By Laura McKenna
When Stasi Webber decided it was time to uproot her family from their Michigan home to find a better school for her 11-year-old son with autism, she turned to the internet for answers.
The public schools in her state don’t provide the specialized behavioral and life skills training, known as ABA therapy, that her son needs; he skips school every Tuesday and Thursday to receive these essential services. But recently, Webber learned from parents on social media that her son could get both academics and ABA training in schools in New Jersey, where she grew up.
With a tentative plan of returning to her childhood home in Mahwah, she found three or four local social media sites run by special education parents and asked about ABA services at the local district, its willingness to send students to specialized schools and comparisons with nearby towns. She put her house on the market.
Source: Parents of Kids With Special Needs Find Advice Navigating The System Online – Mindshift
By Nick Sestanovich
In 2007, filmmaker and producer Joey Travolta founded Inclusion Films to teach filmmaking skills to individuals with developmental disabilities. This gave way to a series of camps aimed at imparting these skills to children and adults with disabilities and helping them make their own short films.
This past week, Solano students got their turn when Inclusion Films partnered with the Solano County Office of Education to bring the camp to Golden Hills Community School in Fairfield.
For the past two weeks, 48 students in the camp have been coming up with story ideas, writing scripts, memorizing lines, shooting film and doing everything that is typical of a Hollywood production.
Source: Adults with developmental differences learn film skills at camp – The Reporter
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today congratulated the Trabuco Hills High School Unified Champion School Program in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District for winning the 2019 Grazer Outstanding Achievement in Learning (GOAL) award. This award is given annually by the California Advisory Commission on Special Education (ACSE), recognizing an outstanding program that serves students with disabilities.
Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools provide students with and without disabilities opportunities for peer-to-peer engagement through sports and leadership programs.
“The inclusion practices initiated through this program provide a tremendous benefit to not only the students participating, but the entire school community,” said Thurmond. “When students with and without disabilities are provided authentic opportunities to learn and play together, this creates a climate where inclusion is the norm and diversity is honored.”
Source: State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Congratulates Winner of Special Education Learning Award – CDE
By Christina Samuels
An Obama-era Education Department policy relating to racial bias in special education was on, then off, and now is back on again.
The rule was supposed to have gone into effect for the 2018-19 school year but was delayed for two years by the department until a court blocked that move.
The implementation whipsaw is expected to cause problems for states that had relied on the delay of the policy, which relates to disproportional representation of minorities in special education. And these new rules could affect how millions of dollars in federal special education funds are spent at the district level.
Source: Ed. Dept. Reverts to Original Timeline for Rules on Racial Bias in Special Education – On Special Education – Education Week
By Richard Freedman
It was a day Spider-Man, Captain America and Wonder Woman gladly surrendered the spotlight Friday to the lesser known super heroes — Special Olympics athletes.
With a weather reprieve between unusual May rains, roughly 100 special needs students ran the 50-yard dash, hurled a javelin and leaped some hurdles in the annual event at Vallejo High School’s Corbus Field.
Seven Vallejo elementary schools, three middle schools, Bethel and Vallejo high schools, Adult Transition School and the Benicia Unified School District participated — all to the delight of Dr. Adam Clark, Vallejo City Unified School District superintendent.
Source: Special Olympics athletes get weather break at Corbus – Times-Herald
By Nick Sestanovich
Over at Armijo High School’s gym, the bass was thumping and fists were pumping for Solano County’s annual prom Friday morning for students with special needs, which proved to be a good time for all.
With the theme being “An Evening in the Enchanted Garden,” the room was strewn with flowers and images of iconic Disney fairies. The feeling of a magic garden was captured as special needs students throughout the county got to dress in their finest outfits, play games and dance to their hearts’ content, all while getting to be themselves.
Lynne Lee, a teacher in Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District’s adapted physical education department, said the event started more than 25 years ago.
Source: Solano special needs students dance the morning away at annual prom – The Reporter
By Nick Sestanovich
In the late morning hours Friday, special education students throughout Solano County got to have the Dixon May Fair all to themselves, enjoying the rides, livestock exhibitions and food — hours before the fair officially opened for the day.
The event, held by local Rotary Clubs throughout the county in conjunction with the Solano County Office of Education, has been a staple for 26 years. Bill Seiden, event chair and member of the Vacaville Noon Rotary Club, said it started in 1993 as a fishing derby.
“There had been a previous history of a special needs gathering at the May Fair,” he said. “When I learned that, we decided to move it here as a Special Needs Day at the fair, and we’ve been doing it ever since.”
Source: Special needs students get day to themselves at Dixon May Fair – The Reporter
By Christina Samuels
The U.S. Department of Education will appeal a judge’s ruling that could affect how school districts across the country spend millions of dollars in federal special education money.
