Monday, October 2, 2017

DRA filed a class action lawsuit against the New York City Department of Education (“DOE”)

On July 27, 2017, DRA filed a class action lawsuit against the New York City Department of Education (“DOE”), the City of New York, and DOE Chancellor Carmen FariƱa, in her official capacity, alleging violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and other anti-discrimination laws on behalf of a class of students with disabilities who attend school in the Bronx and are being denied legally-mandated special education services.
If the New York City Department of Education cannot find providers for related services that a student with a disability needs like occupational therapy or speech therapy, it issues a “voucher” to parents instead called Related Service Authorizations or RSAs. While typically these services would be provided during the school day, the families of children receiving these vouchers are left to fend for themselves, often facing insurmountable obstacles related to limited transportation options, inflexible work schedules, and language barriers. These vouchers go unused at very high rates. In the Bronx, over 63% of the vouchers are not used. The rates of usage are not much better across the City generally as almost half of the over 9,000 vouchers issued in the 2015-2016 school year went unused.
DRA’s goal in this case is to ensure that the DOE develops and implements a remedial plan that includes new practices, policies, and procedures to ensure that all students in the Plaintiff Class receive their related services."

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Report: Washington’s dropout rate is high for students with learning disabilities

 "According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, 35 percent of Washington’s 147,000 Special Education students drop out of high school, a rate among the highest of the 40 states studied."

“It could be that teachers are not well trained to recognize or support kids with learning issues, or that they maintain lower expectations for those students,” said Sheldon Horowitz, an author of the report.

Friday, April 28, 2017

"I'll Call a Civics Strike!" Tucker and Actor Richard Dreyfuss Discuss C...

"I have withdrawn from partisan politics. I am a constitutionalist who believes that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights must be central and the parties must be peripheral. What’s most important for me is what you just mentioned haphazardly, we are over 30. Civics has not been taught in the American public school system since 1970. And that means everyone in Congress never studied the constitution and the bill of rights as you and I might have.
And that is a critical flaw because it’s why we were admired and respected for so long, it gives us our national identity, it tells the world who we are and why we are who we are, and without a frame that gives us values that stand behind the bill of rights, we’re just floating in the air and our sectors of society are not connected.
What’s really important is that the assumptions of the left and the right are all skewed wrong. We have t find areas of agreement and areas that we share. And we do share the notion that education accomplishes certain things. One, it turns students into citizens. And, two, it teaches students how to run the country before it’s their turn to run the country. And, three, it teaches the values of this nation.
People come from all over the world or are born into this nation without the values that we have here. That’s why they came here, to get them. And what are they? You can put them in opportunity, rise by merit, mobility, and freedom. That’s what we sell. And if you don’t want that, you’ve chosen the wrong place. And you don’t get a pass by being born here, you have to learn it. Even the Ten Commandments are not known at birth. You must learn them. And we must learn our values and if we don’t, we are fatally, fatally wounding ourselves. We will not have any way to really combat the ideas behind ISIS because we won’t know our own. And we have to."
 -Richard Dreyfuss

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Why Teachers Unions Don't Want School Choice

USSC reversed the 10th Circuit decision in Endrew F today.

COPAA is pleased that the USSC reversed the 10th Circuit decision in Endrew F today.  We expect this unanimous decision, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, to be transformative in the lives of the students and families for whom the law is intended to benefit.

As COPAA noted in its amicus brief, along with fellow amici Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) and the California Association of Parent Child Advocacy (CAPCA), the IDEA contains substantive requirements for appropriate programming. COPAA argued that the only way to determine whether the IEP meets these requirements is to analyze whether a school district has complied with all of the substantive obligations created by the IDEA.  Congress realized that the planning and initial offering of a particular educational program and course of study would not always lead to a program that would enable the student to make adequate educational progress.  As such, the IDEA requires that the school district make changes in the goals or the services in the IEP to enable the student to make progress.

Today's decision says: “To meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an IEP reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances. Some children with disabilities will advance from grade to grade progressing smoothly through the general education curriculum. For those who cannot, their educational programs must be "appropriately ambitious." Their "goals may differ, but every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives." 

For children being educated in the general education curriculum in the regular classroom, IDEA typically aims for grade-level advancement. For those educated in a modified general education curriculum, a school cannot satisfy its IDEA obligations by planning for "barely more than de minimis progress."  That is because when all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing 'merely more than de minimis' progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all."

Today the USSC affirmed what we know to be the promise of the IDEA.

