Week in Review - September 4, 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.

NASETNews Team

New This Week on NASET

Special Educator e-Journal

September 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
  • Intersection: Navigating the Road to Work
  • The CADRE Caucus: News from the Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE)
  • New Projects
  • Calls to Participate
  • Special Education Resources
  • Upcoming Conferences, Workshops, and Events
  • Funding Forecast and Award Opportunities
To read this issue: Click Here  (login required)

Quick Links To NASET

Senator Edward Kennedy Touched The Lives Of Many With Disabilities

After 15 months of fruitless appeals to elected officials to help her son with autism after he lost government benefits at age 21, the Haitian immigrant wrote to her senator, "the only one who can understand what it takes to raise a child with disabilities. Within three weeks, Kennedy, whose sister Rosemary was mentally disabled, replied and set his staff to work. They secured vocational and life skills training for Reggie that allowed a young man who once went six years without speaking to hold a job, rent an apartment and live on his own at age 37. And that allowed his mother to finally earn a college degree last year at 58. "I have my life back, and my son is no longer under my care 24 hours a day," says the Medford, Mass., community organizer. "He made my dream come true." The "lion of the Senate" never roared about his work for Milorin. Or for the families of 9/11 victims from Massachusetts whom Kennedy phoned as the World Trade Center still smoldered. Or Washington, D.C.'s Brent Elementary School, where he mentored students every week for more than a decade. Yet as the rich and famous gathered to pay tribute Friday, those with lesser-known names recalled how he touched their lives, too. "He was always reaching out," says Democratic strategist Donna Brazile. Kennedy called her after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the homes of her family in Louisiana four years ago.  To read more, click here

C.W. Post Launches Bicycle Program For Individuals With Disabilities

The new Center for Community Inclusion at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University is teaming up with Lose the Training Wheels and the Down Syndrome Advocacy Foundation on a program that teaches individuals with disabilities to independently ride a conventional two-wheel bicycle. The program will be held from Aug. 10-14 on the Brookville campus, which is located at 720 Northern Boulevard.  Lose the Training Wheels is a national organization that uses adapted equipment, trained professionals and volunteers. With 75 minutes of instruction each day for five days, approximately 85 percent of participants learn to ride a conventional bicycle independently. "The program serves a critical community need in a creative, humanitarian way that involves a collaboration among our skilled and dedicated faculty, college students who are preparing for careers in the field of special education, and young people with and without developmental disabilities," said Dr. Kathleen Feeley, assistant professor of special education and literacy at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. "The program helps students with developmental disabilities to build self-esteem and independence." 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

Panel Suggests That Arizona Should Ban Paddling Of School Children

Arizona should forbid corporal punishment in schools, a state education task force has recommended.  All nine members of the task force assembled this summer agreed on the ban, said panel Chairman Michael Remus, Deer Valley Unified School District's special-education director. "The reason for this is that it is punitive and does not redirect the (student's) behavior to something more positive," Remus said. "The student does not learn the appropriate behavior through this method of punishment." Remus added that the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act urges school staff to manage bad behaviors through positive techniques that inspire student to act respectfully and appropriately in class. Arizona is among 20 states that allow school districts to mete out corporal punishment, usually paddling, to control children. To read more, click here

Mom's Suit Claims Son Was Voted Out Of Kindergarten

A woman who claims her 5-year-old was kicked out of his kindergarten class after the teacher held a "'Survivor'-style vote" among fellow students about his disruptive behavior on Thursday sued the teacher, school officials and others. Melissa Barton said that on May 21, 2008, her son Alex was "forced to stand in front of his peers and be told why 'they hated him,' with such comments as (Alex) is 'disgusting' and 'annoying,' 'He eats crayons,' 'Lies on the floor,' 'He eats paper' and 'He eats his boogers.'" The boy didn't return to the class and finished the year in homeschooling. The complaint in Florida's Southern District of federal court targets the St. Lucie County School Board, teacher Wendy Portillo, the principal and vice principal at Morningside Elementary in Port St. Lucie, Superintendent Michael Lannon, the local head of education for special needs and St. Lucie County Classroom Teachers Association and Classified Unit. Alex Barton was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger's syndrome after the incident, in which classmates voted 14-2 against him. To read more,  click here

Become Board Certified In Special Education Through NASET

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

Commentary: Senator Kennedy Was A Champion For Disability Rights

The disability rights movement has lost a giant in our global struggle for equal opportunity, human dignity and self-determination. Sen. Ted Kennedy's leadership as a disability champion was part of a broader commitment to civil and human rights. But his accomplishments in the area of disability law and policy may prove to be his greatest and most long-lasting success as a legislator. Senator Kennedy's commitment to the cause of disability rights was informed by his experience as the brother of Rosemary, who was born with an intellectual disability; and the brother of Eunice, who devoted her life to improving the world's treatment of people with intellectual disabilities. To read more, click here

Young Swimmers Overcome Disabilities

Eleven-year-old Abigail Branson of Madison and 7-year-old Reagan Spence of Brandon, two members of the Mississippi Makos swim team, recently set national records in several swimming events. What makes this remarkable is the fact that both girls were born with Spina Bifida, a neurological condition in which there is abnormal development of the back bones, spinal cord, surrounding nerves, and the fluid-filled sac that surrounds the spinal cord. The defect can occur anywhere along the spine. The lower it is, the more ambulatory the child will be. "It happens in the very early stages of the pregnancy," said Susan Branson, Abigail's mother. "Once the baby is born, emergency surgery is necessary. But it's basically damage control at that point." To read more, click here

UPS Is Sued Over Disability Policy

A federal agency has sued United Parcel Service, accusing it of violating federal law by limiting workers' ability to take medical leave. In a lawsuit filed Thursday in a federal court in Chicago, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said U.P.S. had since at least 2002 had an "inflexible" 12-month leave policy that did not provide for "reasonable accommodation" for disabled employees and instead called for their termination. The agency accused UPS of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and federal civil rights law. To read more, click here

Brain May Use Its 'Mind's Eye' To Control Chaos

When you're searching for a friend in a crowd, it appears that your "mind's eye" acts like a spotlight to scan the scene in front of you until you find the right person. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology monitored the brain activity of monkeys as they searched for a specific tilted, colored bar among a field of bars on a computer screen. The results showed that the monkeys spontaneously shifted their attention in a sequence, like a spotlight that moved from location to location. The study also found that brain waves act like a form of built-in clock that times the shifts in attention from one location to the next. The mind's eye spotlight in the monkeys shifted focus at a rate of 25 times a second. The findings could help improve understanding and treatment of attention-deficit disorder or could lead to ways to increase the rate of cognition in the brain, according to the researchers, who were from MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. To read more, click here

Transit Denies Ousting Loud Boy With Autism

A Canadian city transit authority in Nova Scotia denies allegations that a bus driver ordered a screaming 8-year-old boy with autism off the bus in Halifax. David Croft told The (Halifax) Chronicle-Herald his autistic son Izaak began screaming on a bus as part of an outing with 15 other autistic children and 15 counselors Wednesday. Croft alleges the bus driver ordered the boy off the bus. "When the situation isn't right, his only outlet is this scream, which can be a pretty unnerving sound," he said. Croft is demanding a written apology and a change in policy for the Metro Transit system in dealing with people with neurological disorders, the newspaper said. To read more, click here

MassGeneral Gets 29 Million Dollars From Foundation To Help Found Autism Center

A recent donation from a foundation will help establish an autism center at MassGeneral Hospital. The $29 million donation is been given by Nancy Lurie Marks and her foundation, and will help establish the Lurie Family Autism Center at the hospital. The center will base itself on the hospital's LADDERS program, which helps deal with autism in young people. Lurie Marks said that it has been a "lifelong dream" to help establish a center that can treat people with autism with compassion and dignity. "I believe it is so important to address their many lifelong needs, from the medical care of the child or adult, to learning to find an effective way to communicate, to planning lifetime living and learning opportunities, to advocating for families," Marks said. To read more, click here

Gifted Education 101: What Is Invasive Parenting?

"A Nation of Wimps," a 2008 book by Hara Marano, Editor-at-Large of "Psychology Today," deals with the issue of "helicopter parents," and the effect such micro-managed child-rearing has on the kids they're ostensibly trying to protect. Just in time for Back to School season, the NY Gifted Education Examiner spoke with Ms. Marano about the concerns raised in her book, and how they pertain to gifted children in particular.  To read more, click here

Special Education Cooperative Still Innovative After 40 Years

Veteran teacher Marion Timmons, starting her 30th year working with special needs students at Kirk School in Palatine, wasted no time getting going. After getting acclimated to her new group of junior high students on Wednesday, she plunged right in on Thursday tackling a curriculum that involves heavy use of the computer. Timmons works with students with multiple disabilities, including physical and mental impairments, but that doesn't stop her from integrating technology into the classroom. She points to specialized programs that use single switches for students to activate the computer. They can access literacy programs - one of Timmons' favorites, stories, movement exercises and music, all with one click of a switch. "Many of them have multi-sensory issues, so they need to have programs that stimulate all of their senses," Timmins says. "That's why they always love the ones that include music." To read more, click here

