Week in Review - July 9, 2010


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

Dear NASET Members:

Welcome to NASET'sWEEK 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

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New This Week on NASET

Practical Teacher

School-Wide Strategies for Managing Reading  

The ability to read allows individuals access to the full range of a culture's artistic and scientific knowledge. Reading is a complex act. Good readers are able fluently to decode the words on a page, to organize and recall important facts in a text, to distill from a reading the author's opinions and attitudes, and to relate the content of an individual text to a web of other texts previously read. The foundation that reading rests upon is the ability to decode. Emergent readers require the support of more accomplished readers to teach them basic vocabulary, demonstrate word attack strategies, model fluent reading, and provide corrective feedback and encouragement. Newly established readers must build fluency and be pushed to exercise their reading skills across the widest possible range of settings and situations. As the act of decoding becomes more effortless and automatic, the developing reader is able to devote a greater portion of cognitive energy to understanding the meaning of the text. Reading comprehension is not a single skill but consists of a cluster of competencies that range from elementary strategies for identifying and recalling factual content to highly sophisticated techniques for inferring an author's opinions and attitudes. As researcher Michael Pressley points out, reading comprehension skills can be thought of as unfolding along a timeline. The focus of this issue of the Practical Teacher is to present instructional strategies to promote word decoding, reading decoding, and reading comprehension.
To read or download this issue - Click here  

Parent Teacher ConferenceHandout

Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities

If you are a special education teacher at the secondary level there will be times when your students with special needs will be attending post-secondary education. This is most certainly a time of anxiety and fears of the unknown. This Parent Teacher Conference Handout is geared more for the students than the parents, although parents reading this can assist their children in positive ways. 
To read or download this issue - Click Here

Quick Links To NASET

Brain Atrophy Responsible for Depression in People Battling Multiple Sclerosis

Adding to all that ails people managing their multiple sclerosis is depression, for which MS sufferers have a lifetime risk as high as 50 percent. Yet despite its prevalence, the cause of this depression is not understood. It's not related to how severe one's MS is, and it can occur at any stage of the disease. That suggests it is not simply a psychological reaction that comes from dealing with the burden of a serious neurologic disorder. Now, in the first such study in living humans, researchers at UCLA suggest a cause, and it's not psychological, but physical: atrophy of a specific region of the hippocampus, a critical part of the brain involved in mood and memory, among other functions. To read more, click here

Watchdog Says Chicago School Officials Aren't Evaluating Special Education Students

Claiming that Chicago Public Schools routinely fails to properly evaluate young children for special education services, an advocacy group has filed a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Education. Equip for Equality, the state's federally mandated watchdog for people with disabilities, said in its complaint that "hundreds of children between the ages of 3 and 5, who have been referred for evaluations, wait many months to receive a response to their request for an evaluation, or worse, never receive one." The complaint includes 14 specific cases in which children did not receive timely evaluations, and Olga Pribyl, managing attorney for the group's special education legal advocacy clinic, said they have information on hundreds of other such cases. To read more, click here

School Daze: Schools Need to be Creative to Make up for Serious Budget Cuts

As the summer heats up, school districts across the United States are trying to shore up budgets and realign programs pressured by gaps in state aid and other recession-triggered shortfalls. Some 300,000 public school personnel nationwide -- more than half of them teachers -- received pink slips before the end of the school year, and though some likely will be retained thousands likely won't be seeing the inside of a classroom again for some time. The National Education Association estimates there were 3.23 million elementary and secondary teachers in the 2008-09 school year. What will the cuts mean for schoolchildren? Nothing good, says Floyd K. Morris Jr., president of Children's Futures, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation non-profit in Trenton, N.J. "It's going to drop us further behind a lot of other countries," Morris said in a recent interview. "We're probably investing a lot fewer resources than China, France and other European countries. It's not good for the United States on a number of levels." Most at risk are early childhood programs and extracurricular activities, Morris said. To read more, click here


Guess the answer to this week's trivia question and we'll recognize you in next week's Week in Review.

In this 1995 movie, a professional musician would like to spend more time composing. So, in 1965 he takes up teaching at a local high school. Little does he realize how little free time there will be as a teacher. Initially, he is frustrated at his inability to get through to his students but over time, he becomes quite competent at his profession and in fact has a number of successes. At home, he is devastated to learn that his infant son is deaf and struggles over the years to develop a relationship with him. What is the movie?

