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Special Education Today Newsletter 3(17)
Here’s this week’s news and info for 23 October 2023
Welcome to the current issue of Special Education Today. This edition covers the week of 16 through 22 October 2023. Let’s celebrate surviving another week!
I think I haven't provided an update on subscriptions for some time, so here’s one. have actually moved this week. Since late September, SET has grown by more than 30 subscribers (of the free sort). For paid subscriptions, things are even.
Lost of thanks for subscribers—Clay K., Jane B., Bonnie B., Mary Anne L., Mike G., Joel M., and Sal B.—who shared SET and dropped comments recently. I’m going to hazard a guess that those actions contributed to readership, and I hope anyone who gets a shared version of SET—e.g., those who read Jan H.’s notes and slides—will find useful content here.
Special Education Today by John Wills Lloyd is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Table of contents
There were eight new posts this week! In addition to the regular newsletter of last Monday, there were six other posts that I sent as e-mail notes or dropped directly on the site. (If that seems like too many in your inbox, please let me know.).
Here’s the usual list of all the week’s posts, starting with the newsletter from last week:
Special Education Today newsletter 3(16): Can you survive another version of the SET weekly drivel?
Sarah Schwartz on changes in reading curricula: What has the Ed Wk reporter learned about authors' and publishers' changes in their materials?
Wearable technology for tracking interactions: Can AI assist in monitoring behavior?
Special ed process—Overview: What does a top-level view of special education reveal?
Special ed processes—Step 1: Eligibility: Is the student eligible for special education services?
Halloween '23 #3: Ghostly entrances: Are these positively unscary in the daylight?
Aphorisms, sayings, & such #7: Might there be something valuable in writings from 1000s of years ago?
This coming week, there will be more drivel similar to what I posted last week. There will, I hope, be the next two installments indicated in Special ed process—Overview. If you’re subscribed to SET, you’ll learn about some of the posts via e-mail. Please remember, though, that you can always catch up by going to https://www.SpecialEducationToday.com/ to see if you’ve missed something or to review posts announced in an e-mail message you’ve trashed or can’t find.
Much of the content of SET is devoted to special education. That’s because I hope that our community can work toward improving the quality of special education and, thereby, improve the lifetime outcomes for individuals with disabilities.
If readers do not know, those outcomes are pretty disheartening. Many measures of outcomes (e.g., earnings, incarcerations, …; see Chesmore et al., 2016, for an overview) as adults show that on average individuals with disabilities do not fare as well as their non-disabled peers. To some extent, of course, those outcomes are not the fault of special education. Individuals’ very disabilities may prevent them from activities that lead to higher income. Also, societal systems may discriminate against employing individuals with disabilities or may increase their chances of contact with law enforcement. And, of course, there are other contributors (especially poverty and ethnicity) to untoward outcomes for individuals with disabilities (see Mallett et al., 2022).
But the scope of the problems are substantial. Here is a figure from Jeon et al. (2023). showing how little individuals with disabilities in Canada earn over their lives in comparison with the non-disabled peers.1 The Jeon et al. findings do hot appear to be a fluke; they analyzed an enormous amount of data that they created by merging two large national data sets. In addition, other researchers (e.g., Levere, 2021; see US disability employment statistics; also see Tamborini et al., 2015 for a broader perspective) have found similar results with different data sets from other countries. Refer again to Chesmore et al. (2015) about other outcomes.
Improving the quality of special education services is one path I hope will result in better outcomes. Another closely associated set of services is in the area of rehabilitation.
There’s some potentially good news about rehab services in the US. The Rehabilitation Services Administration of the US Department of Education has made substantial awards to US states as a part of the Disability Innovation Fund.
The purpose of the Disability Innovation Fund (DIF) Program, as provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 (Pub. L. 117-103), is to support innovative … activities aimed at increasing competitive integrated employment … for youth and other individuals with disabilities.
As a part of that effort, the Rehabilitation Services Administration of ED announced 15 September 2023 that it had awarded nearly $200 million to state rehabilitation services and state education agencies to demonstrate how to improve services.
The nearly $199 million in funding for the Pathways to Partnerships innovative model demonstration project supports collaborative partnerships between state vocational rehabilitation agencies, state and local educational agencies, and federally funded centers for independent living to help individuals with disabilities seamlessly transition to life after high school, preparing them for independent living, competitive integrated employment and community integration. Pathways to Partnerships is the largest discretionary grant ever administered by RSA.
In my book, that’s a lot of money. And, individual states snagged funds in $10 million bites. For those who are wondering what their states received in awards, take a look at “U.S. Department of Education Awards Nearly $199 Million to Improve Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities Through Partnerships.” Learn more about what 20 states plan to do with their funds from a page about the DIF Grantees.
I’m hopeful that these projects will have salutary effects. I shan’t hold my breath, because the often appear to be pretty much garden-variety more-of-the-same-old-stuff. But, here’s hoping that that same-old-stuff will be beneficial, that lots of new beautiful flowers will bloom.
For those who do not find this editorial to be the cause of some dyspepsia, I end here with familiar recommendations with an addition (or two): Give a damn about each other. Wear your seatbelts. Watch out for pedestrians (one of whom might be me on my exercise walks!) and cyclists (one of whom might be a neighbor’s child who doesn’t understand how dangerous it is to swerve in and out around parked cars!).2 Of course, it should go without saying that I implore you to teach your children well.
Ye’ old founder and editor
Chesmore, A. A., Ou, S. R., & Reynolds, A. J. (2016). Childhood placement in special education and adult well-being. The Journal of Special Education, 50(2), 109-120. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022466915624413
Jeon, S. H., Park, J., & Kohen, D. (2023). Childhood‐onset disabilities and lifetime earnings growth: A longitudinal analysis. Health Economics, 32(8), 1749-1766. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/hec.4687
Levere, M. (2021). The labor market consequences of receiving disability benefits during childhood. Journal of Human Resources, 56(3), 850-877. https://doi.org/10.3368/jhr.56.3.1118-9883R1
Mallett, C. A., Quinn, L., Yun, J., & Fukushima-Tedor, M. (2022). The “Learning Disabilities-to-Prison” Pipeline: Evidence From the Add Health National Longitudinal Study. Crime & Delinquency, 69(13-14). https://doi.org/10.1177/00111287221081024
Tamborini, C. R., Kim, C., & Sakamoto, A. (2015). Education and lifetime earnings in the United States. Demography, 52(4), 1383-1407. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-015-0407-0
I’d really like to see error bars around those averages for each year. How much overlap is there between the two curves in each panel when we know the distribution of outcomes one standard deviation above and below those means for the blue and red curves?
I recommend Jamelle Bouie’s 21 October newsletter for the NYTimes. It’s about pedestrians’ and bicyclists’ safety. If you’re a Times subscriber and signed up for the newsletter, you’ll be able to read it by following this link. If you want to subscribe, I think there will be a link permitting you to do so. (I make nothing for making this recommendation.)