Week in Review - April 3, 2009


New NASET Publications and Articles of Interest in Special Education That Were Reported This Week

Dear NASET Members,

Welcome to NASET's WEEK in REVIEW.  Here, we provide you with the latest publications from NASET to read and download, as well as 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.

NASET News Team

New This Week on NASET

Special Educator e-Journal

April 2009

In this issue:
  • Message from the Executive Directors
  • Update from the U.S. Department Education
  • Update From The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
  • Educational Placement for Students with Disabilities
  • Recruiting and Retaining Teachers
  • Communities of Practice
  • Deaf-Blindness
  • Calls to Participate
  • Special Education Resources
  • Upcoming Conferences, Workshops, and Events
  • Get Wired!-The Latest on Websites and Listservs
  • Funding Forecast and Award Opportunities
  • Acknowledgements
  • Download a PDF Version of This Issue
To download or read this issue - Click Here

Quick Links To NASET

Stimulus Dollars To Be Released For Schools

The first round of school dollars from the economic stimulus law is going to states this week. To mark the occasion, Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Wednesday is visiting first- and fifth-grade classes at Doswell Brooks Elementary School in Capitol Heights in the Maryland suburbs of Washington. Public schools will get an unprecedented amount of money - double the education budget under President George W. Bush - from the stimulus law over the next two years. On Wednesday, the administration is making available half of the dollars for federal programs that fund kindergarten through 12th grade and special education. In addition, Duncan will provide applications for states to get money from a special fund to stabilize state and local budgets. President Barack Obama says the stimulus will save teachers' jobs, although there is no estimate of how many jobs will be rescued. To read more, click here

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Texas Bill Would Require State Permission Before Prescribing Psychiatric Drugs For Children on Medicaid

The number of poor Texas children on powerful psychiatric drugs could drop dramatically under a bill lawmakers are considering to halt unwarranted prescriptions. Rep. Sylvester Turner's bill would prohibit doctors from prescribing anti-psychotic drugs to children younger than 11 who are covered by Medicaid unless they get special permission from the state. Drug companies and medical professionals fear the measure would take control out of the hands of doctors and parents. Thousands of Texas children under 2 years old have been prescribed anti-psychotics like Seroquel and Risperdal, Turner said - drugs that treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but can produce harmful side effects in children. His measure would force state health officials to review individual prescriptions, considering a child's diagnosis and whether a drug has federal approval for use in juveniles before approving the prescription. To read more, click here

Autism Rates Are Higher For U.S.-Born Somali Children In Minneapolis

Confirming the fears of Somali immigrants in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Health Department agreed Tuesday that young Somali children there appeared to have higher-than-usual rates of autism. Though health officials emphasized that their report was based on very limited data, they concluded that young Somali children appeared to be two to seven times as likely as other children to be in classes for autistic pupils. Dr. Sanne Magnan, the state health commissioner, said the finding was "consistent with the observations by parents," who have been saying for more than a year that alarming numbers of Somali children born in this country have severe autism. Somalis began immigrating into the area in the 1990s, fleeing civil war in their homeland. The report made no effort to explain why the children had autism. Its authors did not examine children or their medical records. They accepted the diagnoses - some by doctors, some by school evaluators - that admitted children to special-education classes, and they calculated rates for different ethnic groups. They counted only 3- to 4-year-olds, only children in Minneapolis public schools, and only children born in Minnesota. They drew no comparisons with Somalis in other cities. To read more, click here

Senate Budget Proposes Deep Cuts

Senate Democrats propose a $485 million reduction in higher education, including a 14 percent reduction for the state's research and regional institutions. Community and technical colleges would see a 9 percent cut. They also authorize public four-year institutions to raise tuition a maximum of 7 percent a year; community and technical colleges are authorized to raise tuition by up to 5 percent each year. Raises for faculty and staff also are suspended.... -K-12 EDUCATION: Suspends almost all - 93 percent - of the money from the voter-approved initiative to ensure smaller class sizes, significantly more than the 24 percent Gov. Chris Gregoire suggested in her December budget proposal. Senate Democrats also suspend the entirety of another initiative for cost-of-living raises for teachers. Maintained is more than $12 billion for basic education services, like special education and transportation. To read more, click here

University Of Iowa Program Helps Students With Disabilities Get Jobs

Sitting behind a computer desk, Peter Fultz designs a badge that war veterans participating in a new golf program will wear. Office work at the Iowa City Veteran's Affairs Medical Clinic is a little different from the retail jobs the 21-year-old man with cognitive and learning disabilities has had in the past. The new role was a little unnerving at first, but a cell phone sits by his side, just in case. "I was a little shocked or nervous to begin with, but after a time, time sat still and I was fine," said Fultz, a University of Iowa student. This internship has been a good experience and could be a showcase for his ultimate career path out of college, he said. The internship is a major component of a new UI two-year certificate program called REACH, which makes on-campus college life a reality for students with mental disabilities. UI launched REACH, or Realizing Educational and Career Hopes, last fall. It is one of only a few programs in the nation that offers such an experience. Fultz, who is from Chicago, is among 18 students enrolled in the inaugural class. The goal is for students to complete the program, land a job and live independently. To read more, click here