If you know the answer, send an email to contactus@naset.org
Congratulations to:
Dr. Vaughn E. Hales  Patrick Crandon         Brenda Cavanaugh
Lisa Keneally              Ross Jones                  Soncyree L. Lee                 Amanda McClure        Rajasri Govindaraju    Tina Theuerkauf              Robin W. Donaldson   Loretta Steven             Lisa Rotella

who correctly identified the answer to last week's trivia question: In 1963, who coined the term "Learning Disabilities" while giving a speech to a group that would become the Association for Children with Learning Disabilities (and, ultimately, the the Learning Disabilities Association of America, and of many other countries, too)?  


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Legislation to Ban Corporal Punishment in Schools Hits Congress Paddling Targets Minorities, Children With Disabilities

The debate on corporal punishment reached Washington today where a New York congresswoman introduced legislation to remove paddles from U.S. schools. While the idea of taking a paddle to a student's backside may seem archaic, even barbaric, it's still a well-regarded form of discipline in some corners of the country, mostly in the South. U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., said she's hoping to get her bill folded into a larger education package that could be debated later this year. She told ABCNews.com that she sees corporal punishment as a school safety issue that breeds more problems than it solves. "We know that children that are paddled end up being more aggressive," she said. "They learned that conflict is handled by striking out and hitting." To read more, click here

Disability Still Proves a Barrier to Education in Oman

As Oman's only blind woman to hold a PhD, Sharifa al Said knows about the difficulties facing the visually impaired in a country that lags behind others in providing equal opportunities for the disabled. The 48-year-old social worker, who last month earned her PhD in the Unites States, had to battle through an education system which has no facilities in the mainstream schools to help the deaf and the blind. Having written her thesis on developing literacy for the visually impaired, Ms al Said is now urging both the private sector and government to employ more blind people. "One of the challenges that I see in Oman is that people with disabilities are not given credit for their achievements," she said. "They need to be given more opportunities to work and provide accessibilities for them. Society as a whole has to be more open and accept them as individuals. "People with disabilities in the US already have a place in society and laws to protect their rights. We need that in Oman." To read more, click here

UN Accuses Massachusetts Special Education School of Torture

Teachers and administrators at a school in Massachusetts torture students into obedience through electric shocks, the United Nations charges. And school officials admit that's true. They just don't see why it's a problem. They claim the alternative would be to drug students into stupors and ship them off to institutions. Hurting them with electricity, they insist, is more humane. The Judge Rotenberg Center near Boston has come under fire for its use of electric shocks for years. The private school educates and treats students from 3-year-olds to adults. Many of the 250 students have severe emotional, behavioral and psychiatric problems -- including autism-like conditions. ABC News reports about half the students receive electric shocks on a regular basis. A device gives a two-second jolt to the skin on an arm or legs. It hurts, Matthew Israel, the doctor who runs the center and developed the treatment, admitted in an interview with ABC News three years ago. To read more, click here

Did You Know That......

When school-age children acquire a second language after they already speak a first language, they generally take 3 to 5 years to become as fluent as native-speaking agemates

State 'Mainstreaming' Efforts Go To Judge

Students with intelectual disabilities have been incorporated into many regular classrooms in Connecticut, but they are often stuck in the back of the room or over to the side and usually aren't doing the same work as the rest of the class, according to special-education advocates. But Connecticut officials say the state has made tremendous progress and now ranks second in the country for "mainstreaming" intellectually disabled students. The question is, has Connecticut done enough to integrate such students into classrooms, neighborhood schools and school-sponsored extracurricular activities? U.S. District Court Judge Robert N. Chatigny must now decide whether the state Department of Education has lived up to the requirements of a settlement agreement in an almost 2-decade-old lawsuit. Plaintiffs in the case, known as PJ et. al. v. Connecticut, said in closing arguments Tuesday that the state is in "substantial non-compliance" with several areas of the settlement. To read more, click here

Kids Have Fun Learning Film Making at Camp for Children with Autism

It's a challenge for 18-year-old Jessica Luksic to talk to people whom she doesn't know well, or to make eye contact with them even if she does. She has autism, a disorder that can cause social awkwardness and communication problems. But thanks to the Healing Every Autistic Life Film Camp at the University of North Florida, she had opportunities to interact with many people of all ages during the past two weeks. She also learned a lot about producing, directing, editing and acting in films. She starred in one too, under the direction of actor/director/producerJoey Travolta, brother of actor John Travolta. "This is her third year in the camp," Lynette McCann, Jessica's mom, said Wednesday as she dropped her daughter off. To read more click here

