For Parents Advocating For a Child with Disabilities, Here’s the Golden Rule: If You Don’t Ask for It, You Won’t Get It!

I have a new piece out in New Jersey Family Magazine on advocating for your child with special needs. It starts here: My husband and I welcomed our son into the world with the calm conviction of experienced parents. Jonah was our fourth child, and we were pros at child rearing, fluent in the language of raising kids. Feeding schedule? Check. Separation anxiety? Check. Toilet training? Check. Education? Check. But Jonah isn’t typical. When he …

Improving Special Education is a Priority for Newark Charters

Mark Rynone is Executive Director of the NJ Special Education Collaborative. Since its inception in 2013, the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools has provided support to charter schools in Newark. The focus of our work has been to improve the capacity of charter schools across the city to ensure that they are equipped to provide high quality supports and services to students with a wide range of learning differences. In 2016, we …

Five Ways That New Jersey’s Education System Is Being Undermined

Sue me. I was an English major. When I think about the state of the Murphy Administration’s Department of Education, a host of literary allusions sweeps over me: Faust selling his soul to Mephistopheles in exchange for power; Dionysus gifting Midas with the golden touch, thus cursing him with starvation; Macbeth’s moral compass eclipsed by blind ambition. Okay.  I’m being melodramatic. Yet let us look at five ways in which the Governor’s tendency to pander …

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 …