Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Exclusive Interview of Michael Yudin, Assistant Secretary of Education - Part II #Yudin, #interview

This is the second post involving our exclusive interview with Michael Yudin, the Assistant Secretary of Education for special education and rehabilitative services.He is the top guy at the agency that enforces the special education laws!

His biography is available in a previous post. We are grateful to the Assistant Secretary and his staff for this interview.

The format of the interview will be questions by me signified by (JG), and answers by the Assistant Secretary, signified by (MY).  Here is the second segment:

JG: What are the key priorities for OSERS in the remaining time of this Administration- what does your to do list look like?
MY: They have been and remain until they kick me out of here, three priorities: 1 Ensuring that kids with disabilities have meaningful access and an opportunity to learn college and career ready standards 2. Improving post-secondary education and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities with a particular focus around transition and transition-age youth. 3. Addressing inequities in special education- particularly those based on race and ethnicity
JG: Could you talk a little bit more about those three priorities of OSERS?
MY: Sure, The first is ensuring that kids with disabilities have meaningful access to learn college and career ready standards and if you look across a number of our initiatives, for example results driven accountability which is a laser focus on how kids are doing and outcomes and everything that we have built around RDA and state systemic improvement plans and the whole TA effort to support that focuses upon outcomes and how kids are doing. Our recently issued guidance on IEPs and how IEPS must be designed to allow a child to access and make progress in the general curriculum which is the same general curriculum that applies to non-disabled kids based upon state content standards for the grade in which the child is enrolled. I’m really proud of the teams’ effort in the resource that we just released- a web based resource that provides to schools and families the research-based interventions and strategies both on the academic side as well as the behavioral side, what we know actually works to help kids meet those standards.
In the second priority- improving postsecondary education and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities with a particular focus on transition, first and foremost is the reauthorization of the VR (vocational rehabilitation) program through the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act and there’s some incredible opportunities for individuals with disabilities served by the VR program. There are thirty million individuals with disabilities in this country and the labor participation rate is around twenty percent, if that. VR serves those with significant disabilities with a focus on those with the most severe disabilities- so VR is not designed to support the millions and millions of people with disabilities that need training, support, skill development and so part of the Workforce Opportunity Act is the vision and creation of this seamless, coordinated high-quality accessible workforce development system that assists individuals with barriers to employment whether they are disabilities or other barriers. The other thing about WIOA is that there is a particular emphasis on serving youth with disabilities and coordinating services across IDEA and VR. Both statutes require transition, and we’re really looking forward to supporting educators and VR providers while ultimately focusing on our consumers who are the young people themselves and their families to get the transition services that are necessary to be successful. We have invested resources around youth with disabilities. Last year for the first time OSEP and RSA put up money together to support and fund a new technical assistance center on transition- literally designed to coordinate the services between VR agencies and education agencies. So we’re excited about that, but even this year in VR we focused technical assistance dollars as well as some discretionary dollars around helping VR agencies support harder to serve young people: disconnected youth, kids who may have dropped out of school, kids that are in foster care, kids that are in correctional institutions and supporting VR agencies in reaching kids that are disconnected. I’m also really excited about our career pathways demonstration project trying to link up education and employment and stackable credentials that are necessary to achieve that success.
The third priority is addressing the inequities. Kids with disabilities are disproportionately suspended and removed from the classroom for disciplinary reasons – that’s a major, major concern for many of us here at the Department, across the administration and frankly in the field. We know that removing a kid from a classroom is not an intervention. The research shows that it does not improve behavior, it doesn’t address classroom management. On the contrary the consequences of removing a kid are significant. Kids who are removed from the classroom become disengaged, they suffer academically, they have poor attendance, they are more likely to enter the juvenile justice system, drop out of school. The school to prison pipeline data show that kids that are suspended are at great risk for entering the correctional system. So we launched earlier this year our Rethink Discipline Initiative ed.gov/rethinkdiscipline We had a convening at the White House with a number of districts to discuss how to rethink discipline and come up with some stronger policies to support behavior and we got some great conversations there. We launched our Twitter account and got literally eight million views in the first twenty-four hours of our #RethinkDiscipline. We’ve done a number of Google Hangouts. We’ve had thousands of views on those. You can go on those and look at data of how kids with disabilities have been suspended, how kids with disabilities of color are suspended, males, females. You can click on a map on our website and see, for a particular district, how kids with disabilities (or subgroups) are suspended, and it is really an incredibly helpful tool. It utilizes our civil rights data collection; so it takes the data and puts it into a format that is useful to stakeholders. We also talk about in one of the Google Hangouts –Early Childhood Suspensions and we know that a crazy number of kids as young as babies are being suspended and expelled- removed from the classroom. For example black kids make up about eight percent of preschoolers in this country, but they make up 48 percent of preschoolers that are suspended or expelled so we did a Google Hangout around that and what some state and local providers are doing to address that. The third Google Hangout concerned what districts can do to address behavior and we recently released a fantastic toolkit for teachers that presents evidence-based alternatives to suspension: how do you address behavioral problems in the classroom with specific research-based examples at both the secondary and elementary levels. How do you prevent bad behavior. How do you respond to and address bad behavior. A lot of effort in the discipline space and a lot of energy in that regard. We have also committed to addressing significant disproportionality in special education in identification and placement and discipline based on race and ethnicity and we are working on those as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment