Week in Review - January 30,2009

Week in Review

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.

NASETNews Team

New This Week on NASETNASET Q & A Corner

Q&A Corner


The reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was signed into law on Dec. 3, 2004, by President George W. Bush. The provisions of the act became effective on July 1, 2005, with the exception of some of the elements pertaining to the definition of a "highly qualified teacher" that took effect upon the signing of the act. The final regulations were published on Aug. 14, 2006. This NASET Q & A Corner addresses significant changes from preexisting regulations to the final regulatory requirements regarding discipline procedures.

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President Obama Releases Education Agenda

President Obama and Vice President Biden believe that our kids and our country can't afford four more years of neglect and indifference. At this defining moment in our history, America faces few more urgent challenges than preparing our children to compete in a global economy. The decisions our leaders make about education in the coming years will shape our future for generations to come. Obama and Biden are committed to meeting this challenge with the leadership and judgment that has been sorely lacking for the last eight years. Their vision for a 21st century education begins with demanding more reform and accountability, coupled with the resources needed to carry out that reform; asking parents to take responsibility for their children's success; and recruiting, retaining, and rewarding an army of new teachers to fill new successful schools that prepare our children for success in college and the workforce. The Obama-Biden plan will restore the promise of America's public education, and ensure that American children again lead the world in achievement, creativity and success. To read President Obama's entire Education agenda, click here

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When The Label Is 'Gifted,' The Debate Is Heated

A Dec. 16 article in The Washington Post reported that the Montgomery County school system might end the longtime practice of labeling students as gifted or not in the second grade. The article ignited a fire within the local gifted-and-talented community. More than 300 people posted comments on www.washingtonpost.com, and 9,957 voted in an informal online poll on the merits of scrapping the gifted label. The latest tally was 54 percent in favor of keeping it, 41 percent saying dumping it would be a good idea. The school system went to the unusual length of responding publicly to the article, clarifying that although the idea was under study, no decision had been made. Gifted policy is ultimately decided by the school board, whose members expect to take up the future of the label sometime this year. To read more, click here

Historic Trial To Treat Spinal Injury With Stem Cells

Patients with spinal cord injuries will be first humans to receive repair cells derived from embryonic stem cells. The first ever clinical trial using stem cells derived from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) received the go-ahead today from the US Food and Drug Administration. Geron Corporation, a company based in Menlo Park, California, hopes to mend the spines of patients paralysed from the chest down by injecting injury sites with stem cells that restore connections and repair damage. "This marks the beginning of what is potentially a new chapter in medical therapeutics, one that reaches beyond pills to a new level of healing: the restoration of organ and tissue function achieved by the injection of healthy replacement cells," said the company's president, Tom Okarma. To read more, click here

In Tennessee, New Law Allows Schools To Restrain Special Education Students

A new state law aims to keep special education students safe from unreasonable, unsafe or unwarranted discipline. Until now, Tennessee had no laws or rules governing the use of restraint or isolation of such students. Advocates from the Disability Coalition on Education and other groups have pushed for years to prohibit discipline methods that include sitting on students as restraint or putting them in a locked room. The new rules under the Special Education Isolation and Restraint Modernization and Behavioral Supports Act allow districts to restrain or isolate them under certain conditions. Among steps banned are tie-down straps, use of locked or barricaded rooms or any restraint that restricts air. To read more, click here

An Uncertain Future for 'No Child Left Behind'

Former President George W. Bush finished his tenure without having won congressional renewal of his No Child Left Behind policy, which in a seven-year span has increased nationwide tracking of student achievement. With President Barack Obama now at the helm, Bush's prized project is up for debate.  It's unclear what Obama and just-confirmed U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will change in the policy; they'll need support from Congress. But the new president has been critical of it, echoing teachers' concerns about the costs of NCLB mandates for student improvement and the disparities in state standardized tests. Arizona school educators and parents have a host of suggestions for polishing the policy that aims to hold teachers and schools accountable for student achievement. Their thoughts are combined here as an informal memo to the president and his education administrators. To read more, click here

'Free And Appropriate'

According to the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, all children are entitled to receive a "free and appropriate" public education, and the school district is responsible for providing what is necessary to create a substantial learning environment for all children, at no cost to the child or parents. This means that regardless of a child's ability, it is the school's responsibility to make sure each child gets what he or she needs to receive a quality education. This could range from providing educational equipment like software, to providing wheelchairs and ramps, to providing health care professionals or specialized educators. While "free and appropriate" sounds like a simple requirement, for educators and parents, it's the greatest bone of contention. The word "free" is defined easily enough, but the word "appropriate" has no spelled-out definition when it comes to special education, and leaves a lot of room for debate. To read more, click here

An Open Letter To President Obama About Education

Dear President Obama: Congratulations on your historic election to be our president. Your life story truly exemplifies the realization of an American Dream. Like you, I have had the opportunity to live that dream as a teacher for the last 30 years in the public schools of Wyoming County, New York. As you assume the reins of power of our great country, there's something important I need you to know: Mr. President-elect, my school is not failing. I know the popular meme echoed by media outlets and various special interest groups across the political spectrum perpetuates as fact the mythology that all public schools are failing. Maybe some schools are failing, but I'm happy to say that here in Wyoming County, our schools are quite successful, thank you very much. 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, click here

Utah Families Demand Coverage for Autism Care

Saying autism should be treated like other childhood illnesses such as cancer and diabetes, two lawmakers and 30 community supporters promoted a bill Thursday that would require insurance companies to cover up to $50,000 a year in autism therapy. "We realize it's an uphill battle in getting it passed," said chief sponsor Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper. "We believe it is a barbaric society in which health insurance covers Viagra for older people and yet will not cover autism treatment for younger children." Stephenson has opposed insurance mandates in the past, including for birth control and fertility treatments, but said he considered those measures less-important "nice-to-haves." Bill drafters have not yet calculated how much the mandate would cost Utahns who pay private insurance premiums. But supporters said states with similar mandates have found premiums rise on average up to $1.25 per policy holder per year. It would also cost the state and local governments an undetermined amount, because government employees' insurance plan would be part of the mandate. To read more, click here

Traits of Autism 'Spread Widely'

The Institute of Child Health team says diagnosed children have severe versions of character traits probably shared by millions of others. The 8,000 child study found even these mild traits could impair development. Boys - who make up the bulk of autism diagnoses - were most likely to be affected, the US journal study found. Scientists have understood for some time that the "autistic spectrum" covers a wide range of children with differing levels of problems, from relatively mild cases to severely disabling problems. However, a relatively small number of children - approximately 116 per 10,000 - are said to have an autistic disorder. The UK research, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry provides further evidence that the same traits do not begin and end there, but continue at into the whole population of children, just at a level which does not lead parents to seek medical help. Seeing autism as a "distinct illness" was probably wrong, they said. To read more click here

School Districts To Receive Millions In Special Education Funding

The state of California recently settled a lawsuit regarding special education requirements that will give local school districts millions of dollars. The suit was filed by San Diego Unified School District, Butte County Office of Education and Joaquin County Office of Education, which alleged that state standards for special education classes were more stringent than federal requirements, officials said. The settlement, reached last month, will increase the annual state budget allocation for special education classes by $65 million and give a $510 million reimbursement to California school districts. Orange County school districts will get about $7 million a year in reimbursement funds beginning in 2011 and continuing for six years, according to School Services of California officials. School districts will also receive about $11 more per student per day to pay for special education programs. The exact ongoing amount each school district will receive has not yet been determined. To read more,click here

Food for Thought........

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
                Nelson Mandela

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