Special Education Today Newsletter 2(9)
Did you miss much the week of 31 July 2022?
Here you have volume 2 number 9 (I think) of the newsletter for Special Education Today. Sometimes I confuse myself about dates and volume-issue numbers, because...well, I'm an older person. Sometimes I consult the wrong previous file, I forget whether I date posts according to the day they are published or the day I write them, and...well, let me just hope you look at the bigger perspective rather than looking for ways to ding me for my errors on detales...retales...bedales...metails...split-tails...resales...oh, I give up. You're good readers and you'll determine whatever that word is.
Meanwhile, please read on and find familiar contents. There is (a) a status report, (b) notes of appreciation to readers, (c) a table showing the posts from the past week, and (d) a little commentary.
Also, please feel free to read the issue on the Web at https://www.specialeducationtoday.com.
Special Education Today is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support SET, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
There were six new subscribers for SET this past week. Welcome to those folks. Adds > drops (2?), so it was a net plus.
Also, please allow me to extend a special warm thanks to those of you who have initiated a paid subscription. Y'all are helping make SET available to people around the world...and especially those of you who subscribe at the donor level.
All readers can see posts available for free (e.g., this newsletter). They will also see some posts that only show the first few paragraphs before displaying a paywall. Paid subscribers will see everything immediately. Although free subscribers get to comment on some posts, paid subscribers get to comment on all posts.
You, dear subscribers, are almost certainly the reason for any growth of SET. Thanks to those of y'all who share posts! Please keep on passing the word about SET.
You’re also the reason for other visits. Every week there are greater than 1000 unique visitors and a couple of 1000 visits (i.e., an average of a ~2 visits from each unique IP address). People are coming to SET, but we need more of them to generate a vibrant community.
Recognition (AKA: Flashes of the electrons)
At the outset of the recognition section for this week, I want to provide an underscored recognition of Clay K.'s dissemination about SET to speducators in the international community. I've known Clay for a great-long time and we have shared lots of delightful (and painful—think marathon running) experiences.
Clay has done an exemplary job of advancing special education on the international stage. Clay has been recommending SET to his many international colleagues via his social media. I thank him for this effort. One of my fondest hopes is that SET will bring together international scholars, parents, teachers, advocates, policy makers, journalists, and others in efforts to advance effective special education services for children and youth with disabilities. We owe this to our kids, no matter what nationality, ethnicity, gender, age group, etc. into which they fit.
Thank you, Clay!
Likers: Michael K., Clay K. (3), Lorraine S., Melanie H., Michelle P., Natalie M., and Tina C. (2). Thanks, y'all, for providing feedback and helping others be alert to content!
Followers: Yes on that birdy place, readers can follow @specialedtoday (and @spedpro and @JohnWillsLloyd, too). That's Twitter. Another flash of the electrons to Betsy T., who keeps mentioning SET on Twitter. Please help SET by retweeting those notices and posting your own tweets about content even when I don’t.
Please make sure you go to the Web site to see the most current content. New posts will drop this coming week (and I hope more often than the week of 18 July 2022). You’ll find a Web-styled version of this newsletter as well as any newer posts. For now, here are the headlines from the last week.
Now, allow me to return to a more personal message. To be sure, the notes I am about to post here have a professional feature to them. But please understand that there is a profoundly personal connection: I write about the late Barbara D. Bateman, who was not only my mentor and doctoral advisor, but also, my pal.
As some readers will know, I was among the fortunate few who had a tight relationship with Barb. This past week, Barb's wife and step daughter organized a helluva wonderful remembrance of Barb both as a special educator and, especially, as a human being. I was honored to be able to profess my admiration for Barb as a part of the ceremony.
Barb co-authored (with her doctoral advisor, Sam Kirk) what I believe is the first academic article that discussed “learning disabilities” directly. Although another author group1 had used the term in the 50s, that group’s use was more of a casual reference; the Kirk and Bateman paper was surely the first educational publication that addressed LD expressly, directly, straightly. The Kirk-and-Bateman article appeared in 1962 in Exceptional Children, even before Professor Kirk gave a famous speech in 1963 to the group that would become the Association for Children with Learning Disabilities—a speech that is often said to have founded LD as a disability.
Barb was regularly impatient with anyone who saw her- or himself as “a Grand Poohbah of Special Education.” Not only was she not at ease with people exclaiming their own importance, she was willing to disclaim exhaultations said about herself. She was willing to say, “I said “X.” I was mistaken.I should have said “Y,” and here are the reasons that I find “Y” more compelling.”
In the early 1960s, Barb had a vision about diagnosing and treating LD. That vision was predicated on examining problems underlying failures in academic learning, problems in perception, cognitive processing, and expression and drew from the famous Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities (and other tests of the time). She spoke about that vision extensively. She was smart, articulate, connected, and convincing. She was helping educators understand why, despite their great efforts, they had kids who were not learning...kids who were intellecually capable, privileged, and engaging, but simply were not learning reading, writing, and computing (and, maybe, behaved a bit quinky, too).
In the mid- to late-1960s, however, Barb came to realize that her analysis was mistaken. The problems were not with the kids' perception, cognitive processing, and expression; the problems were with the instruction the children were receiving. Kids needed to be given effective instruction that was adapted to their individual needs. By the 1970s and 80s, she rejected her earlier perspective. She gave a mea culpa and moved ahead.
Barb also realized that she wasn't going to be able to secure beneficial instruction for kids with disabilities by conducting research and writing academic articles. As much as she promoted strong evidence, she needed something more powerful. She saw the law as an ally. She went to law school, thinking that she would be able to help society to do the right thing by using the law.
It was during the beginning of her law phase that I got to know Barb. I sat in her intro-to-LD class when she started class by portraying herself as a “first-year law student.” I had the extraordinary priveledge of being welcomed into the huge, international group of people (parents, educators, children, and everyday folks) whom she influenced and, especially, into her tiny circle of confidants.
Barb spent something like 50 years championing the legal rights of kids with disabilities, supporting individual families' and public organizations' efforts to ensure that kids with disabilities had access to free and appropriate education. She helped many families (as well as local education agencies) by steering them to recognizing that they simply had to
Identify students’ "UENs" (unique educational needs),
Create "IEPs" ("individualized education plans") to meet those UENS,
“Monitor” if things were working, and
Make it "FAPE" (available for free in the public schools).
Special education was, really, that simple for Barb—and it ought to be so for all of us. I'm so privileged to have had her guidance in learning that simple perspective. And I am honored that she agreed to co-edit a book with me and Melody Tankersley, Enduring Issues in Special Education: Personal Perspectives as one of the last big professional projects of her career.
Barb may have been barely taller than five feet, but she was a giant. I’ll love her forever.
SET editor guy
Special Education Today is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, become a free or paid subscriber.
SET should not be confused with a product with the product that uses the same name and is published by the Council for Exceptional Children. SET predated CEC’s publication by decades. Despite my appreciation for CEC, this product is not designed to promote that organization.
Thelander, H. E., Phelps, J. K, & Kirk, E. W. (1958). Learning disabilities associated with lesser brain damage. Journal of Pediatrics, 53, 405-409.