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 …

Is Betsy DeVos on the Verge of Removing Civil Rights Protections for Students of Color?

(A different version of this piece appeared earlier this month at Education Post.) Let’s just call her Betsy DeVoid. Our secretary of education earns a name-change because of her predilection for voiding laws that protect our most disenfranchised students. First it was rescissions to the civil rights regulations that protect students with disabilities. Now it’s the 2014 Obama administration’s school discipline guidance, also based on civil rights law, that requires districts to address the wide …

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.” …