Week in Review - August 8, 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 York State Eyes Special Education Students' Diplomas

Citing evidence that many special-education students are being shortchanged academically, the state is considering fundamental changes in "IEP" diplomas awarded annually to thousands with severe disabilities. Controversial options include a change in the name of the diploma itself -- to, say, a high school-completion credential or certificate. State officials say this would help alert parents that such credentials are not academic diplomas. However, some Long Island parents say a name change would unnecessarily embarrass teens with disabilities, who would be graduating with credentials obviously different in appearance from those awarded mainstream classmates. In defending the need for change, state school officials say too many students capable of earning regular academic diplomas appear to getting IEP diplomas instead. This, officials say, can seriously limit opportunities in later life. To read more, click here

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In the United Kingdom, Campaign Fights Stigma Surrounding Learning Disabilities and Sex

The "It's My Right" poster advertising push is the result of a collaboration between FPA (formerly the Family Planning Association), ad agency the Ethical Agency and photographer Marcus Lyon. The work is aimed at promoting Sexual Health Week, which runs from August 4 to 10, as well as changing attitudes.  According to the FPA, there are over 1.5m people in the UK with learning disabilities, but there is still a stigma attached to accepting them as sexual beings, which can stop people with disabilities form exploring their sexuality, having relationships and having sex. To read more, click here

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Gifted and Talented Education Provisions Included in Higher Education Bill That Clears Senate

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa last week said that provisions for gifted and talented education that he has pushed for were included in the Higher Education Authorization Bill that passed the Senate today. The bill has already passed the House of Representatives, so it will now go to the president to be signed into law. The bill includes Grassley provisions that would require teacher preparation programs receiving grants through the bill to improve the knowledge of new teachers about the unique needs of gifted and talented students. "The vast majority of teacher preparation programs do not require prospective classroom teachers to have coursework in gifted education. If teachers aren't exposed to information about the needs of gifted students in their pre-service training, they may never acquire the necessary knowledge," Grassley said. "This is a common-sense provision to ensuring teachers are exposed to the needs of gifted students, who have distinct approaches to learning and interacting socially." To read more, click here

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The State of Autism:  Missouri's Blue Ribbon Panel Addresses Issues of Autism Awareness

Local parents, teachers and child advocates are expressing outrage over comments by national radio shock jock Michael Savage who recently attacked autistic kids as "spoiled brats" needing discipline. Savage, whose show airs on 97.1, KFTK-FM, said "99 percent of cases" of autism are caused by permissive or poor parenting. He said in most every case, autism is about a child "who hasn't been told to cut the act out."  Jeanne Andorff said she and her husband found Savage's remarks to be beneath contempt. The Webster Groves couple has two boys with autism and she said the condition involves brain functioning problems that have nothing to do with lax parenting or permissiveness."I understand Savage is a shock jock who has to be offensive, but it is disgusting that he is attacking kids who really can't defend themselves," said Andorff. "I don't understand why a St. Louis radio station feels a need to air this kind of nonsense. To read more, click here

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Special Education Struggles in School

Young people dealing with Autism or Asperger Syndrome often face an uphill battle in the classroom. One family's struggle with schooling and takes a look at how schools handle the challenge of teaching these special students. When Tim Miller started coming home from school in sixth grade telling his parents horror stories, they didn't know what to think. John Miller, Tim's Father, said, "Our son was coming home and telling us the school was trying to kill him - with his communication deficits at the time he didn't know how to say he was being restrained." John Miller says his son, who has Asperger Syndrome or a higher functioning form of autism, was being put in prone restraints when he acted out in class. Although he admits Tim, then 12, had behavioral issues, he believes the school went too far. Tim Miller, teen with Asperger Syndrome, said, "I remember they just grabbed me and put me into the room or whatever and I remember they had the mat and just threw me to the ground. To read more, click here

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Weight Variance Linked to Medication in Youth with ADHD

Children and adolescents with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who are not taking medications have a slightly higher likelihood of being overweight; however, those taking ADHD medications have a higher likelihood of being underweight, according to a population study published in the July Pediatrics. The authors, Molly Waring, M.A., and Kate Lapane, Ph.D., of the Department of Community Health at Brown Medical School, analyzed data from 62,887 individuals aged 5 to 17 who had participated in the 2003-2004 National Survey of Children's Health, a national survey sponsored by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics in the Department of Health and Human Services. Information about each child's or teenager's weight, height, diagnosis of ADHD by a health professional, and whether the child or teenager was taking medication prescribed for ADHD, was collected through telephone interview with a parent or guardian in the household. To read more, click here

