Special Education Today Newsletter 1(5)

The week's news and info for 19 July 2021!

Welcome to the fifth issue of Special Education Today. This issue has, among other things, a few usual house-keeping notes, a listing of recent posts (common, I know), and a little bit of gratuitous commentary.

Housekeeping

If you are receiving this message directly, you are among the > 250 people who have associated their addresses with the newsletter in the last four-five weeks. Thank you for hanging with SET.

If you got a copy of this message from friends (colleagues?), that's great! Hello!. You are welcome to join the mailing list by clicking the button at the bottom of this message. I welcome you to sign up (should that be "up sign?").

Regardless of how you received this message, I'm glad you are reading it and I hope you will pass it along to others (with positive comments, of course). I want SET to have wide circulation so that those who agree and disagree with the content can have a forum for discussing their views.

So, please share SET and comment!

Shoutouts

Thanks to drLeyDavis, arodriguez, rmergen, morano, and many others who joined this past week. I'm sorry to see a couple of people leave--one explained that there wasn't enough international content—sorry to miss on this; I add international content as I find it, and readers can help me do so by sending links to news, reports, and discussions from their neighborhoods.

And thanks to Jane, Kathleen, and others who threw "likes" onto posts! It's great to know folks apparently are reading the content!

Meanwhile, please watch for another reference on Twitter from @JohnWillsLloyd. Any of y'all who can share it, please do so! Follow my Twitter account, if you wish.

If you're wondering, I haven't had a FaceBook account since circa 2014. However, I appreciate that some readers are sharing SET on that platform (and others I don’t frequent).

Current Contents

Forth-coming Features

I'm considering alternatives. I have to make the time to produce the posts...and it does take time! In addition to the interviews and content mentioned previously, I'd like to create content about basic questions (e.g., causes of debilities). As mentioned previously, I'd like to discuss the history of ideas; what are the origins of, for example, individualized education? What do you think? Is that worth publishing?

By the way, over the next year, the Illinois (US) chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children will produce a series of brief seminars mediated by Zoom and celebrating the centenary of the Council for Exceptional Children. The first of twelve talks is 10 August 2021 and it will feature Michael Gerber. Learn more here: https://www.illinoiscec.net. (Please note that, although I shall speak during the meetings, I earn $0.00 from this venture.)

Please send me suggestions about future interviewees and topics! Again, my Twitter contact is @JohnWillsLloyd and you can reach me via e-mail at the address for this message.

Blather

When I was much younger, in the 1960s and 70s, I was an assistant teacher for the Los Angeles County public schools. I worked at what I will call a tertiary care program, one that enrolled kids from local education agencies across the LA basin. I refer to it as "tertiary" because the students had been referred from (1) their schools' general education programs to (2) their LEA's special education programs (such as they were), and then (3) from their LEA's special education programs to the facility where I was an assistant. Our facility enrolled fewer than 50 students in total; from across LA, four sibling programs enrolled similar numbers of students.

These programs existed during the time prior to most legal protections for students with disabilities. Not only might schools simply deny services to some kids, they might take funds from the state that were awarded for support of kids with disabilities and use those dollars to build (as I've mentioned previously) a swimming pool that would be called a physical therapy facility...and that would be used more hours per day by a water polo team of able-bodied youths.

But, you know what? The kids enrolled at that facility where I worked turned out to be, first and foremost, kids. You can bet your freaking boots that they had learning and behavior problems. Seven-year old A. showed up with her Coke-bottle eye glasses and her teeth pointing every which way; she spent her first week in a corner crying. Minimally verbal and self-injurious nine-year old K. came with a history of using his feet to pull objects off shelves, tables, and other surfaces; at his previous school, he'd been restrained for years using "soft ties" (also known as a "straight jacket") that kept him from using his hands, so he'd learned to hurl objects with his feet like a baseball pitcher. Another K., a big, red-headed adolescent would pace up and down the hallway before his school day began, taking a precise number of steps before turning on his heel and marching the opposite direction; at each turn, he would raise his arm as if looking at his watch and repeat—loudly—an advertising slogan, "Put a Dodge in your garage."

Here's the thing: Each of these kids and their school mates were just kids. Sure, they had problems, and many of them had problems (self-injury, behavioral explosions) that were quite risky for themselves and others, but they still were kids...and we could love them and teach them. As special educators, it's important that we remember that our kids are, well, our kids. Like any kids, they deserve our care and love.

I hope everyone is vaccinated, is regularly washing her hands, and is practicing safe distancing. Please take care of each other and teach your students well.

JohnL

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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.