I just read Stephen Lipscomb’s new report (January 2009), “Students with Disabilities and California’s Special Education Program,” found it very useful, and wanted to share it with you. Research support was provided by Karina Jaquet.

The report discusses both programming and funding for special education in California. One thing I really like about it is that the report clearly separates out the (a) costs for special education from the (b) costs of educating students with disabilities–as the second of these includes the regular education services that most students with IEPs receive. This report clarified my confusion on the matter.

You can download it at the Public Policy Institute of California website:

Happy reading!

Friends and colleagues–

I thought you’d like to know that my little books of laws–

Grades, Report Cards, Etc…and the Law, and

IEP and Section 504 Team Meetings… and the Law

are now also available through the Legal Digest. Check it out! www.legaldigest.com.

You might find other books and products of interest to you. Of course, you can also buy them directly through School Law Pro. www.schoollawpro.com

Great news! Hot off the press!

Miriam’s advice (along with 23 other experts) to President Obama is included in Education Week’s new book, The OBAMA Education Plan: An Education Week Guide. Published by Jossey-Bass, http://www.josseybass.com/. More information can be obtained also at http://www.edweek.org/ and http://www.epe.org/.

She’s among quite a heady crowd, as experts include our new Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, Wendy Kopp, Phillip Howard, Mike Feinberg, Rick Hanushek, Andrew Rotherham, and others. But it looks like her voice is the only one calling for the reform of special education:

Our special ed law started in the [1970’s] because back then, many students with disabilities, about a million of them, were excluded from school. The issue then was access to programming for all children. The law provided new funding, new direction, and due process rights for parents. It was a new day. [As a result, all students with disabilities were provided special education services.]

Now, many of us–educators, administrators, taxpayers, parents–have come to the unsettling realization that the system strugges and is unsustainable. Burdensome requirements take teachers and students away from the mission: teaching and learning. We spend some [110] billion dollars on special ed, yet the budgetary system has not kept up with the times because special ed costs, protected by federal law, often impact other school programs and reforms.

I would tell the President that, as sad as it is, even though we met the access challenges ofthe ’70’s, this law has not changed. And I think some courage to step up to the plate is what’s needed.

Philip K. Howard’s provocative new book is thought-provoking and excellent. Life without Lawyers: Liberating Americans from Too Much Law. www.lifewithoutlawyers.com.

For those of us interested in reforming education–and specifically, special education, it has great insight. Imagine my delight to see among Mr. Howard’s references my little book of law about grades and report cards! Grades, Report Cards, Etc…. and the Law. Available at www.schoollawpro.com.

Mr. Howard has started a national movement, Common Good, and a national conversation, New Talk–to end our reliance on laws and lawsuits as the means for conducting our lives. For more information, see www.commongood.org and http://newtalk.org.

But back to report cards, those papers we all know and have grown up with for generations–as children, teachers, parents. Mr.Howard on to something when he includes this little book of laws in his analysis: We know we have an issue when teachers need to worry about lawsuits when they grade students’ work in their classrooms. But there it is.