Saturday, March 25, 2017

Supreme Court Ruling On Special Ed Contradicts Gorsuch; DeVos Education Department Lacks Key Posts : NPR Ed : NPR

Supreme Court Ruling On Special Ed Contradicts Gorsuch; DeVos Education Department Lacks Key Posts : NPR Ed : NPR:

This Week In Education: Supreme Court Rules On Special Ed; Senator Slams Vouchers

No rest for the weary in our weekly roundup of national education news.
Supreme Court rules on special education case
"I'm thrilled," said Amanda Morin, a parent and advocate with the web site, after the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in a case that could affect 6.5 million special education students. "Now I can actually go into a school system and say 'The Supreme Court has said, based on my child's abilities, he is legally entitled to make progress.'"
In Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, a Colorado family asked the district to pay for their son's private school tuition. They felt Endrew, who has autism and ADHD, wasn't making sufficient progress in his public school.
Federal law guarantees a "Free Appropriate Public Education" for all students with disabilities. In writing the court's opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts held that schools must meet a more demanding standard than "merely more than de minimis" and that a child's education plan must be "appropriately ambitious."
But the court stopped short of offering a simple formula. "We will not attempt to elaborate on what 'appropriate' progress will look like from case to case," reads the opinion, saying it depends on "the unique circumstances of the child."

Advocates for children with disabilities hailed the ruling.
"Today is a good day for children with disabilities," Mimi Corcoran, president and CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, said in a statement. "The Court ... soundly rejected the belief that just some small benefit is enough."
"The Supreme Court's decision today acknowledges what we all know: that virtually all students with disabilities can be educated in regular classrooms and can meet the same high expectations we have for students without disabilities," Ira Burnim, legal director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, said in a statement.
While commending the decision, some public school advocates made a subtly different point, that "appropriately ambitious" is already the norm in many schools.
Nancy Reder, deputy executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, told NPR Ed, "A higher standard is already playing out throughout the country."
And Julie Wright Halbert, legislative counsel for the Council of the Great City Schools, said, "I think this really reflects what we currently are already doing."
If that's true, this ruling may not lead to big changes after all. Time will tell.
DeVos makes case for less activist Department of Education
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke to two big groups of state education leaders this week, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Association of State Boards of Education.
Just days after President Trump unveiled his budget blueprint, which calls for a 13.5 percent cut in the department, DeVos stressed her desire to give state and local education leaders more freedom.
"Too often, the Department of Education has gone outside of its established authority and created roadblocks – wittingly or unwittingly – for parents and educators alike," she told the Council of Chief State School Officers. "This isn't right, nor is it acceptable. Under this administration, we will break this habit."
Speaking of roadblocks, states have an initial deadline to submit their school accountability plans to the department next month. But Congress recently threw out the regulations that spelled out exactly how they are supposed to conform with federal law. And as Education Week reported recently, DeVos's department is notably understaffed, lacking a deputy and assistant secretaries.
Former for-profit college lobbyist steps down
One more Ed Department post opened up when Taylor Hansen, a former registered lobbyist for the major for-profit college trade association, made an exit after just one Supreme Court Ruling On Special Ed Contradicts Gorsuch; DeVos Education Department Lacks Key Posts : NPR Ed : NPR:

Students Serve Up Stories Of Beloved Family Recipes In A Global Cookbook
Many students at D.C.'s Capital City Charter School are first-generation Americans. For a creative writing project, a literacy nonprofit picked a topic everyone could relate to: food from home. (Image credit: Becky Harlan)

A High School's Lesson For Helping English Language Learners Get To College
Fort Wayne, Ind., is home to one of the largest Burmese refugee populations in the U.S. One public high school there is helping them meet high expectations. (Image credit: LA Johnson/NPR)

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