Milwaukee Public Schools Win Reprieve In Special Education Lawsuit

Milwaukee Public Schools finally scored a victory in its ongoing special education class action lawsuit this week over how it should find and compensate students who failed to receive special education services. In June, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Aaron Goodstein issued orders for MPS to seek out hundreds, if not thousands, of students - including regular education students - who might have missed being identified as eligible for special education services between September 2000 and June 2005. Now, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has granted MPS its motion to stay those orders, essentially hitting the pause button on the case. "This (motion to stay) essentially undoes everything from the June 9 order, at least temporarily," Jodi Searl, an MPS special education administrator, said Friday. "The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals basically said no, we don't need to comply with that remedy order right now," she added. To read more, click here

Actress Talks Of Overcoming Barriers

Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin made sure to include the sign for "Windsor" during her speaking engagement here Thursday night. Deaf since she was an infant, the star of the film Children of a Lesser God communicated with her appreciative audience at Caesars Windsor through sign language and an interpreter. "I don't need this," she signed as she set aside a microphone left for her at the podium. Gesturing toward her interpreter, she added with a grin: "That's what I hire him for." Matlin was the keynote speaker for the annual fundraising dinner of the Learning Disabilities Association of Windsor and Essex County. Earlier in the day, she also spoke at a conference held by the public school board, one of the main sponsors of the event. Now 44, Matlin has established herself as an actress who has broken barriers. She's often described as a pioneer for the deaf community, and she's earned a place on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. To read more, click here

Fly Eyes Used To 'See' New Proteins Involved In Memory

Using the eyes of fruit flies, researchers from the US and Ireland have identified new proteins necessary for memory. The discovery not only sheds light on this critical neurological process, but also provides information on a form of mental retardation in humans. "Understanding translational control mechanisms in the brain teaches us how the brain learns and adapts, and will inform the design of treatments for specific types of neurologic disease," said study co-author Dr. Anne-Marie Cziko, of the University of Arizona.  The scientists specifically found that the "fragile X mental retardation protein", which plays a crucial role in the cellular processes involved in learning and memory, needs five other proteins to function normally. To read more, click here

 Amid Hiring Freeze, Principals Leave Jobs Empty

Less than two weeks before the start of school, about 1,800 teaching jobs in New York City remain open as principals appear to be resisting orders to fill vacancies with teachers whose previous positions were eliminated. Facing steep budget cuts, the Education Department enacted a hiring freeze in the spring, requiring principals with openings to hire teachers who are already on the city's payroll but who have no permanent position, often because their schools were closed for poor performance. But many principals prefer new teachers. So in an act of quiet defiance, they are allowing jobs to sit vacant, leading to one of the most difficult hiring seasons in recent history despite the large number of vacancies and the thousands of candidates who could fill them.  To read more, click here

Your Back-To-School Pledge: Get It In Writing

School is under way for another year and whether or not things are going smoothly, the single most important communication tool at a parent's disposal has become email.  Email is now an integral part of doing business and it is a practice that has not been missed by special education professionals.  The "back-n-forth" notebook has been one of the most indispensible communications tools over the years - allowing parents and teacher a way to communicate daily about the needs of their student receiving special education services. As simple a concept as this is, a decade or so ago, it was still not a common practice. Today, the use of the back-n-forth book seems to be waning - only to be replaced by email and direct or phone conversations.  This is a good trend. Over-communication is only a bad thing when the content being communicated is bad. But with different means of communication comes the need for different protocols in dealing with each medium. To read more, click here

Program Helps Brain Injury Patients Get Back On Track

Making a strike in this bowling alley means more than getting an X on the scoreboard. Liz Parish, Harrison Heights Assisted Living: "What we do with people who have had a physical disability is get them back out into the community doing things that they use to do before their injury." Richard Scarbough suffered a brain injury, and like many of the individuals bowling with him, they're proving a disability doesn't have to hinder your life. Statistics show that many people with disabilities sometimes isolate themselves and withdraw from society. Programs like this, offered through Walton Rehab and the Harrison Heights Assisted Living facility are equipped to make a difference in so many lives. To read more, click here

Food for Thought........

In times like these, it is helpful to remember that there have always been times like these.
                             Paul Harvey

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