On December 18, the Trump Administration’s Federal Commission on School Safety released its recommendation to remove 2014 guidance issued by the Education Department and the Department of Justice to eliminate disparities in school discipline. This guidance came about after a comprehensive review and study and talking extensively to all stakeholders seeking to interrupt the disgraceful and disproportionate suspension of students of color and disabled students from school.
For more information on Breaking the School To Prison Pipeline, read the report DREDF authored for the National Council on Disability.
The guidance the Administration seeks to withdraw created minimum standards and basic protections for children with disabilities and other at-risk students from discriminatory practices that feed the school-to-prison pipeline. Withdrawl not only harms students, but also families, communities, and our nation. Data shows, and DREDF sees firsthand, that often students of color, foster kids and children with disabilities—many students fit into all of these categories—are subjected to the most punitive and exclusionary discipline. The administration’s regressive recommendations would reverse hard fought improvements to correct these established, irrefutable disparities.
Despite past pledges to shrink or eliminate the U.S. Department of Education, the spending bill that President Donald Trump signed into law provides a small boost to the department’s budget for this fiscal year.
The increase of $581 million for fiscal 2019 brings the Education Department budget to roughly $71.5 billion. It’s the second year in a row Trump has agreed to boost federal education spending—last March, Trump approved spending levels that increased the budget by $2.6 billion for fiscal 2018.
The spending deal for fiscal 2019, signed late last month, includes relatively small increases for Title I (the main federal education program for disadvantaged students), special education, charter schools, career and technical education, and other programs. Although fiscal 2019 began on Oct. 1, the agreement mostly impacts the 2019-20 school year.
In addition to Education Department programs, funding for Head Start—which is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services—now stands at $10.1 billion, a $240 million increase from fiscal 2018. And Preschool Development Grants, also run by HHS, are level-funded at $250 million.
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Do you worry about being able to hire VI teachers? Do you have to search high and low to fill vacancies? If so…
It’s the time of the year to recruit teachers of the visually impaired! To address the shortage of VI teachers and the needs of a growing number of students with visual impairments, think about the opportunity to “Grow Your Own VI Teacher” . The Texas Tech University on-line program is a great opportunity for teachers to get certification as a teacher of the visually impaired. Funds are available through the Reach Across Texas Grant to assist with the cost of tuition. The Texas Tech application deadline for Spring 2019 is November 1, 2018. Once one university VI course is completed and the teacher is enrolled in another course, he/she is eligible to be the TVI of record with an emergency permit! For information, see VI and O&M Preparation in Texas on the TSBVI website.
Last spring’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District reaffirmed the importance of providing, in the words of Chief Justice John Roberts, an “appropriately ambitious” education for the nation’s 6.7 million children with disabilities. The court ruled that in order for school districts to meet their obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, they must offer students with disabilities an individualized education plan that enables them to make progress and be adequately challenged to meet their full potential.
The court described this standard in its ruling as a “fact intensive exercise.” From our vantage, that fact-intensive exercise must include processes to ensure that schools actually provide the mandates that appear in each student’s IEP.
In recent years, there have been substantial structural improvements to existing special education practices. Schools now typically place greater emphasis on educating students with disabilities in general education classes and have adopted stringent guidelines to ensure that students with disabilities have access to the general education curriculum.
Despite these improvements, the U.S. Department of Education determined in July that fewer than half of the states are meeting their obligations under IDEA. Most of those states failing to follow educational guidelines have done so for at least two years…
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The day Ayden came home from school with bruises, his mother started looking for a new school.
Ayden’s a bright 9-year-old with a blond crew cut, glasses and an eager smile showing new teeth coming in. He also has autism, ADHD and a seizure disorder. (We’re not using his last name to protect his privacy.) He loves karate, chapter books and very soft blankets: “I love the fuzziness, I just cocoon myself into my own burrito.”
“He’s so smart but lacks so much socially,” says his mother, Lynn.
She says Ayden was suspended repeatedly from his school in St. Lucie County, Fla., starting in first grade, for outbursts like throwing a chair. And during “meltdowns,” he was physically restrained by being held in a bear hug from behind or penned in with gym-style mats for up to 45 minutes.
“Not just sometimes, it was every single day!” Ayden says. “That kind of stress gets me all worked up and it makes my tics go crazy!”
One day, Lynn says, Ayden came home with marks all over his body from being restrained. “That was my final straw.” She started looking for another school.