NASET Offering Members Two Million Dollar Educator's Liability Insurance

Every day, special educators are faced with the stresses and potential liability issues involved in dealing with children with special needs. As a result you may be vulnerable to lawsuits, which have been on the rise over the last few years, from parents, or students themselves. In the past decade, the number of suits filed against educators and administrators has risen dramatically, causing the cost of insurance to increase as well. While some special educators may feel that they do not need this type of coverage and they are protected by their district, they should think twice. Even if you are 100% innocent of the charges or accusations, legal costs alone could run into the thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. In special education today, parents - and students - are more aware of their rights, and the laws that govern special education and hold teachers/educators to high standards. Don't try to convince yourself that the expense of your professional and public liability protection is unnecessary or unjustified. Experience shows that the cost of such coverage is by far lower than the risk a teacher takes by not having such protection. Why take a chance for less than $10.00 a month? To learn more about educator liability insurance available through NASET, click here

Clever Boys Dumb Down To Avoid Bullying

Clever children are saving themselves from being branded swots at school by dumbing down and deliberately falling behind, a study has shown. Schoolchildren regarded as boffins may be attacked and shunned by their peers, according to Becky Francis, professor of education at Roehampton University, who carried out a study of academically gifted 12- and 13-year-olds in nine state secondary schools. The study, to be published in the Sociological Review next year, shows how difficult it is for children, particularly boys, to be clever and popular. Boys risk being assaulted in some schools for being high-achievers. To conform and escape alienation, clever boys told researchers they may "try to fall behind" or "dumb down". One boy told researchers: "It is harder to be popular and intelligent. If the subject comes naturally ... then I think it makes it easier. But if the subject doesn't come naturally, they work hard and other people see that and then you get the name-calling." This may in part explain boys' perceived underachievement, Francis said. To read more, click here

Diversity Will Be A Casualty Of Teacher Layoffs

Corine Coaloca will graduate this May from San Diego State University with two teaching credentials-one in bilingual education, and one in special education. A Mexican American, Coaloca, 24, wants to teach in a border community where her language skills and cultural background will translate well with students. But her job prospects are not good. This month, California school districts gave pink slips to nearly 27,000 teachers because of steep budget cuts to education. Although public schools are in dire need of teachers like Coaloca-those who mirror the student population of Asian, Latino and black students-budget slashing threatens to decrease diversity in the state teacher workforce. "What motivates me is thinking of the population I want to serve," she said. "But it's really scary. There are no teacher jobs out there." To read more, click here

Natasha Richardson's Death Creates Brain-Injury Awareness

In the week after actress Natasha Richardson's death from brain trauma after a seemingly minor fall, my husband phoned home last Thursday night from one of our kids' soccer games, saying the most dreadful words: "Meet me at the emergency room." "Aidan has a concussion," he yelled as if mad, but I knew he was scared. "The thing is, she doesn't even remember getting hit. She doesn't know the score of the game, and she doesn't know how she got off the field." A formidable opponent and captain of her varsity team, Aidan, 16, collided with another player in mid-air. She'd gone straight down, hitting the turf head-first. Not one prone to exaggerate, my husband Chris said a hush fell over the stands. After she was taken off the field with a golf cart, she was examined by a trainer who said her pupils looked good but that he "didn't like" that she'd lost consciousness and suffered memory loss. All I could think of on the way to the hospital was, of course, Natasha Richardson. Secondly, I remembered another dire warning in the form of a New York Times cover magazine story on girls sports injuries that came out last year at the start of soccer season. Third, I thought of a good friend's horrific ordeal with her young daughter's brain aneurysm and the fact that I knew next to nothing about concussions. To read more, click here

Low Turnout Fails To Quell Special Olympians' Spirits

Joy transcended disabilities for around 30 Special Olympians that turned out for the St. Thomas-St. John district competition Saturday morning at Charlotte Amalie High School. "The kids love it," said Felicita Richards, Department of Education district director of special education. "They're earning these medals with such enthusiasm and such fervor." Special-needs athletes from area schools and Yellow Cedar Group Home at Anna's Retreat took to the courts, track and field to test their skills in tennis and softball throws, standing long jumps, basketball skills, 25 meter and 50 meter runs, and wheelchair races. Volunteers outnumbered the entrants by about 4 to 1 and showed enthusiasm and support throughout the event. But many, like CAHS special education teacher Edwin Forbes, were disappointed in the turnout. To read more, click here

Scientists Find 'Baffling' Link Between Autism And Vinyl Flooring

Children who live in homes with vinyl floors, which can emit chemicals called phthalates, are more likely to have autism, according to research by Swedish and U.S. scientists published Monday. The study of Swedish children is among the first to find an apparent connection between an environmental chemical and autism. The scientists were surprised by their finding, calling it "far from conclusive." Because their research was not designed to focus on autism, they recommend further study of larger numbers of children to see whether the link can be confirmed. Bernard Weiss, a professor of environmental medicine at University of Rochester and a co-author of the study, said the connection between vinyl flooring and autism "turned up virtually by accident." He called it "intriguing and baffling at the same time." To read more, click here

Food for Thought........

Take the attitude of a student; never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.                                                                      

         Og Mandino

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