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Special Education Today Newsletter 2(34)
The week’s news and info for 30 January 2023
For you faithful peeps, here is the current issue of the weekly newsletter for Special Education Today. It has a tad of brand new content, and it refers to articles published on the SET Web site during the week of 23 January. Readers who frequently visit the site will find some of the content in this issue of the newsletter to be familiar. Others may find new content. I am also providing an updated status report for the site and the newsletter, a table of contents for the past week, and a bit of commentary at the end.
That is, here’s the same old stuff.
As I noted last week, there has been enough growth that our community now numbers more than 500 subscribers. I find that number encouraging. Thank you!
I hope SET can provide trustworthy content to teachers, parents (and other family members), administrators, researchers, and folks in many parts of the world who are concerned about children or students with disabilities. There are paid and free subscribers from 14 countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, France, India, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Portugal, Taiwan, Turkey, UK, and US. Yay! (So far, no extraterrestial subscribers that I’ve seen…but if any are out there and they want me to know, please let me know: Just send me a note or drop in at our house…there’s probably room to land a small rover on the flat spot between our house and Moore’s Creek…and Pat would be thrilled to welcome you to the neighborhood!)
Paying subscribers subsidize access by teachers, parents, policy makers, advocates, and others. So, I express my great appreciation to the people who have become paying subscribers. If we can get the number of paying subscribers high enough, I hope we can create a lasting and broader community that helps kids (and their parents) around the world (more on that momentarily). Lasting in that this old man can, for example, pass it along to younger advocates and broader in the possibility to collaborate with people who can, for example, translate it into other languages.
Special Education Today by John Wills Lloyd is a reader-supported publication. Please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Paying subscribers—you know who you are—are the ones who’ll make SET work for the much larger community of readers concerned about special education. I’m honored by your expressions of faith in the enterprise. Thank you.
As noted repeatedly, I think a lot of this growth can be attributed to members telling others about SET. Thank you! Y’all are rockstars! Let me acknowledge, especially, the activities of Clay K., Betsy T., Tina C., and others. It’s almost like they are evangelizers!
I encourage readers to share the content. Readers are familiar with the embedded “share” buttons in posts, and I hope you will use them. But, shoot, you can simply clip a URL and pass it along, too. Thanks for sharing.
Flashes of the electrons
Right off the top in this section, I’d like to express my appreciation to Tina C., Beth P., and Vince W. for chipping in on the (I hope) developing list of parent support centers. I’ve pinned the post about this topic to the top of the Web site page so that it will be easy to find. I really would like to have readers’ help in identifying and linking to resource centers about disabilities for parents. I’d especially like to have readers post links about non-US resources. Please contribute links with which you’re familiar.
Thanks to Beth P., Tina C., Dan H., and Vince W.—and anyone whom I’ve overlooked—who dropped comments on posts this past week. Thanks, too, to Tina C. and Clay K. for sharing with the share button. And, of course, thanks to those of you who clicked the heart associated with posts, inlcuding Karen A., Jane B., Tina C., Clay K., Kate P., and Dan H. Your interactions warm the cold, cold cockles of my behavioristic heart (a phrase I think I’ve used repeatedly, here and elsewhere—teehee!).
The week’s table of contents
Parent support centers are ubiquitous: Where are the centers and what do they offer? [One more time: Please add what you know to the list by commenting on this post.]
Variation in stimuli affecting learning to read—What happens when some words to be learned have similarities—Is it better when they are separated versus clustered together?
The coinage of the term “learning disabilities”—Should we blame S. A. Kirk?
High-functioning autism in NY-NJ over 20 years—Are more kids without intellectual disability on the specturm than there used to be?
First in my comments this week, I have some good news. The International Council for Exceptional Children identified Kristie Jo Redfering as the recipient of the 2023 Teacher of the Year Award. A TV station featured a story about the surprise announcement for Dr. Redfering (watch the video).
In passing, let me shout the name of Ann Welch, an earlier recipient of the same CEC award who became a doctoral student at UVA’s School of Education way back in the 1990s; she was not just a spendid teacher, but also a fine person. She adopted and raised a child with disabilities.
Congratulations to Dr. Redfering and thanks for the reminder about Ann!
Second, probably every reader in the US (and many of those 13 other countries?) has heard about the case of a six-year-old student from Virginia who shot his teacher at their school, Richneck Elementary in Newport News, on 6 January 2023. As Michael K. would say, the incident was “Horrible.”
News media have quoted a statement by his parents released through an attorney that the child has a disability: “Our son suffers from an acute disability and was under a care plan at the school....” I didn’t find a copy of the statement from the attorney’s office, but WAVY, a TV station in that area, published a copy of it at the end of this story.
The statement about the child having a disability prompts me to ask some questions. I understand that there are fundamental privacy rights at play in this story. The family may not want to reveal details about the boy’s educational history. And, under the US Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the schools are obligated to protect the student’s records. So, some questions may be unanswerable.
What is an “acute disability?” Is this a category of disability that the school used? Might it be non-legal language used by a legal representative that obscures the facts?
Did the school have in place a school-wide program for positive behavior support?
Why weren’t the warnings about possible danger—reportedly issued by Ms. Abby Zwerner, the teacher who was shot, and others—heeded?
How does a six-year old learn in so few years that shooting a gun is the way to interact with others?
Where in the world did Ms. Zwerner learn to get the other kids out of the danger zone that her classroom had become? In my view, she did the right thing: She shepherded the other 20-some children out of the classroom. (In my behavior management classes, I told prospective teachers that if a fight broke out in their classroom, their first action should not be to seek to break it up, but to get all the other students out of harm’s way. Ms. Zwerner’s action exemplifies the principle that, as educators, our responsibilty is to keep students safe.)
The questions could go on and on. Perhaps readers have their own (please add them in the comments; they are likely better than the questions I’ve raised!). But, big picture: I would like to heed this incident as a warning that we need to improve the policies and practices of special education…and maybe some things about violence and gun culture.
Meanwhile, as usual, please take care of yourselves and teach your children well.
If you disagree with how I’m prattling on here, drop a comment! Let’s talk.
SET should not be confused with a product with the same name that is published by the Council for Exceptional Children. SET predated CEC’s publication by decades. Despite my appreciation for CEC (including it’s recognition of teachers of the year such as Drs. Redfering and Welch), this product is not designed to promote that organization.