The transition from high school to work, post-secondary education, and other alternatives is a challenge, especially for students with disabilities. In “Diplomas Count 2015: Report and Graduation Rates—Next Steps: Life After Special Education“, Education Week writers present their 10th analysis of how high-school graduates make that transition. Here’s how Christina Samuels, one of the contributors, described the work:

Each year, hundreds of thousands of students in special education graduate from their high schools.

And then what happens?

In the 10th annual edition of its Diplomas Count report, Education Week tries to answer that question.

The report is a blend of journalism and reseach: the Education Week Research Center delved into federal data to offer an important snapshot of where students with disabilities end up after they leave high school. My journalist colleagues and I give life to those numbers by talking to students as they make important future decisions about college and about work.

For example: Do students with disabilities tell their colleges about their special needs, or do they try to go without any of the supports they may have used in high school? (The answer: most of them do not disclose.) For students who are headed directly to the workplace, have they been taught how to advocate for themselves? (The answer: it’s hit-or-miss.)

Recommended reading.

Suspension data by U.S. state

Over on On Special Education, Christina Samuels reported that a group that is part of the Civil Rights Project of the University of California, Los Angeles, has indicated that 37% of secondary students with disabilities in Florida had been suspended from school, the highest rate in the US and more than double the average for the country.

Eighteen percent of secondary students with a disability served an out-of-school suspension in 2011-12, according to data collected by the U.S. Department of Education, but behind that number are enormous variations in suspension rates at the district and state level.

A civil rights advocacy group’s analysis of the data released Monday shows that Florida, at 37 percent, leads all other states in suspending students with disabilities at the secondary level. Florida also led the nation that year in suspensions overall, both at the elementary and secondary level, at 5 percent and 19 percent, respectively, said the Center for Civil Rights Remedies.

Read Ms. Samuels’s full post at “States’ Suspension Rates Vary Widely for Students With Disabilities, Group Says.”

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.”
Continue reading Pew Report Documents Sequestration’s Impact on Special Education

Saying “no” to violence

Almost 20 years ago, on a discussion list that was a precursor to SpedPro, a group of us led by Jim Kauffman developed a statement about preventing violence. It seems like a propitious time to revisit it. Here is the introduction to it.

We are in no danger of becoming a nation of wimps; we are in imminent danger of becoming a nation of thugs. We know the details of violence among children and youth in our society. We recite the litany of this violence with shame, sorrow, disgust, and terror. For decades we have failed to act on what we know about the causes of violence and aggression. We can not afford to delay effective action any longer.

The violence and aggression of the young have no single cause nor a single solution. Decades of research have revealed several contributing causes and partial solutions. If we take any of the following steps, we will become a less violent society. If we argue about which step should be first or complain that taking only one or two is insufficient, we will waste energy and delay progress. If we take all these steps together, we will reap the benefits of concerted, coherent action. None of these steps is easy or quick, nor is any a full remedy; all require intelligence and persistence.

The full statement is available for review.

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.

Deborah Speece Appointed Commissioner of National Center for Special Education Research

D. Speece 2004

Deborah L. Speece was named as the Commissioner of the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) on 23 August 2011. NCSER is the leading branch of the US government’s effort to study educational innovation in special education and, as its head, Commissioner Speece will oversee a program that funds scores of research efforts including projects, evaluations, and multi-site centers throughout the US. She is the second commissioner of NCSER, and her appointment was greeted with substantial approval by the special education research community.

IES Director John Q. Easton announced the appointment of Deborah Speece as Commissioner of the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) effective August 23, 2011. Known for her innovative studies of the classification and diagnosis of learning disabilities, Speece is a national leader in special education research and response to intervention strategies.
Continue reading Deborah Speece Appointed Commissioner of National Center for Special Education Research

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.”

