Week in Review - July 11, 2008

WEEK in REVIEW

Articles of Interest in Special Education That Were Reported This Week

Welcome to NASET's WEEK in REVIEW.  Here, we provide you with some of the most interesting issues that have happened this week in the field of special education.  We hope you enjoy this publication.  Feel free to send us articles for this publication or let us know your thoughts about the WEEK in REVIEW at news@naset.org. Have a great weekend. 

Sincerely,

NASET News Team

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New Law Restores Special Education Funding in Illinois

State Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, announced that legislation restoring special education funding to several Southern Illinois schools was signed into law on Monday. Although state funding for the state's special education programs increased overall from $190 million to over $222 million under current state budget, several schools in Southern Illinois experienced a significant decrease in special education funding due to a formula change administered by the Illinois State Board of Education.  "Special education programs provide an invaluable educational experience to special needs students but when budgets are tight, these services suffer," Bradley said.  "Add in the formula change, and we see schools that were facing thousands of dollars of lost funds.  If the governor releases the money as he should, school administrators will be able to provide their special needs students with the personnel and services they need." To read more, click here

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Don't Leave Gifted, Talented Behind

Sally Beisser has watched educational programs for Iowa's most talented students improve and expand over 30 years, but the Drake University professor is concerned that those efforts have been hurt by a federal push to bring lower-achieving classmates up to speed.  Beisser will share that sentiment this month at an invitation-only conference at the prestigious Oxford Roundtable in England, where 35 educators from around the world have been invited to discuss the effects of the No Child Left Behind law that's at the center of U.S. education policy. The event will be held July 20-25 at Oxford University. "I understand the need to focus on children below the mean," Beisser said. But that can mean advanced students "don't get the challenges and stimulation they need ... teachers only have so much energy and so many resources to distribute." To read more, click here

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Louisiana Governor Signs Autism Bill Into Law

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has signed a bill mandating health insurance coverage for children with autism. The bill was sponsored by State Representative Franklin Foil, who is the father of an autistic child. The new law will require health insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism disorders in patients under age 17. The benefits could not exceed $36,000 per year and $144,000 per lifetime. Parents of autistic children testified before the state legislature during this past legislative session, urging lawmakers to approve the measure. The measure passed unanimously through both the House of Representatives and Senate. Parents said the high cost associated with treating autism, left many in a financial struggle. Jindal said he passed the measure, in part, because of his own child, who was born with a heart condition. To read more, click here

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Children's Suicide Attempts Raise Concerns About ADHD Medication

New questions are being raised about the safety of a drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder amid reports that more than 40 Canadian children have attempted suicide after taking it. The issue highlights a long-brewing debate over the decision to prescribe powerful drugs to treat complex psychiatric problems among children."It does raise some concerns," said Roger McIntyre, head of the Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit at Toronto's University Health Network. "Childhood psychiatric disorders, I think, are an area [that] in and of itself remain a controversial topic."Health Canada said it received 189 reports of adverse reactions associated with atomoxetine, sold under the name Strattera, from the time it was put on the market in February, 2005, to the end of last year. To read more, click here

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Pennsylvania Tells Autism Speaks to Stop Talking

In a historical and unprecedented move, the Pennsylvania legislature voted nearly unanimously in the affirmative for House Bill 1150 to mandate commercial insurance companies to cover some services for children with autism. The bill, introduced by House Speaker Dennis M. O'Brien, requires insurance companies to cover up to $36,000 of autism-related treatment for individuals less than 21 years old. In nearly one full week of roller-coaster negotiations with the House Banking and Insurance Committee, headed by Senator Don White, the bill was stripped of all useful language, leaving Pennsylvania children with autism vulnerable to denials of coverage. House Speaker O'Brien, along with Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell and Secretary Estelle Richman of the Department of Public Welfare joined in condemning the gutting of the bill. " To read more, click here

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Royal College of Psychiatrists: Are Teachers Overestimating ADHD in Children?

Teachers are important partners to health professionals in identifying and managing children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, they may be over-identifying children with possible ADHD diagnoses. Diagnostic criteria for ADHD require that the symptoms are present both at school and at home. School assessments are generally carried out by rating scales and school reports. However, these may be unreliable, and a more structured approach should be taken to school assessment, according to a new study. A recent US study pointed to various school factors that may make teachers more or less likely to report ADHD-like symptoms. The authors of this latest study set out to determine how informative teacher-reported symptoms of ADHD were in the final diagnosis. To read more, click here

