No Testing Means No Problems, Right? So Says Trump and Mark Weber

The first tweet on this page is from Mark Weber, acolyte of teacher union leaders and affiliated groups like Education Law Center, NJ Policy Perspective, and Diane Ravitchy-types. Weber and his crew are opposed to standardized testing because it makes schools look bad. (See here for my take.) Doesn’t matter the vendor — could be the “gold star” NAEP tests or the despised PARCC tests — because having accurate measurements of student proficiency is less …

Surely We Can Do Better Than DeVos When It Comes to Opening Schools

Sunday morning Education Secretary Betsy DeVos went on CNN and Fox to tout her belief that all American schools must open for full-time in-person learning in September. Afterwards she was excoriated for both her ignorance and her cavalier attitude towards potential outbreaks among students, teachers, and staff.   It’s so easy to beat up on DeVos. (Heck, I do it all the time.)  But right now I’m thinking that DeVos and her boss’s idiocy are a …

Betsy DeVos Leaves Low-Income Students Behind: Example, Lakewood

In 1997 Michael Kinsley wrote, “the scandal isn’t the illegal behavior–the scandal is what’s legal.” He was referring to allegations about fund-raising corruption in the Clinton Administration but he might have been writing about Lakewood Public Schools, at least under the federal oversight of Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos. Why? (And why do I write about Lakewood so much?) Because this Ocean County district is an emblem of how inequity permeates New Jersey’s educational infrastructure …

NJ School Districts Best Not Mess with Special Ed Parents

When news leaked that 30 New Jersey districts were demanding that parents sign waivers before their kids could get access to special education services during pandemic school closures, the proverbial shit hit the fan. And rightly so. Special education parents know that certain services listed in Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s) can’t be delivered remotely and certain therapies can’t be replicated in the home environment. Here’s what we do know: IEP’s are legal contracts and, while …

Disability Advocates Fear Betsy DeVos Will Roll Back Students’ Educational Rights

In January 2017, during Betsy DeVos’s Senate confirmation hearing for her nomination by Donald Trump as U.S. Education Secretary, Senator Tim Kaine asked her a question about the rights of students with disabilities. She replied, “I think that is a matter that is best left to the states.” When Senator Maggie Hassan, who has a son with cerebral palsy, asked DeVos directly whether she understood that the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) is federal law …

Remote Education Shines a Light on the Inequities Special Needs Students Already Face in Schools

Ten-year-old Gavin Williams is a lively and affectionate youngster who loves to visit museums, experiment with computer-coding and plunge into ocean waves with his boogie-board.  Gavin is also a fifth-grade student with disabilities who, his mother Sarah told me, has been effectively abandoned by his New Jersey district during COVID-19 school closures. While the quality of remote instruction offered by schools throughout the country varies from desultory to ambitious—an ongoing survey by the Center for Reinventing …

Facing “Unprecedented Uncertainty,” Governors Ask DeVos For Promised Emergency Education Aid

On March 27th, two weeks ago last Friday, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act), a $2 trillion stimulus package intended to help industries getting slammed by COVID-19. Part of the money —$30 billion—is subtitled the “Education Stabilization Fund” (ESF) and earmarked for K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. Of that $30 billion, $13.5 billion will be distributed to states and territories, which will then parcel it out to …

Schools Must Stop Using Students With Disabilities as An Excuse to Do Nothing

My husband and I have four children. Our three oldest are what we in the special needs community call “neuro-typical” and our youngest has multiple disabilities. Let’s pretend that they are all school-age—our whole family thrust into COVID-19 school-closure chaos—and we are informed that because our district can’t comply fully with our disabled child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), our three other kids will have no support or instruction from their teachers for weeks or months. …

All the Things Max Eden Gets Wrong About Students With Disabilities and IDEA.

We barely survived my son Jonah’s adolescence. One evening in Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station he pushed me so hard I fell to the ground and a woman leaned over and whispered in my ear, “that child has the devil in him.” When my husband took our four kids to a minor league baseball game, Jonah started stomping and yelling so angrily that park officials called security. One day in upstate New York where we rent …

NJ DOE Watch: Disruption and Damage Within the Division of Student Services (with One Bright Spot)

Newsflash: insiders tell me that there has been no improvement within New Jersey’s floundering Department of Education. In an accidental metaphor, the pages of the DOE website that are supposed to list of bios of executives and descriptions of DOE offices continue to say “Under Construction.” After listening to and reading reports from brave professionals distraught over deterioration, a more apt description would be “Under Decay.” And, from what I can tell, the problems are …