Friday, February 3, 2017

Pick for U.S. education secretary rankles autism community | Spectrum

Pick for U.S. education secretary rankles autism community | Spectrum:

Pick for U.S. education secretary rankles autism community

Image result for devos Neurocore
Autism researchers and advocates alike are sounding the alarm as President Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. secretary of education — billionaire Betsy DeVos — heads to the Senate floor for confirmation. DeVos, they say, is unqualified and unfamiliar with the policies that most affect the rights and education of children with autism.
Yesterday morning, the Senate education committee voted 12-11 along party lines to advance DeVos’ nomination to a vote by the full Senate. The date for that vote has not yet been set, but it could happen as early as this week.
“We are in deep, deep trouble as an autism community in the next four years,” says Matthew Siegel, faculty scientist at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute. “It’s going to be a wild ride.”
Siegel and others point to DeVos’ advocacy for private and charter schools which, unlike public schools, have no federal obligation to provide services for children with autism or other conditions. And in mid-January, she stumbled on questions from the Senate education committee about the law that grants children with disabilities the right to education in a public school.
“I think she’s a terrible choice for all children in public schools, and children with autism especially,” says David Mandell, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania. “She’s made it clear that she wants to divert money away from traditional public schools — the schools in which 85 percent of American children, and a higher percent of children with disabilities, receive their education.”
DeVos has also come under scrutiny because she and her husband are major investors in Neurocore, a Michigan-based company that offers a controversial treatment for people with autism.
“We have a lot of evidence-based treatments that actually do help children with autism,” says Fred Volkmar, director of the Yale Child Study Center. Her awareness of autism treatments is limited to one that “has not yet been shown to be effective,” he says.

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DeVos has a troubling track record on schools and education policy. In Michigan, she advocated to divert state funds away from public to private and Pick for U.S. education secretary rankles autism community | Spectrum:
Image result for big education ape devos Neurocore