Week in Review - July 4, 2008


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 and a very happy and healthy Fourth of July!Sincerely,

NASET News Team


Holding Back Young Students: Is Program a Gift or a Stigma?


With the increasing emphasis on standardized testing over the past decade, large urban school systems have famously declared an end to so-called social promotion among youngsters lacking basic skills. Last year, New York flunked 6 percent of its first graders, and Chicago 7.7 percent.  Now the 8,400-student East Ramapo school district in this verdant stretch west of the Palisades is going further, having revived a controversial retention practice widely denounced in the 1980s to not only hold back nearly 12 percent of its first graders this spring but to segregate them in a separate classroom come fall. The special classes, which are limited to 15 students and follow a pared-down curriculum of reading, writing and arithmetic, are called the Gift of Time and come with extras like tutoring and field trips to a local farm. To read more,click here


Gallaudet Regroups:  Panel to Reaffirm Accreditation of College for the Deaf


A year and a half after student protesters shut down Gallaudet University for several days and accreditors warned of major problems, the school for the deaf got good news yesterday: Its accreditation will be reaffirmed. The stamp of approval from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education caps months of work and transformation: new leadership, a new curriculum, a new emphasis on sign language, a new push to prove results with solid data and a new tranquility at an institution once torn apart over a presidential selection. To read more,click here


Russia Looks for Ways to End Isolation, Invisibility for Individuals with Disabilities


Vera Samykina is an A student in all subjects who just completed ninth grade, a significant marker in Russian education when some students bow out to pursue a trade or a technical education. But Samykina, 17, is determined to finish high school in two years and then pursue a university degree in English. She has never been inside a regular classroom, however. Most of her education occurs in her cramped Moscow apartment. Samykina has cerebral palsy, and until she was 15, tutors came to her house three times a week for a couple of hours to instruct her in her various subjects. For the past two years, she has been taught over the Internet by specialists in each subject. To read more,click here


Universal Preschool Students Perform Better


An ambitious public pre-kindergarten program in Oklahoma boosts kids' skills dramatically, a long-awaited study finds, for the first time offering across-the-board evidence that universal preschool, open to all children, benefits both low-income and middle-class kids. The large-scale study, by researchers from Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute and Center for Research on Children in the United States, looked at the skills of about 3,500 incoming kindergartners in Tulsa, where state-funded pre-kindergarten has been in place for 18 years - and offered universally for nearly a decade. The researchers found that as the kids entered kindergarten those enrolled in the state program had better reading, math and writing skills than kids who were either not enrolled in preschool or who spent time in the federally funded Head Start program.  To read more, click here


Reading First Program Could Be on its Last Legs

Is the federal government getting out of the reading business? The Senate Appropriations Committee voted last week to eliminate funding for Reading First, the groundbreaking but controversial Bush administration program that has given states $1 billion a year since 2002 to teach low-income elementary schoolers to read. A House committee also had voted to eliminate funding; if money is not restored before the federal budget is approved in the fall, the program could end. Democrats in Congress say the program was an unproven magnet for corruption. House hearings last year focused on financial ties between its top advisers and major textbook publishers, who account for a large share of materials schools use. A U.S. Justice Department investigation, begun last year, is still pending. To read more,click here


Parents Press for Longer Special-Needs Program


Though school officials voiced support for expanding the hours of the extended school year (ESY) program for special needs students, they were uncertain last week about whether it is feasible for this summer. "Any kind of extra education that we can give children, I'm always supportive of, but the problem with this is that it's a very short period of time," board President Amy Antelis said. "There are a couple of components involved. It's a lot of hard work." Board of Education members voted unanimously June 12 for school administrators to investigate what it will take to implement the program's growth, and whether it would begin this summer or next. Superintendent of Schools Ralph Ferrie declined to comment on officials' findings last week, as they were to be presented by administrators at the Board of Education meeting scheduled for last night, after press time. 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


$4.37 Million in Grants Awarded for Training Highly Qualified Personnel in Special Education


The U.S. Department of Education announced the award of $4.37 million in grants to universities in 14 states to help train doctoral, post-doctoral and other graduate students to work with children with disabilities. Under the Preparation of Leadership Program, the grants will help children with disabilities by training doctoral and post-doctoral students in early intervention, special education or related services. Some money will also be used to prepare master's degree students for special education administration and supervision."We hope to build a corps of highly qualified personnel to help children with disabilities reach their academic potential," said U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. "Research has consistently suggested that there is a persistent need for additional special education and related services personnel who have been trained at the doctoral and post-doctoral levels. These experts can play a critical role in improving the quality of services for children with disabilities and their families." To read more, click here


"PACS" Help Parents Advocate for Their Children

How involved parents are in their child's education is now a well-documented indicator of how successful that child will be in school. This role of "parent as advocate" is magnified when the children concerned have special needs. Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) offers a wide variety of services for those who meet the state criteria for eligibility. That criteria ranges from simple speech impairment to very significant developmental disabilities. The SSD program that offers the most parental involvement is the Parent Advisory Council (PAC), established by SSD in 1957. To read more, click here.


