As A White, Privileged, Mom of a Child with Disabilities, I Want To Scream and Cry and Throw Things.

This post is by Liz Winslow, a school choice warrior and mom of three children, two of whom have special needs. Her work has previously appeared on NJLB here,  here. and here. Her post that describes Aaron’s issues is here. I want to share a few thoughts on this New Yorker piece on Georgia’s “separate and unequal special education system,” beyond the fact that I wanted to scream and cry and throw things when I read it. First, this quote …

Hannukah Gelt or Coal in Your Stocking? Checking in on Lakewood.

Stacey Barchenger of the Asbury Park Press is indefatigable in her investigations into the shenanigans in Lakewood Public Schools. Example: last week she reported that the district, which operates as a funding stream for 130+ private religious ultra-Orthodox Jewish day schools, used $1.6 million in federal money intended for secular material to buy religious textbooks. This is a violation of New Jersey state law and federal law. Welcome to Lakewood. From the APP story: The …

Not Backpacks Full of Cash But Backpacks Full of Rights: NCSECS Takes On Special Education Equity in Charter Schools.

It’s a common complaint among those who look down their collective nose at public charter schools: they don’t serve their fair share of students with disabilities, or at least those with moderate to severe disabilities, and they counsel out kids who can’t deal with academic rigor, either back to their sending districts or to private placements at district expense. Let’s pay our respects to Mark Twain who said, “all generalizations are false, including this one.” …

New Jersey Has One of the Lowest Rates of Inclusion of Special Education Students in America. A New Report Explains What We’re Doing Wrong.

A new report called “An Advocate’s Guide to Transforming Special Education” by the nonprofit group Innovate Public Schools (IPS) doesn’t mince words: students with disabilities are segregated into classrooms with low expectations, “regardless of how moderate their disability may be.” Families and advocates are often “dismissed and ignored.”Special needs children, especially those of color, are systematically relegated to lower tracks, regardless of cognitive potential, all in violation of the basic tenet of federal law that children …

During KIPP’s “Summer Jump,” Kids with Disabilities Learn With Typical Kids. How Does This Work?

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicolina Abruzzese, Assistant Principal of Special Education at KIPP Bold Academy, a charter middle school in Newark that is part of the KIPP New Jersey charter school network. This is Nicolina’s fourth year with KIPPNJ and tenth year in education. She has worked as a Special Education coordinator, department chair and coach of special education teachers and  paraprofessionals, co-chair of the Child Study Team, and as a special education teacher in her …

My Take on the Trump Administration’s Disregard for Students with Disabilities

My friends and colleagues at Education Post, Lane Wright and Ikhlas Saleem, asked me to join them on their Voices4ED podcast to talk about the Trump Administration’s stripping away of civil rights protections for students with special needs under the direction of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. To listen, click here. Episode Details: Why Laura’s recent article about Betsy DeVos resonated with so many people Why people were outraged with Betsy DeVos On the federal government’s role in regulating education The …

Inzelbuch asks, Where Is the Oversight in Lakewood? He Needs To Widen His Lens.

Michael Inzelbuch, Lakewood Public Schools’ Board Attorney, is in a lather, according to the Asbury Park Press. “The process seems to have broken down,” he frothed at the most recent school board meeting. “There’s no uniformity here. It’s a free-for-all. Where is the oversight?” Is he talking the district’s practice of sending ultra-Orthodox children with disabilities to yeshivas that don’t meet the state’s definition of a “school”? Is he talking about the misuse of $22 …

DeVos Is Stripping Away Civil Rights Protections for Students With Special Needs

I’m detecting a trend. Recently, The Atlantic ran a piece that catalogues the Trump administration’s disregard of civil rights protections for Americans (and aspiring Americans) during the tenure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Across every issue, from criminal-justice reform to voting rights to LGBTQ rights,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, “the attorney general is advancing a vision of America that is narrow, and abdicating some of the Justice Department’s …

Lakewood Update: HOW much Per Student?

Tonight the Lakewood Board of Education has a public meeting. Board agendas are typically unrevealing — you get to see the action items to be voted on but not the public comments, discussions, or presentations — but Lakewood, as always, is the exception to the rule. So, let’s have a look-see. First, the boilerplate language stipulating that the district is solvent is stated this way: Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-16.10, I, Kevin Campbell Interim Business Administrator/ …

Does the State Have the Courage To Take Over Lakewood Public Schools?

Jonathan Shutman,Ed.D., is a retired school principal and administrator who has worked in the Marlboro, North Brunswick, and Montclair public school districts. He is presently a part-time support ESL and math teacher for CNA and LPN students at the Monmouth County Vocational School District. He is the author of  “Disability Abuse in Educational Settings.” The recent news reported by Stacey Barchenger, “Lakewood School Board Lawyer’s $600,000 Contract Breaks Rules” reports the additional $29,000 in family health …