At this conference she gave a keynote address. She mentioned, for example, that as we approach the 35th anniversary of IDEA that we should review our successes as well as plan improvements for the future. For example, she pointed out that as of the latest statistics, 57% of special education students are in the general education classroom for more than 80% of the time. That is a lot of inclusion.
After the keynote, she held a question and answer session. She answered a lot of questions. I asked her about seclusion and restraints and the behavior provisions of IDEA. She stated that Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports was likely going to be developed a bit further in the reauthorization. In answers to other questions, she said that her dream is to merge the general education law, ESEA, and its funding with the special education law and its funding. She also indicated that a "growth model" approach was a likely change in the reauthorization of NCLB (or ESEA as it shall once again be called.) She also said that changes to the new regulations permitting parents to revoke consent for special education are not likely.
She also reiterated her support for using some special ed funds for early intervening services. Serving the very young is a definite priority for the new Assistant Secretary of Education.
She also wants to hear from you. She asked persons attending the conference to email her with ideas for reauthorization. This level of openness and transparency is unprecedented. I am pleased.