Board Certification in Special Education - Available to NASET Members

Through an agreement with The American Academy of Special Education Professionals (AASEP), NASET members now have the opportunity to achieve AASEP Board Certification in Special Education - (B.C.S.E.) at a reduced fee.  AASEP Board Certification in Special Education - (B.C.S.E.) is a voluntary choice on the part of the candidate. The candidate for Board Certification wishes to demonstrate a commitment to excellence to employers, peers, administrators, other professionals, and parents. From the standpoint of the Academy, board certification will demonstrate the highest professional competency in the area of special education. Board Certification in Special Education establishes a much needed standard for professionals, across disciplines, who work with exceptional children.   For more information on Board Certification in Special Education, click here

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National Education Association Honors North Carolina Governor as 'Greatest'

The National Education Association honored N.C. Gov. Mike Easley this week with its "America's Greatest Education Governor's Award." Some critics of the governor might raise an eyebrow to that, but in fact he has committed enormous attention and resources to strategies to better educate the children of this state. The NEA cites two of his most important initiatives, the "More at Four" program for at-risk preschool students and the Learn and Earn program, which allows high school students to graduate with a diploma and an associate's degree. Learn and Earn also was cited as one of the top 50 programs in the 2008 Innovations in American Government Awards sponsored by Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Gov. Easley also pushed legislators to provide more resources for high-poverty schools in low-wealth counties and continues to prod them to boost teacher pay to the national average. "America's greatest education governor" may sound a bit hifalutin, but Gov. Easley has been good. Congrats, governor.  To read more, click here

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Special-Needs Students Get Help with Licenses

A brown 1982 pickup has sat abandoned for three years at Justin Eddleman's family farm. After the 18-year-old's father died, the Chevrolet truck was passed on to him. Eddleman occasionally would use the truck on the farm but could never take it out on the roads. After six attempts, he had not passed the written test required to get his driver's permit. The permit, and eventually a license, would mean freedom and self-sufficiency. He could quit working on a neighbor's farm and move to a full-time job after graduation - doing body work at a mechanic's shop, his dream. But he was losing confidence and hope it would ever happen.  Pam Deneke, a special-education teacher at Jackson High School, has seen the same problem with many of her students. Students complete transition programs, but when they are offered a job they have no way to get there. To read more, click here

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Mom Helps Others with Learning Disabilities

She was desperate to help her son. If only she knew what was really wrong. He was a happy, social six-yearold. He played and coloured with his twin brother. He liked to draw, mostly planes and trucks. "You knew he was a bright kid," she says. That's what made it all so odd. Odd that one day he'd know the alphabet so well he could point to the letters in each of the little trains on his bedroom walls and say their names. The next day, he hardly recognized them at all. One day he could recount a familiar story that had been read to him countless times. The next day, he hadn't a clue. At school, he was forever losing things. Important things. His coat. His boots. And his mother, Kay MacDonald, thought it odd that he never brought any of his work from kindergarten home. To read more, click here

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Let Special Needs Students Transfer if Needed, Group Says

A Southern California advocacy group has filed a complaint with the state on behalf of local special-needs students, alleging that families are not easily able to transfer their children into districts where needed services are available. The complaint from Camarillo- based KPS4Parents, Inc. asks the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education and local school districts to rethink how classroom assignments are handled for special-education students, which would require changing some regulations about interdistrict transfers. At the heart of the matter is what happens when special-needs students happen to live in small school districts with fewer resources. But special-education directors and the county's head of special-education services say there's no need for changes in how placements are made locally and that districts already work together to meet the needs of all students.  To read more, click here

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School Facing Special Education Legal Challenges

Two legal challenges have prompted Bucks County Technical High School administrators this summer to review their procedures for handling special education students, an official said. The challenges, which will be handled by a hearing officer, are common in every school district, said Kevin Gentilcore, the school's supervisor of pupil services. However, they are the first to be filed against the tech school in its 50-year history, he said. "We're not happy that we have a couple cases. We're looking at all of our procedures and those of our sending districts to make sure we are all legally sound and have processes in place to continue to have positive relationships with our students and parents," Gentilcore said. To read more, click here

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Experts Argue Over Push to Test Autism Treatment

Pressured by desperate parents, government researchers are pushing to test an unproven treatment on autistic children, a move some scientists see as an unethical experiment in voodoo medicine. The treatment removes heavy metals from the body and is based on the fringe theory that mercury in vaccines triggers autism -- a theory never proved and rejected by mainstream science. Mercury hasn't been in childhood vaccines since 2001, except for certain flu shots. But many parents of children with autism are believers, and the head of the National Institute of Mental Health supports testing it on children provided the tests are safe."So many moms have said, 'It's saved my kids,' " institute director Dr. Thomas Insel said. To read more, click here

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Food for Thought........

Correction does much, but encouragement does more. Encouragement after censure is as the sun after a shower.

                                                            Goethe

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