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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

I Could Deal with Holland But I Got Caracas: A Special Needs Mom’s Story

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 and here. Welcome to Caracas. When my first child was diagnosed with a life-changing disability, I was devastated. And some advice I got — which I hated at the time but had come to appreciate — was to view this parenting journey as a diversion from Italy to Holland,  per …

Rouhanifard Resigns: What’s Next for Camden City Public Schools?

Today Camden Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard announced his resignation. I’ve followed the trajectory of Camden Public Schools since I started this blog ten years ago and I’m sad about the loss of this gifted leader who relentlessly prioritizes the needs of schoolchildren above institutional stagnation. But I’m also confident that Camden’s rise in academic achievement will continue because Rouhanifard’s reforms are deeply entrenched throughout the city. For families who see the difference five years makes, there’s …