Special Education Today Newsletter 1(11)

The recaps of the week's news and info for 29 August 2021

Dear SETters,

Here, on Sunday night, the 115th anniversary of the birth of my maternal grandmother, Cora Bell Wills Hannah, I provide the 11th issue of the first year of the newsletter for Special Education Today. Both of my grandmothers where pretty special to me—no surprise—and Mrs. Hannah was quite something. I'll return to her at the end of this newsletter.

As you might expect, this issue of the newsletter has a mixture of contents. I report about the status of the newsletter and site. Also, as usual, there's a retrospective table of contents listing the posts for the previous week. Last, if I have the patience, I'll add a little commentary at the end. Now, about this cat who’s butting and rubbing (marking?) my hands as I type…sheesh, Lucinda Lou, gimme a break!

Status update

This week there is modestly positive growth in free-email registrants for the list. We lost a couple, but we gained a few more over the past seven days! Yay, and welcome aboard you new registrants!

We are still ahead of the curve with email subscribers who open the newsletters. SETters are well beyond the open-rates that are apparently considered pretty good, so the nearly 50% of y'all who open these messages seem to be pretty engaged with the email messages.

Of course, I hope that 50% will be a percentage of a huge number of people—50% of 100 is nice; 50% of 1000 is better; 50% of thousands is what I hope is the population of readers for these efforts. Please (a) spread the word or (b) tell me how to make the newsletter and Web site more valuable to teachers, parents, administrators, psychologists, and others concerned with students who have disabilities.

A special thanks: Some readers seem to be haunting the Web site. Soon after I post a new article during the week, I see that two or three people have read it. That's before it even appears in the newsletter. I am flattered that folks are checking the site that often. Thank you!

Another metric that I've mentioned in the past is the interactions both on the site and over other social media. Many pals interacted with the magazine recently. Flash of the electrons (aka., “shout outs”) to the usual loyal readers: Jane B., Tina C., Michael K. (2!), and anyone whom I missed.

No one (except I, though my records could be in error) commented on a post this week. My hope is to engender conversation, so please drops comments!

I think, if memory serves, Tina and Michael added a bump on Twitter this past week...thanks! Although I’m not subscribed to Facebook, I’m happy to have people pass along a link to this post on that medium (and LinkedIn, etc.), too.

I'm still looking for feedback about using a feature of SubStack that allows me to post an open thread for discussion. Given how few folks engage in discussion, doing so may be a bust. If you have thoughts about this idea, please send them to me.

So, do you think I should write more posts? Send email notices more (or less) frequently. Pose as a writer who posts, say, more controversial stuff? Lemme know, please!

The Laggin’ ToC (i.e., posts from this past week)

As previously, I dropped a “few” (why be vague: 3) new posts on the Web site this week. I hope readers have found them informative. They include a new recurring feature that I hope will put a little flesh on the people who write products that informed special educators (i.e, SETters) read. Here are the week's posts, from oldest to newest. You can read them by following these links or going to the main site and working through them: https://www.specialeducationtoday.com or the individual links for each one.

Commentary

So, I'm substantially concerned about the effects of SARS-CoV-2 and, especially, school closures on our kids' performance. It is a topic about which I find it difficult to find good data. To be sure, I've read pediatricians' advocacy about attending to the topic (e.g, Masonbrink & Hurley, 2020), a Kaiser Family Foundation survey or parents’ concerns about lost ground for thier children, considered the considerable problems of food insecurity for individuals with disabilites during covid (Gunderson et al., 2020); reviewed suggestions that the pandemic provides opportunities to employ author's favored practices (e.g., Smith, 2021), listened to podcasts about perceived problems with education in general (e.g., "With Good Reason:" ), read somewhat random recommendations about helping kids with disabilities, and plenty more. What's the matter? Well, that is the matter…the very nature of the publications is the problem! There appear to be few clearly reasoned and scientifically documented sources examining this problem. Opinion papers, surveys, interviews? As an editor, I'm accustomed to seeing submissions about the latest thing, but I sure as he[ck] wish we has serious scholarship on this topic. I’m just a little old man sitting in my office searching as I can, but I wish we were doing better as a research community. If you have examples of well-conceputalized and -conducted studies about the influence of SARS-CoV-19 on the education of kids with disabilities, please send the references to me. I'd like to promote them in this (and other) media.

As I mentioned, we travelled recently. Airports! Planes! Restaurants! Yikes! Scarey. We'll be getting COVID tests early this week. I, of course, hope they are negative. I sure as he[**] do not want to be a person like the teacher in Marin County, CA, who passed along her infection to a dozen students!

Some of you may wonder how my efforts to honor people enslaved by my great-great-, great-great-great, g-g-g-g...grandparents are going. There's not a lot happening on that front right now. However, I'm happy to report that there are reports of similar efforts in my neighborhood. Here is a link to an article in our local newspaper of a parallel project: Area historical society works to identify graves of people enslaved at Pen Park. In my view, there should be a national movement to identify and memorialize cemetaries of our ancestors.

So, this brings me to Cora Hannah. "Gram," as we called her, was not just a gentlelady of Virginia, but a caring and considerate person. Born in rural Virginia (and I mean "rural Virginia”—the nearby village probaly had a populaion in the low 100s, if that meany), only 30 years after the end of the US Civil War, she was a white woman of privilege. Her forebears had property and, indeed, held people as slaves. Of course, I didn't know her until about 60 years after she was born, ~25 years after she gave birth to my mother (her youngest child). Let me keep this brief: She was a school teacher as a young woman, had a magnificent (trained) singing voice, loved to tell stories (perhaps embellished?), supported her church, and served her community as an elected official. And she was a sweet, sweet human. And she acted to reserve the “slave burrying grounds.”

And, yes, Gram was irritated with me when I conducted one of my first experiments: As a three-and-a-half-year old, I wanted to test whether a cat would land on its feet; I selected a kitten from among the semi-wild pod that Gram fed on her back porch, marched up to the third story of the porch, and dropped it to the ground...there was subject mortality. I got a he[**]uva lecture and a ceremonial spanking.

Please play it safe. Do not test hypotheses without Gram's or the IRB's approval. Do not share your COVID cooties with family, friends, and students. Oh, and teach those kids well!

JohnL

SET Editor guy
vharlottesville

SET should not be confused with a product with a similar name that is published by the Council for Exceptional Children. SET predated CEC’s publication by decades.