The Reason Delaware Schools Aren’t Closed Yet

There are two major reasons Delaware schools aren’t closing yet.  Equity and special education.  It all comes down to the digital learning environment school kids will be exposed to.  School districts are worried about potential lawsuits.

For special education, federal IDEA law demands students get accommodations for their disabilities in an educational environment if their disabilities interfere with their ability to succeed academically.  With digital learning from home, how would those accommodations happen?  Disability Scoop covered this topic today in an article.

The Education Department said that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act do not specify what should occur if schools are closed for an extended period of time, which is considered more than 10 consecutive days. However, schools should generally offer the same level of services to students with disabilities that they are providing to other children.

As for equity, what about those families that don’t have wifi or bandwidth, or for that matter, computers, for their children to access digital learning from home.  That is a huge concern.  If they don’t receive instruction how can they even grasp educational material?  What happens when the students return and those who were not able to get the digital learning are woefully behind?

These are the concerns the districts are having.  And while we are in a state of emergency at not just the state level but the whole country, it does open up the possibility of litigation.  But what is more important?  Money or the health and well-being of not just students but every single citizen in the state?  With all the ed-tech personalized learning, how did these get-rich quick companies not prepare for a day like this?  But I digress…

So Governor Carney needs to be the one to make the call according to the districts.  But will he?  Or will he leave it up to the districts?  As the risk and danger to Delaware citizens continues.  Don’t believe what the Secretary of Health in Delaware is saying.  About schools being safer.  They aren’t.  It is just a bigger Petri dish.

Meanwhile, parents are left with a choice- do I send my kid to school or not?  Some districts, like Christina, are telling parents they need a doctor’s note in order to have an absence excused.  So some parents are sending kids in whether they are sick or not cause their kid has too many absences already.  It is a dangerous time folks!

 

U.S. Supreme Court To Decide The Value Of FAPE In Special Education

The  United States Supreme Court will decide the fate of millions of special education students in America when they rule on a controversial case regarding what the appropriate amount of FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) is for students with disabilities.  The landmark case, Endrew F. vs. Douglas County School District, could have major consequences for special education students.

According to Disability Scoop:

The Supreme Court’s decision to take up the matter comes at the urging of the Obama administration. In a brief issued last month, the U.S. solicitor general agreed with the parents that the IDEA requires schools to provide more than minimal benefit to students with disabilities.

“This court should hold that states must provide children with disabilities educational benefits that are meaningful in light of the child’s potential and the IDEA’s stated purposes. Merely aiming for non-trivial progress is not sufficient,” the solicitor general indicated.

This could be a moment of triumph or severe disappointment.  With the rise of Common Core and a transition from teacher-led instruction to constant bombardment of education technology and a competency-based education environment, students with disabilities have suffered the most from the constant education reform that has taken place over the past twenty plus years.  As their numbers rise, so do the corporate profits.  They have been forced to take a litany of state assessments that have the same results, year after year: these students tend to perform the worst on these tests.  The amount of parents choosing to go the home school route for their special needs children has risen dramatically in the last decade.

A free appropriate public education, in its current landscape, comes with a very steep price for students with disabilities.  Unless the Supreme Court clearly defines what FAPE should be, in the face of the overwhelming corporate-driven changes in our schools, these children will continue to be lost in public education.  Personalized learning, in the modern-day era meaning, would gear all students towards their own individual education plans which strips the special out of special education.  This flies in the face of what disability advocates fight for every single day.

US Senator Wants to Improve Special Education for Parents and Increase IDEA Funding #netde #eduDE @DEStateBoardEd

United States Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa, wants to improve IDEA and make it better for parents.  In a recent article on Disability Scoop, Harkness stated he has introduced legislation that will allow parents to recoup their fees for expert witnesses in a due process hearing if they prevail.

In 2006, the US Supreme Court ruled parents can get their attorney feeds paid by the school district if they win, but they were still on the hook for the expert witnesses.  These witnesses could include doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, or neurologists.  All of which charge hourly for witness testimony at more than their typical hourly rate.

According to the Disability Scoop article:

“Without access to expert witnesses, families may be unable to make an argument for the educational needs of their children,” Harkin said. “This legislation is an essential step for protecting the rights of students with disabilities and ensuring that all families, regardless of their financial resources, can advocate for and protect their children’s rights through due process, consistent with congressional intent.”

As well, Senator Harkin has introduced other legislation which would allow for IDEA to gradually increase their funding until they reach the 40% funding cap they originally agreed to almost 40 years ago.  This would give more desperately needed special education funding to schools.  The plan would allow for the full funding to be reached by 2023.  The funding for this, according to the legislation, would come from tax increases for those earning more than $1 million a year.

For more information, please read the article at http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/09/12/senator-burden-idea-disputes/19667/