Program Takes Children From Tantrums to Decorum


In a short time, Mateo Licon went from a kicking and screaming 4-year- old to the best-behaved boy in the room. For 22 weeks, Mateo and his family have been in therapy at the Special Needs Assistance Project, known as SNAP, focusing on disruptive behavior, positive reinforcement and parenting skills. "He is a different child," said his mother, Nicole Licon. "He's happy. He's talking more. Nobody can believe it." Licon and her son have been in Parent-Child Interactive Therapy, staffed by Riverside County Department of Mental Health. It is a branch of the Lake Elsinore Unified School District's special-needs program. The program pulls together various local and county agencies to catch behavior and developmental issues in children before they start kindergarten. To read more,click here


Special Education Students in U.S. Virgin Islands to Receive Customized Instruction in Mathematics


Walch Education, a leading publisher of educational materials, has announced that it has signed an agreement with the St. Croix School District of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The agreement calls for Walch to develop and provide customized Academic Support Programs (ASPs) for approximately 700 special education students in the district."Each of the ASPs contains approximately 60 hours of instruction," notes Walch Education's Director of Standards and Assessment, Jill Rosenblum. "They're complete programs with a variety of teaching tools and strategies, something the instructor can use to review core concepts, assess students' needs, and-maybe most important-provide remediation and support for the skills identified as needing special attention." To read more,click here


NASET Offering Members Two Million Dollar Educator Liability Insurance for Less Than $10.00 a Month


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


Autism Amendment May Spark Fight


A bid by a Baton Rouge father to help his son with autism pass a key state test could also affect thousands of other exceptional students, state educators said. Aidan Reynolds, a lawyer and the father of the child at the center of the controversy, says he would get relief for his 12-year-old son, Liam - or head to court. "And it will not be pretty," Reynolds warned. However, any such change would have to win approval from the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, whose president sharply criticized the change. A new policy means the  door could be opened for thousands of students statewide with autism, dyslexia and brain injuries who fail the high-stakes test to be promoted anyway, said Scott Norton, assistant superintendent for student and school performance. In addition, other top state education officials late Friday afternoon took the unusual step of denouncing the new policy in a three-page prepared statement. To read more, click here


Mind Altering Drugs and the Problem Child


You're a young mother at the playground with your 3-year-old son. The other mothers are engaged in relaxed conversation, but you're on edge. You know your son is "inflexible," and at any moment could go from happily playing to a tantrum. Sure enough, as you try to join in the group, you see him getting upset because his toy car is stuck. You rush over to calm him, but his crying escalates. As the other children and mothers turn to look, you go from embarrassment to rage. You yell at your son to cut it out. This only makes him scream more. Finally, you grab him, your bag, and his toys and run to your car, where you collapse in tears of helplessness. Being a parent of such a child is a hard job. In our society, parents are often alone, without support from extended family or a spouse. However, the latest research integrating developmental psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral genetics into an approach called contemporary attachment theory is showing that if we can help this mother to join her child, to accept his low frustration tolerance as part of him, not a reflection of her own failure as a parent, she can help him regulate his frustration. To read more, click here

Device Lets Individuals with Disabilities Control Computer, Wheelchair with Tongue


Unlike the arms and legs, the tongue has a direct nerve connection with the brain that bypasses the spinal cord. That bit of anatomical reality is why researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology chose to utilize the tongue in an adaptive technology device they are developing. The system Maysam Ghovanloo is in the process of refining could one day allow people who have suffered severe spinal chord damage to control devices such as computers and powered wheelchairs with nothing more than tongue movements."This device could revolutionize the field of assistive technologies by helping individuals with severe disabilities, such as those with high-level spinal cord injuries, return to rich, active, independent and productive lives," said Ghovanloo, an assistant professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. To read more, click here


Food for Thought........

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream

                                                                                     Les Brown

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