Monday, March 20, 2017

President Trump's budget - IDEA funding remains

Despite all the rhetoric the president's IDEA funding remains the same -

Maintains approximately $13 billion in funding for IDEA programs to support students with special education needs. This funding provides States, school districts, and other grantees with the resources needed to provide high quality special education and related services to students and young adults with disabilities.

Friday, December 23, 2016

National Affairs FROM ISSUE NUMBER 25 ~ FALL 2015

The Real Obama Education Legacy


"Barack Obama came to office at a time of broad bipartisan support for education reform. And he managed to simultaneously exploit and fracture this goodwill. His aggressive approach politicized nearly all that it touched, leaving in its wake unnecessarily divisive national debates over issues like Common Core and sexual harassment on college campuses. Obama's team went out of its way to attack school vouchers and for-profit colleges, to dismiss "suburban moms" and Capitol Hill Republicans, and even to scorn lunch ladies worried about unrealistic mandates."

Monday, December 12, 2016

750000 stolen records of students and families

UT Lawsuit Puts Spotlight on 750,000 Stolen Records of Students and Families


A news bomb about the theft of student data exploded in Utah’s Deseret News last July, but nobody noticed, apparently.
The article’s headline — “Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Puts Spotlight on Utah Autism Rates” — focused primarily on things other than the data theft.  It highlighted former University of Utah research professor Judith Zimmerman’s allegations that university researchers were falsifying Utah’s autism rates.
But to me, the unheadlined bomb that the article dropped was the 750,000 students who had their data and their families’ data stolen by unauthorized “researchers”.  The families now have no way of knowing this happened.
Zimmerman was fired for raising concerns about protected student data that she said the researchers had “compromised and accessed without proper authority.”  She told the Deseret News that unauthorized individuals took  750,000 sensitive records with neither parental nor schools’ consent.  This private “medical and educational information”  included “names, birthdays, information about medical characteristics… special education classification and parents’ names and addresses,”  reported the Deseret News.
How would these families now be notified?  I wonder: with the whistleblower fired and with a years-long lawsuit and likely gag orders pending, the only people who now could potentially contact those families would be still employed at the university –who, being accused of the wrongdoing, certainly won’t go out of their way to inform the affected families right now.
I’m not going to discuss the ways in which the stolen records, and the children they represented, are vulnerable to potential crimes of credit card fraud, health insurance identity theft, crimes of predatory stalkers or the mandates of well-or-ill-intentioned governmental activists.
I’m here to ask –and answer– a very simple question that I hope readers are asking: how could this have happened?  How were three quarters of a million records of children just lying around under the noses of any unscrupulous university researchers?


750000 stolen records of students and families

Monday, October 24, 2016

Does Black Success Matter?

Jewish World Review


By Thomas Sowell
Published August 16, 2016
Does Black Success Matter?

"We have heard a lot about black students failing to meet academic standards. So you might think that it would be front-page news when some whole ghetto schools not only meet, but exceed, the academic standards of schools in more upscale communities."

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Supreme Court to Decide Level of “Benefit” Special Education Must Provide

On September 29th, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review in a case about the level of education benefit a school district must provide to students with disabilities in order to provide student with a free appropriate public education. The case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1 raises an important question that has divided federal appeals courts: What level of educational benefit must a child receive under his or her individualized education program (IEP) to satisfy the demands of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)? 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver, ruled last year in the case of a Colorado child with autism that because the child's public school IEP had provided him with "some educational benefit," the Douglas County district had provided a "free, appropriate public education" under the IDEA. However, the 10th Circuit court panel acknowledged that several other federal courts of appeals have adopted a higher standard that requires an IEP to result in a "meaningful educational benefit," a point that was echoed in the appeal filed by the parents of Endrew F. and the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School. The petition argued that "[t]his court should use this case—which cleanly presents the legal issue on a well-developed set of facts—to resolve the conflict over this important question." 

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court invited the U.S. solicitor general to file a brief expressing the views of the Obama administration. On Aug. 18, Acting Solicitor General Ian H. Gershengorn filed a brief that urged the justices to take up the appeal, stating that the Supreme Court “should grant certiorari and overturn the 10th Circuit's erroneous holding that states must provide children with disabilities educational benefits that are 'merely ... more than de minimis' in order to comply with the IDEA …the 10th Circuit's approach is not consistent with the text, structure, or purpose of the IDEA.” Thus, the Supreme Court has granted review – one of eight cases the justices added to their docket just before the formal start of their new term on October 3rd. The Endrew F. case is likely to be argued sometime early next year.