Washington D.C. Mayor Outlines Plans to Cut Special Education Costs and Return Students to Public Schools

The administration of D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, seeking to whittle the annual $280 million cost of sending special education students to private schools, said Thursday that it will study several options to return as many as possible to the city's public schools. The options, which officials said they will present to parents in meetings over the next few weeks, include forming public-private partnerships to build new facilities, co-locating "schools within schools" in joint ventures with private operators, expanding special education services in neighborhood schools by establishing separate classes for students who need full-time services, modernizing the city's special education schools and retraining staff, and offering scholarship-type grants so parents can buy special education services on the open market. Fenty announced the initiative 90 minutes after his rival in the Democratic mayoral primary, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, unveiled his schools platform. Fenty's plan was designed in part to address recent criticism from special education parents who have expressed alarm at District attempts to "reintegrate" private school students without what they describe as adequate advance notice or careful consideration of their needs. 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

Did You Know That.....

Approximately 15 percent of American children speak a language other than English at home.

Payment Schedule Slow in Georgia Special Needs Voucher Plan

Georgia private schools are feeling a bit misunderstood. In 2007, the General Assembly passed a law establishing the Special Needs Scholarship, a voucher system that gives students with disabilities a way to attend a private school of their choice. Parents see notable academic improvement, and students actually like going to school again. But there are a few kinks. Several private schools have reported the payment schedule isn't timely, and a few are taking out loans to pay personnel until the reimbursement check arrives. Parents have complained the enrollment period between May and August is too short and growing narrower each year. Advocates have noted the limited use of the program and the lack of publicity about the scholarship. Legislators attempted to address the problems this spring, but the bill only made it to a second reading in the Senate. Parts of the legislation were tacked onto a House bill that was sure to pass, but Gov. Sonny Perdue vetoed it, citing budget concerns. Supporters are looking for another place to go. To read more, click here

Inside the Life of a Person with Disabilities

Imagine for a moment what it would be like if you couldn't see or if you were confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk. It's a reality for people living with disabilities, but that doesn't mean these special people can't lead happy, fulfilling lives. Tonight we meet one such person. Her name is Mindy and in her mother's words, she's an absolute "joy." Mindy Hopkins, 37, loves doing puzzles at Josina Lott Residential and Community Services. She's getting some help today from her mother. Mindy is a twin. After a normal birth, she got extremely ill and suffered 2 strokes at 5-weeks-old. After living at home for 24 years, Josina Lott became her home. Her mother, Shelley Miner, says, "Placing Mindy was probably the hardest thing that I ever had to do, but it turned out to be the best thing that I did." Mindy enjoys all kinds of activities here. She goes out to eat and volunteers come in with special programs. She even had a job, and of course, she looks forward to the annual lawn games coming up on July 10. It's an event for family and friends of residents, and anyone in the community who wants to have a better understanding of people living with disabilities. To read more, click here

Exposure to Secondhand Smoke in the Womb Has Lifelong Impact

Newborns of non-smoking moms exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy have genetic mutations that may affect long-term health, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health study published online in the Open Pediatric Medicine Journal. The abnormalities, which were indistinguishable from those found in newborns of mothers who were active smokers, may affect survival, birth weight and lifelong susceptibility to diseases like cancer. The study confirms previous research in which study author Stephen G. Grant, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental and occupational health at Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health, discovered evidence of abnormalities in the HPRT gene located on the X chromosome in cord blood from newborns of non-smokers exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. To read more, click here

Cooking Club Helps Children with Autism Build Life Skills

Brownie pizza was the featured entree at a recent cooking club meeting in Burlington County. Four tiny chefs scrambled around the kitchen in the Medford community center, grating their white chocolate "cheese" and taking a quick break for "pin the pepperoni on the pizza." Brownie pizza may not be the most essential recipe for a 9-year-old to master, but Rosy Gruber says the cooking is secondary for her son, Jason. "I tell people he's going to a cooking class and they think, 'Oh, he's learning to cook.' No, he's learning to be a competent human being," she said. The class is part of a program organized by KidsAhead Consulting & Center for Development, which works with autistic children and their families to foster emotional development and basic life skills. KidsAhead offers consultations and parent education, with supplemental summer programs such as the cooking club, a crafts club, and a summer camp. To read more, click here

