Subj: The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter, Vol. 1, No.
5, June 11, 1998
Date: 98-06-11 09:06:30 EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Pete+Pam Wright)
The Special Ed Advocate
The Online Newsletter About
Special Education and the Law
June 11, 1998 Vol. 1, No. 5
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The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special
education legal issues, cases, tactics and strategy, effective
educational methods, and Internet links.
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TACTICS AND STRATEGY CORNER
If you want the new IDEA 97 to apply to your child's IEP, ensure that
the last IEP meeting is held after July 1.
IDEA 97 was revised and effective June 4, 1997. However the parts of the
new law about IEPs did not become effective for another 13 months, i.e.,
July 1, 1998. Schools and some organizations are complaining that 13
months is "not enough time" for them to understand the new law and
regulations - nor to develop legally correct IEPs.
Read 20 United States Code Section 1414 yourself. It is at our website.
The statute is clear and easy to read. IEPs do not have to be
complicated. IEPs can be short and simple - but they must have clear
benchmarks, goals and objectives. If you want your child's IEP to be
controlled by the new law, ask to have an IEP meeting and signing after
July 1, 1998.
In a subsequent newsletter, you'll learn about Shannon Carter's IEP.
Shannon's IEP was controversial. Ultimately, her school district
appealed this case to the U. S. Supreme Court case. Shannon's IEP is one
of the better IEPs I've seen. Why? Shannon's IEP contains clear
measurable goals and objectives.
In our workshops and seminars about "How Advocate for Your Special Ed
Child," we tell participants that they must join three disabilities
organizations for one year. I wonder how many people follow through on
this piece of advice.
Why do we make this recommendation?
The disabilities groups - the International Dyslexia Association, the
Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDAA), Children and Adults
with Attention Deficit Disorder (Ch.A.D.D.), the Alexander Graham Bell
Association for the Deaf, the National Tourette Syndrome Association,
and others publish informative newsletters for their members.
These newsletters are an excellent source of information about law,
advocacy, education, and medical issues. When parents join these groups
- and read these newsletters - they learn about recent developments that
help their child.
Let's take a look at some articles from two recent newsletters that have
come across our desk.
TO PROMOTE OR RETAIN?
Parents have to make tough decisions. If you have a child with a
disability, the end of the school year may bring another tough decision.
If your child isn't learning, should you hold the child back?
Many schools offer two "solutions" to children's learning problems:
retention and referral to special education. All too often, schools fail
to offer the critical third "R" - remediation.
What are the FACTS about retention? Does retention help? Does an extra
year allow children to catch up?
In March 1998, the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities
(NJCLD) issued their position paper on grade retention. Below are some
excerpts from "To Promote or to Retain."
"Flunking is an expensive fad that wastes taxpayer monies."
"Grade retention costs as much as $13,000 per child per year." Retained
children DO NOT catch up. "Retained children fall further behind and are
at greater risk for dropping out of school."
"The weight of the evidence of literally hundreds of studies shows that
retaining children does not produce higher achievement."
"Rather than flunking students, schools should provide high quality
instruction for children who find learning difficult," says Sylvia
Richardson, MD, Chair of the National Joint Committee on Learning
"Flunking penalizes children for the failure of school systems to
develop effective instructional plans for children who need more and
better instruction if they are to succeed. More of the same just does
not work," Dr. Richardson explained.
Are you trying to decide how to help a struggling child? What are the
Studies show that the most effective strategy for these children is
intensive tutoring by a qualified teacher. Intensive tutoring works.
"Children who find learning difficult benefit more from high quality
instruction. Providing a daily period of intensive tutoring by qualified
personnel could cost half as much as retention - and intensive tutoring
reliably enhances achievement. Retaining children does nothing to
address the problems that make learning difficult for some children."
From "LDA Newsbriefs" (Vol. 33, No. 2, March/April 1998)
EDUCATION FOR THE DEAF ACT (EDA)
DID YOU KNOW THAT . . . The average deaf child (who has at least average
intellectual ability) is able to read at the 4th grade level - at the
end of 12th grade?
DID YOU KNOW THAT . . . 54 percent of deaf and hard of hearing children
DO YOU KNOW . . . about the Education of the Deaf Act? Congress passed
the EDA in 1986 to authorize federal funding of research in technology
and education. The Bell Association wants to ensure that this research
reflects the needs of ALL students who are deaf or hard of hearing -
those in residential programs - and the 54 percent who are mainstreamed.
The Bell Association also wants more research into effective practices -
what and how deaf students are taught - with rewards for higher
achievement, graduation rates, and language proficiency.
DID YOU KNOW THAT . . . fewer than 20 percent of newborns are screened
for hearing loss?
DID YOU KNOW THAT . . . children who are diagnosed with hearing loss
after 6 months of age have more significant language and social
development delays than children diagnosed soon after birth?
The Bell Association is lobbying for universal newborn hearing
screening. Congressman James Walsh proposed a bill to support states
that establish early detection and intervention programs for all
From "Voices" newsletter, published by the Alexander Graham Bell
Association for the Deaf (Vol. 5, No. 2, March/April 1998)
Lesson: For all disabilities - hearing impairments, learning
disabilities, autism - early diagnosis, early identification and early
intervention is the key. Advocacy begins early.
TO PARENTS - YOUR EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR IS . . .
Are you counting the hours and days until school lets out for the
summer? Are you ready for a break? Sorry - not yet - you have homework
this summer. The pressure from school is off - you hope that the school
problems will vanish. Of course, you have lots of time on your hands.
Here is your list:
Join several parent disability organizations.
Collect copies of your child's files, all evaluations, IEPs, and other
Organize your child's' file in chronological order. File all documents
this way: oldest document first, most recent document last.
Read our article Understanding Tests and Measurements" from on our
website. (To master this information, you should read this article
Learn to use Excel or another spreadsheet program.
Chart out your child's test scores. Develop charts of your child's
progress or lack of progress. (TIP: use the wizard in your software
program to learn how create graphs of educational progress - or lack of
Read the new IDEA-97. Use a highlighter to help you master the important
parts of the new law. Read the new law several times. (The new law is in
the Law Library of our website.)
You need to learn how to touch type. Your child needs to learn how to
touch type. Children learn from their parents, and model them. If you
can only "hunt and peck," do you think your children will be motivated
to learn touch typing? Of course not.
If you use a typing software program 3 times a day for 5 to 10 minutes,
you will type 20-30 words per minute in about three months. If you hunt
and peck, your goal is to touch type at 30 wpm or more at the end of the
summer. If you learn to touch type, you can expect and require your
children to do this too. After a week or two, you'll notice that they
begin to compete with you and will try to increase their speed over
Your children will thank you for being such a great role model - in
about 10 years!
During the summer, continue to check web sites for educational and
legal developments. In addition to "wrightslaw dot com," you should
visit LD Online, EdLaw, and the U.S. Department of Education's site. Pay
frequent visits to your home state's Department of Education website.
You'd be surprised at the interesting information you can pick up there.
LETTERS TO THE WEBMASTER
We receive lots of letters from people with questions.
Occasionally, we receive letters from people who disagree with our
positions and opinions. Check our web site for some of these opinions
during the next few weeks.
Different views, tactics, strategies, beliefs, opinions, and prejudices
make for interesting reading. After all - Wright's way is not
necessarily the only way!
If you have a favorite tip, tactic, or strategy that you'd like to share
with us, send it to
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Copyright 1998 Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright.
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reproduced in any form. Pete and Pam Wright, P. O. Box 1008, Deltaville,
The Special Ed Advocate
Pete and Pam Wright