The department has wanted to delay the implementation of a rule related to how states monitor their school districts’ identification of minority students for special education, in addition to their discipline or placement in restrictive settings. Districts found to have “significant disproportionality” of minority students in one or more of these areas, compared to white students, must set aside 15 percent of their federal special education funding to spend on remedies.
Source: Education Department to Appeal Decision on Special Education Bias Rule – On Special Education – Education Week
By Nick Sestanovich
With 2019 being an odd-numbered year, one would assume there are no Olympics games being held. This was not the case at Rodriguez High School Thursday morning.
For the fourth year in a row, the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District and the Special Olympics of Northern California came together to provide an assortment of track & field games and competitions for special needs and special education students in the district. In the past, elementary and high school students have had their own Special Olympics events, but this was the first year with an event exclusively for middle schoolers. Teams from the six participating schools — B. Gale Wilson, Crystal Middle School, David Weir K-8 Preparatory Academy, Grange Middle School, Green Valley Middle School and Oakbrook Academy of the Arts — paraded down the Rodriguez track, holding up banners as crowds cheered them on while Leo Arnaud’s “Bugler’s Dream” — best known as the Olympics theme — blared from the speakers.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun athletes compete in first middle school Special Olympics track event – The Reporter
By Christina Samuels
There’s been more than 24 hours of social media furor over the Trump administration’s proposal to cut the federal government’s $18 million contribution to Special Olympics.
But at least some anger also has been directed at a cut that doesn’t really exist, amplified by media outlets who repeated a congressman’s misreading of a budget table. When U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited a House education subcommittee on Tuesday, she was pressed on the budget by Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin. After sparring over Special Olympics, Pocan interrupted DeVos to talk about other programs.
Source: What Special Education Cuts Are Really Proposed in the Trump Budget? – On Special Education – Education Week
The Fairfield-Suisun City Visual Arts Association invites the Public to the Solano Town Center Gallery, located at 1350 Travis Blvd., Fairfield, on the second floor outside of Macy’s. Join us in celebrating the opening of a new Exhibit, “All About Texture”. The show opens on Wednesday, April 3 at 11am and runs thru May 19. The Gallery is open Wednesday thru Sunday 11 am – 6 pm. The Opening Reception will be held on Saturday, April 6, 3-5 pm. The show will spotlight artwork by Featured Artist, Cherol Ockrassa from American Canyon. During the Reception, you can meet Cherol and other local artists, enjoy wine supplied by BackRoad Vines and light refreshments provided by the FSVAA.
Source: “All About Texture” & Adult Education Fundraiser
By Christina Samuels
Is this the year that Congress will take up the long-overdue renewal of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act—plus boost funding for the law?
The National School Boards Association wants to see both. Advocating for “full funding” of IDEA is a perennial issue, but the association is also drawing attention to the fact that the law, last reauthorized in 2004, needs to be rewritten to address more up-to-date concerns about educating students with disabilities.
“This is our big initiative, our big push for this Congress,” said Thomas Gentzel, the executive director of the school boards association.
Source: National School Boards Association Pushes for Federal Special Education Law Overhaul – On Special Education – Education Week
By Nick Sestanovich
The walls of the multipurpose room at Three Oaks Community Center were lined with balloons. Attendees arrived dressed in tuxedos, fedoras, red velvet dresses and high heels.
Photo booths were set up for them to take pictures with friends and hit songs by Taylor Swift, The Chainsmokers and DJ Khaled filled the room while people danced.
This could have been a scene from any high school prom. What made it unique was that the attendees were all individuals with special needs and their families, giving them their own night to remember.
Source: Special needs prom gives individuals a night to shine – The Reporter
By The Washington Post
Patrick Cox, a junior at Quaker Valley High School in the Pittsburgh suburbs, has learning disabilities, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder – ADHD – or what he calls “not giving two licks.”
Like most special-education students in this country, he has an individualized education program, known as an IEP. It is supposed to help him overcome his disability. Such programs have mixed results, but Cox’s experience has been different because of the unusual character of his school.
Educators are often reluctant to put students like him into challenging college-level courses, such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate. They legitimately fear that children with disabilities will gain nothing but stress and anxiety from the experience.
Source: School unlocks students’ potential by doing something radical: Listening to them
By Christina Samuels
The Education Department’s offices for civil rights and for special education and rehabilitative services are teaming up to “address the inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion” on students with disabilities.
The agencies on Thursday outlined three areas that they will focus on: conducting compliance reviews of school districts, providing resources on legalities and on interventions that could “reduce the need for less effective and potentially dangerous practices”; and on improving data collection on the use of restraint and seclusion.