Aggressive Teachers 'Harm Pupils Education'

A hard-line approach to discipline can easily backfire because children fail to learn properly when they are scared, it was claimed. In a blow to traditionalists, Dr Andrew Curran said that pupils were better stimulated by rewards and a "loving" culture generated by teachers. He said almost half of pupils were turned off lessons in the first six months of secondary education because of the shock caused by moving from the more secure surroundings of a small primary school. It comes despite claims from Sir Alan Steer, the Government's chief advisor on behaviour, that the threat of a "right royal rollicking" was the best way to crack down on troublemakers. But Dr Curran, paediatric neurologist at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Merseyside, said pupils could not learn in a hostile environment. "Teachers that repeatedly shout at kids are clearly failing," he said. "They are showing a complete misunderstanding of the human brain. "The fact is that the more fear children experience, the less likely they are to retain what they are being taught." To read more, click here

National School Lunch Program Increases Educational Achievement

A new article from the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management is the first to evaluate the long-term health and educational effects of participation in the National School Lunch Program. The study finds that the program leads to a significant increase in educational opportunity and attainment, but an insignificant increase in health levels from childhood to adulthood. The Congress-led program, which first began in 1946 under President Harry S. Truman, built off the existing New Deal food subsidy programs, first started under Franklin D. Roosevelt. The program was largely inspired by the disqualification of sixteen percent of eligible soldiers from serving in World War II, due to malnutrition or underfeeding causes, and was originally perceived as a "measure of national security." Dr. Peter Hinrichs, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University and author of the study, remarks, "My research found that the National School Lunch Program has not had a dramatic effect on health into adulthood, but it has had a significant effect on educational attainment. School feeding programs, and the National School Lunch Program in particular, have some effect on adult health, but do not necessarily improve every outcome we hoped they would improve." Federal spending on the program is now measured at over eight billion annually. To read more, click here

Limiting the Special Education Numbers in Ohio Through Response to Intervention (RTI)

Bedford Public Schools is working to correct the disproportionate number of students considered eligible for special education services. It was the only district in Monroe County tagged for this by the federal government. The county started a response-to-intervention pilot program at Monroe Road Elementary School in 2008 to intervene early and let students try using other services before special education. School officials say the program is a success - with only five instead of 58 students qualifying for special education last year - and a committee is forming this fall to consider standardizing response-to-intervention programs in the district. But some teachers worry that in directing students away from special education, the program will lead to larger class sizes and an overwhelming work load for general education teachers. To read more, click here

Did You Know That......

Research suggests that bilingualism has positive consequences for development.  Children who are fluent in languages do better than others on test of selective attention, analytical reasoning, concept formation and cognitive flexibility.

Understanding How Folic Acid Might Help Heal Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries

Babies born to women who do not consume enough folic acid (sometimes referred to as folate or vitamin B9) are at high risk of developing neural tube defects (i.e., defects in the development of the spinal cord or brain). This is the reason underlying the recommendation that women who are pregnant take a folic acid supplement. A team of researchers, led by Bermans Iskandar, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has now generated data in rodents suggesting that folic acid might also help promote healing in injured brain and spinal cord. Specifically, the team was able to uncover a molecular pathway by which folate can promote nerve cell regeneration following injury in rodents. To read more, click here

Muscular Problems in Children With Neonatal Diabetes Are Neurological

The muscle weakness and coordination problems sometimes seen in patients with neonatal diabetes -- a rare, inherited form of diabetes -- are caused by problems in the brain rather than the muscles, according to new research. The findings could pave the way for the development of improved treatments for the disease. In 2004, Professor Frances Ashcroft at the University of Oxford and Professor Andrew Hattersley at the Peninsula Medical School discovered that the condition was caused by a genetic defect which produces an overactive version of a protein, which acts as a potassium channel known as the KATP channel. This channel controls the release of insulin from the beta cells of the pancreas and when the channel becomes overactive, it prevents the release of insulin. Lack of insulin, which controls the blood sugar level, results in diabetes. To read more, click here

Food for Thought........

The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.
                   Vince Lombardi

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