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.
Continue reading Milwaukee parents allege voucher program discriminates against students with disabilities

Easter Seals campaigns for early intervention

Under the headline “Tell President Obama To Help Kids With Disabilities Realize Their Full Potential,” promoted a petition encouraging support for early intervention for children with disabilities. It’s got to be difficult to sell people on the idea of increasing government expenditures in a time of substantial concern about federal deficits, but the Easter-Seals-sponsored petition is seeking to accomplish just that end. Here’s the pitch.

Continue reading Easter Seals campaigns for early intervention

OSERS celebrates anniversary of IDEA

The US Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services posted its official recognition of the 35th anniversary of the adoption of the signing of the landmark legislation, of Public Law 94-142, then called the “Education of All Handicapped Children Act,” but which we know now as the “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” or simply “IDEA.” Interested readers can review OSERS’ tribute to this remarkable legislation by reviewing the Web site dedicated to it anniversary, “The IDEA 35th Anniversary.”

Maybe special ed isn’t as bad as it’s cracked up to be?

Special education takes a lot of lumps as a dumping ground, a backwater, a path to dashed hopes, and on and on. Thanks to Amy Corbett Storch over on The Stir, it’s clear that special ed isn’t so bad. In “Why We’re Not Afraid of Special Education,” Ms. Storch explains why she wasn’t fazed by allowing her son to be identified as having a disability and receiving special education. Here’s her lead:

When we first told some of our family members that we decided to seek support and services for our child through the school district’s special education program (and later, after he actually qualified for the special education program), they were shocked. Shocked that Noah — sweet, smart, sociable little Noah with all his invisible labels — qualified in the first place, and that we would actually willingly send our child to public school special ed.

Continue reading Maybe special ed isn’t as bad as it’s cracked up to be?

Costs-benefits of special education

Over on Squidalicious, a guest post by Lea Cuniberti-Duran about “Special Needs Children and Public Education” appears under the title “We Are Not Sparta: The Real, Justified Costs of Educating Kids With Special Needs.” Ms. Cuniberti-Duran recounts the argument that schools are hamstrung by the costs of providing special education services.

I have attended many school district budget meetings in which officials blurted to their audience, “We cannot pay for XYZ because of our financial responsibility toward children with special needs: to educate one special needs student can cost the district $100,000 a year.” I also hear about how the district has “an unfunded mandate to educate children with special needs, and how this results into an encroachment to the general fund.”

She then proceeds to provide a clear and powerful dismissal of the canard that special education’s costs harm others. Not only does she show how the costs argument leaks (at least with regard to the local education agencies in her geographic area of the US), but also she explains how beneficial special education has been to society as a whole over the past 35 years. Read it!

Posny congratulated on confirmation

The US Senate confirmed Alexa Posny as assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services in the US Department of Education Monday 5 October 2009. US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued a press release congratulating Dr. Posny on the confirmation. Here’s a snippet from the press release:

Alexa E. Posny comes to the department from Kansas where she served as commissioner of education for the state. As commissioner, Posny was responsible for helping over 450,000 students meet or exceed high academic standards, licensing over 45,000 teachers and overseeing a state education budget of more than $4.5 billion. Prior to her work as commissioner, Posny served as the director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) for the U.S. Department of Education, a position in which she assisted state and local efforts to effectively educate all children and youth with disabilities. Posny has also served as the Kansas deputy commissioner of education, Kansas state director of special education, director of special education for the Shawnee Mission School District, director of the Curriculum and Instruction Specialty Option as part of the Title I Technical Assistance Center (TAC) network of TACs across the United States, and a senior research associate at Research and Training Associates in Overland Park, Kan. Posny earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, a master’s degree in behavioral disabilities and a doctorate in educational administration both from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Posny has also served on the Board of Directors for the Chief State School Officers, the National Council for Learning Disabilities, and chaired the National Assessment Governing Board’s Special Education Task Force. Posny has also been a teacher at the elementary, middle school, high school and university levels.

Link for the full press release. Catch coverage by Lisa Fine for On Special Education.