“This initiative will not only allow us to support children with disabilities, but will also provide technical assistance to help meet the professional learning needs of those within the system serving students,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement. “The only way to ensure the success of all children with disabilities is to meet the needs of each child with a disability. This initiative furthers that important mission.”
Source: Ed. Dept. Pushes to Reduce ‘Inappropriate’ Restraint, Seclusion in Special Education – On Special Education – Education Week
By Nick Sestanovich
School groups and families of children with special needs braved the cold, overcast weather Friday to visit Silveyville Tree Farm in Dixon, where they were treated to hot cider and popcorn, a sleigh ride and a visit from Santa Claus.
It was the farm’s 27th annual holiday celebration for children with disabilities.
The tradition was established in 1991 through the efforts of parents of special needs children.
Source: Silveyville’s day for special needs children brings families together – The Reporter
By Paul Warren, Laura Hill
What are the most significant challenges in California’s K–12 school system today? A new report, Getting Down to Facts II, recently released comprehensive findings. PPIC was asked to weigh in on the topic of special education.
We contributed an update to our 2016 report, Special Education Finance in California. This report concluded that state funding for services to students with disabilities is inequitable, inadequate, and lacks transparency. It also fails to provide the same level of local control as other state funding programs. In addition, preschool services to infants and toddlers with disabilities are lacking.
Our new report, Revisiting Finance and Governance Issues in Special Education, expands the analysis of these issues. Overall, we suggest that weaving greater accountability into governance and finance of special education has the potential to improve equity for students with special needs.
Source: Improving Special Education in California – Public Policy Institute of California
By Kristin Schumacher
For the fifth year in a row, funding for California’s subsidized child care and development system has increased. This system provides critical child care and early learning opportunities for a limited number of children from low- and moderate-income families, but state funding was cut dramatically during and after the Great Recession, while federal funding for subsidized child care remained relatively flat. This meant that fewer children and families received subsidized care than prior to the onset of the Great Recession. However, state policymakers have incrementally reinvested in these programs and services beginning with the 2014-15 state fiscal year, and bipartisan support for subsidized child care at the federal level has resulted in newly available federal funds, as well. Due to these investments, after adjusting for inflation, overall funding for California’s subsidized child care and development system in the 2018-19 fiscal year is $3.887 billion, 15% greater than in 2017-18 ($3.375 billion), and nearly even with funding levels in 2007-08, prior to the onset of the Great Recession (see chart).
Source: Dollars for Child Care and Preschool in 2018-19 Near Pre-Recession Levels With Boost From One-Time Funding – California Budget & Policy Center
By Alexa Lardieri
The high number of racial minorities placed in special education for learning disabilities is largely because of social injustices separate from schools, not racially biased educators, according to a new study.
The study by Portland State University published in The Sociological Quarter used a statistical method to compare kids with comparable academic levels and socioeconomic status and found that racial minorities are actually less likely than white children to be labeled as having a learning disability, according to a press release from the university.
Dara Shifrer, lead author of the study and sociology professor in the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, believes a student’s socioeconomic status is a strong indicator of academic performance, which is often used to diagnose learning disabilities. Because African-American and Hispanic students are often at a socioeconomic disadvantage compared to white students, they may not perform as well, leading to a learning disabled diagnosis.
Source: Study: Minorities Labeled Learning Disabled Because of Social Inequalities | Education News | US News
By Allison F. Gilmour
The model of special education known as inclusion, or mainstreaming, has become more prevalent over the past 10 years, and today, more than 60 percent of all students with disabilities (SWDs) spend 80 percent or more of their school day in regular classrooms, alongside their non-disabled peers (see Figure 1). This is not the full inclusion favored by some disability advocates, wherein all SWDs would be educated in inclusive classrooms all day; however, many supporters celebrate the increasing acceptance of differently abled students in general education as an opportunity to improve the academic and long-term trajectories of these traditionally underserved learners. In theory, inclusion provides SWDs with access to the grade-level curriculum and the same educational opportunities as their peers.
Unfortunately, research has yielded only weak evidence that inclusion confers benefits on SWDs. Studies that report better academic and behavioral outcomes for SWDs who are taught in a general-education setting suffer from methodological flaws. Even less evidence suggests that general-education teachers are adequately prepared to meet the unique academic and behavioral needs of SWDs. Further, studies of inclusion seem to assume that SWDs are educated in a vacuum; that is, they fail to examine the experiences of non-disabled classmates.
Source: Has Inclusion Gone Too Far? Weighing its effects on students with disabilities, their peers, and teachers – Education Next : Education Next