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Schools Don't Make Grade

While the local school system posted some impressive numbers in comparison with state results, no school in Candler County made Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP for 2007-2008. The primary reason for that, according to Superintendent Tom Bigwood, is that the subgroup "Students with Disabilities" did not meet or exceed CRCT levels, primarily in language arts. At both Metter Intermediate and Metter Middle, the sole reason those schools failed to make AYP was because of this one subgroup in language arts."Starting last year, we started a whole lot more inclusion (for those students)," Bigwood said. "We had co-teaching, which means the regular teacher is teaching on grade level standards and students with disabilities are now in there with that teacher and their (special needs) teacher. We are just going to be more intense about working with that group, maybe double dose or even triple dose." 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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Woman's Plight Brings Special Education Training to Life

Cheryl Salyer's face appeared life-size and grainy on the pixilated screen of a Toshiba laptop. Around the computer, four women huddled over notebooks and discussed learning disabilities with Salyer's head bobbing on the screen.
It's common these days for college students to tote a laptop to class. But Salyer goes to class in a laptop. For the women studying to become special-education teachers, she is a real-life case study. To read more,
click here

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Experts: Childhood Illnesses on the Rise

Marty Richerson suspected for years that something was wrong with her daughter Britney. It took years before Britney was diagnosed with autism, a disorder that is one of illnesses increasing in alarming numbers among children."She cried all the time, she wouldn't grow, she wouldn't suck," Richerson said. "She didn't walk until she was almost 2 years old." According to the National Institutes of Health, three of the most alarming childhood illnesses are becoming more widespread. To read more, click here

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Exit Examination Can Help Special Education Students Succeed

San Francisco school officials and advocates for the disabled have recently made news fighting the state requirement that special education students take the high school exit exam. Upon closer inspection, this seeming issue of simple compassion becomes much more complicated. Students must pass the state high school exit exam, first administered in 2001, to earn a diploma. Only in the last couple years have special ed students - those who have one or more of a variety of disabilities - been required to take the test. A little more than half of special ed students pass the exam compared to around nine of 10 students overall. Unsurprisingly, this disparity has drawn a worried response from some. Tara Kini, an attorney with the anti-exit-exam Public Advocates organization, recently said, "When kids can't pass the exam and graduate, their life chances are really being cut off."  To read more, click here

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Quarter of Hawaii Schools Miss Goals

More than one in four public schools in Hawaii are being restructured because they have failed to meet education goals set by federal law. Eighty-one of the state's 283 schools must be restructured under the federal No Child Left Behind law because they didn't meet testing targets. That's nearly a 70 percent increase compared with the 48 schools in restructuring last year. Hawaii educators complain that schools don't get credit for overall improvements if smaller groups of students fail. They say schools should be rewarded for gains by poor and minority students, especially those learning English as a second language or have learning disabilities. To read more, click here

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Dreamworks to Meet with Disability Groups

DreamWorks executives have agreed to talk by telephone and in person on Wednesday with representatives of more than a half dozen disabilities organizations to discuss the groups' concerns about the portrayal of a developmentally handicapped character in the coming movie "Tropic Thunder." "We want to be really plain about what our issues are with the movie," said Anne Sommers, the policy counsel for the American Association of People with Disabilities, who helped organize the meeting. Debate has centered on the film's approach to a character named Simple Jack, right, who is played by Ben Stiller's character, an actor, in the movie. Movie and marketing materials refer to the character as a "retard." Ms. Sommers said the groups, which include the National Down Syndrome Congress and the Special Olympics, had not yet formulated specific requests for DreamWorks. DreamWorks executives have said the film, a movie industry spoof, aims its humor at the industry, not at disabled people. The company, a unit of Paramount Pictures, plans to release "Tropic Thunder" on Aug. 13. To read more, click here

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Food for Thought........

Go as far as the eye can see, and when you get there, look further.

                                                                       Dag Hammarskjold

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