And again, as far too often in our public education system, it’s all about that pendulum swing—from one extreme to another.

Hopefully, the Supreme Court’s Endrew F v. Douglas County decision yesterday will bring us back to center. The case is about how much benefit or progress a school needs to provide to a child with a disability.

The Supreme Court overturned the 10th circuit decision that required too little—a program that is “merely more than de minimis.” Now, the Court requires a program that is “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress in light of the child’s circumstances.” As I read it, the progress requirement is reasonable—not ideal, not maximizing and not merely more than de minimis. In the center. Where it should be.

Let’s hope the pendulum stays centered so we can all get back to teaching and learning, not litigating and continued disputes. My new book, Special Education 2.0—Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law, should help us get that discussion going.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/high-court-ruling-on-disabled-students-tied-to-trump-nominee-1490206461#livefyre-toggle-SB11947127629032933928704583038770043163186″

My new book, Special Education 2.0–Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law is still #1 in NEW Releases in Disability Law and # 4 in Sales!

I hope you’ll take a look at it, especially as it is now available as a paperback and on Kindle. Amazon carries both! If you’re looking for bulk orders–to get that long overdue conversation going–please check out the discounts on this website. In fact, if you order more than 35 copies, shipping is FREE.

Again, I am grateful for your support and interest in exploring better education for ALL students. I am working to make a difference in how we educate ALL students, including students with disabilities.

Special Education 2.0–Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law– is # 1 in HOT NEW RELEASES in Disability Law on Amazon… and # 6 in sales today.

Thank you all for your continued support.

Now, I’d also appreciate your writing a review. So far, there is one excellent review. It would be awesome to have more.

In gratitude, Miriam

I just came back from a successful speaking engagement at the AASA (American Association of School Administrators) Conference in New Orleans.

My conclusion? I think the times they are achanging… One administrator wrote to me, “I do think we are moving to a new level of discussion around special education.”

I agree.

My talk, Building a NEW general and special education system for ALL students, was visionary and thought provoking, yet also practical and fun. It challenged school leaders— general and special educators—to think anew to build programs that work for all students. And while I thought perhaps the audience would be outraged (how dare we touch the current system) and proverbially throw tomatoes, that did NOT happen. People were engaged. Interested. Excited even, I would say. We spoke about:

• What if we designed schools that are truly focused on equitable and effective/excellent teaching and learning for all students? What steps toward that end can we take tomorrow?

• What if we focus on big what ifs…not little tweaks of the current system… by challenging both general and special educators to dream big?

Well, it turns out that the times are achanging and we can begin to consider new approaches. Out of the box. Courageous. How about generation two– Special Education 2.0.

Your thoughts?

I attended the AASA (American Association of School Administrators) Conference in New Orleans this week. Alas, it was right after Mardi Gras! Fun city! That the annual conference of superintendents of schools. I believe there were about 2000 attendees.
Why was I invited? After all, I’m a lawyer, not a superintendent. I was invited to speak about my new book, Special Education 2.0—Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law. My session went well (more on that later).

This blog is about something else. It’s about the calls—heard from the main stage— that we need to “defend public education.” Why? “Public education is under attack.”

As I listened to this call–repeated by speakers — I was uncomfortable and question this approach. I wonder if we shouldn’t go more positive. I love public education and want it to succeed. But, I’m not into taking a defensive position.

Instead, as I see it, we need to tell a positive story. How about a different slogan: “Public education is better!” How so? For starters. It’s owned by the community. It builds democracy. It gives children the opportunity to learn with all of their peers in their generation. With improved personalized and proficiency based education, it fosters excellence and equity. For many, it cherishes the community and promotes schooling close to home. For example, students with disabilities who are learning activities of daily living (ADL) skills, can practice near home—on local streets, in local stores, with their neighbors. Students can participate in town sports and other activities. Public education is the backbone of our nation. Let’s tout that reality!

Thus, I was happy to hear the welcoming remarks by Gail Pletnick, the new President of AASA. She seems to agree that we need to go positive.. Please visit http://nce.aasa.org/incoming-aasa-president/. She is the superintendent of the Dystert Unified School District in Arizona. Her 15 minute talk led with a positive, success-oriented message. She showed a wonderful video of successful learning going on in her district. I loved that.

She believes that the positive stories of successes in public schools—need to be told. “Investing in public education is investing in our communities and our country.”
I agree and wish her, and our country, much success.

I just read the New York Times piece, “Have we Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Education.”

AND, it made me realize that it’s time to bring out my piece years ago, “One Radical Idea to Fix Public Schools.” It appeared in many TABs in the Boston area and again in Education News in 2011.

How so? First, the Times piece that has garnered much response, been picked up by Diane Ravitch’s Blog—and here!
The piece argues that the Betsy Devos confirmation and push for vouchers and what’s called “privatization” underscores an erosion of public education. It asserts, “We began moving away from the “public” in public education a long time ago.” The article then traces the history of this trend—starting with the 1960’s desegregation orders—to today’s push for charters, vouchers for private or public schools, and parental choice. It concludes with this, “Democracy works only if those who have the money or the power to opt out of public things choose instead to opt in for the common good.”

Alas, that’s not happening. Now to my piece, “One Radical Idea to Fix Pubic Schools.” My idea was that the only way to “fix” public schools is to close all private schools. Imagine that. In that way, everyone would care because it would be all about OUR children—not just other people’s children. Policies for the good of all children—not separated out by various interest groups— will return to public schools. The piece predicted that within a year, “our schools would be fixed—kids would learn, discipline would be in place, teachers would have time to teach, and the sun would shine upon all of us.”

Check it out! It’s as timely as ever. Let me know what you think.

I am thrilled to report that the book is now for sale.  It was published yesterday and is already on Amazon.  I just ordered my very own copy which should arrive by Saturday.

Please visit Amazon.com, buy the book, Special Education 2.0–Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law.

If you like what you see, please write a review at Amazon.  That will help us get on the path of systemic reform for all students.

Dear readers, friends and colleagues,

 I’m very excited to let you know that…. my newest book, Special Education 2.0—Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law, will be published on February 22.

Stay tuned for more information. The book will be available on Amazon (including Kindle), ed311.com,  and on my website, schoollawpro.com.

Thanks for your continuing interest and support for reforming education–especially special education.

 

Here’s the book’s front cover!

58309253_High Resolution Front Cover.6502075

….and back cover!

 58309253_High Resolution Back Cover.6502075

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing!  Recently, special education has been on the front pages…. given Betsy DeVos confusion about the IDEA– the special education law, http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2017/01/betsy_devos_faces_sharp_questi.html

Timing is everything!  Now, it’s time for my book — a call for a national conversation for a major fix of our broken special education system!

My new book, Special Education 2.0–Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law  will be published on February 22, 2017.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All means all

I read with great interest (and some concern) the February 4, 2017 The New York Times op-ed by Maggie Hassan, a Democratic senator from New Hampshire, explaining why she won’t vote for Betsy DeVos.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/03/opinion/why-i-wont-vote-for-betsy-devos.html

The op-ed starts off well, echoing deep beliefs I share—that public schools are vital for our nation; a necessary foundation for our democracy; a reverence for schools should be held by public officials.

Focusing on these key basics may raise valid issues about this nominee, who has championed parental choice, often through charters and vouchers, though I haven’t analyzed her beyond the fury coming at her, much from teachers unions, and don’t comment here on that.

About charters and vouchers—they are not the answer because they can’t be scaled fast enough–ever. After almost a quarter of a century in our country (since the early 1990’s), charter schools educate about 3% of US students. A drop in the bucket.  In comparison, special ed educates 13-14% of students. If, as some critics charge, the push for vouchers is simply to enrich private companies, that’s way too cynical for me and I don’t deal with that here.

Now back to Ms. Hassan, who veers off from her opening to highlight her son’s excellent special education public school services, why she wants them to continue, and her belief that they won’t with this nominee.  The pull quote highlights, “My son flourished in the public school system. Trump’s pick will ruin it.”

I am troubled by the use of the word “all” or “every” in this op-ed. Ms. Hassan (and many special education advocates) talks about “all students,” as in having public schools “serving all students…”  Thus she writes, “Ensuring access to public education for every student is an issue that is personal in my family,” and then she writes about her adult son…

As someone devoted to public education and working to reform it, I find this use of little words “all” or “every” troubling. For me, “all” students means focusing on all students–from the most gifted to the most needy and all in between.  That’s what public schools are supposed to be about and that’s why many need to be better than they are.

Instead, here the words “all” or “every” seem to mean that all students with disabilities have the same access to education as all others do.  While not questioning that,  I am troubled by the focus.When I read about people wanting public schools to work well and focusing on how well they work for students with disabilities–I am glad for them, of course–but it seems that the tail is wagging the dog.  The focus on special education students leads us astray and may even inadvertently bolster the push for parental choice, vouchers and charters–for people to leave public schools that are NOT focusing on all students. It’s a vicious circle.

Schools should serve all students with commitment, funds, time, and passion.  A vote for a Secretary of Education should be a vote for all students, as I use that term.