Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year

Here is a New Year's Day fact from the Library of Congress:
The Leonard and Felicia Bernstein family sent New Year’s Day, January 1, greeting cards to extended family and friends during the holiday season. Holiday card pictures are among the eighty-five photographs from the 1960s available online in the Leonard Bernstein Collection, held by the Library of Congress Music Division.
Bernstein with Felicia, Jamie, Alexander and Nina. Photographer Unidentified. Leonard Bernstein Collection. Music Division

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Senate Confirms New OSERS Chief #OSERS

On December 21st, the U S Senate confirmed the nomination of Johnny Collett as Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

Mr. Collett previously served as the Director of Special Education Outcomes at the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), where he worked to support states in their efforts to raise expectations and improve outcomes for children and youth with disabilities. Previously, he served as Director of the Division of Learning Services and State Director of Special Education at the Kentucky Department of Education as well as worked as a high school special education teacher. Collett's nomination was widely praised by stakeholders; for example here is the statement by the National Disability Rights Network.

Here is an interview with the new Assistant Secretary in April, 2017. Here is an article on him in Disability Scoop.   Here is  his opening statement before the HELP committee of the House of Representatives. Here is the Assistant Secretary's twitter feed.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Weekly Question!

The Endrew F decision has been around for a while now, is it making a difference for children with disabilities? #FAPE

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of our readers.

As a point of personal privilege, here are two of the reasons why I am so happy this Christmas, my grandbabies: James right; Franklin left. Both are healthy and doing great.

The following are some holiday fun facts provided by the U. S Census Bureau:

Rush to the Stores

$22.7 billion

The estimated retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2016. A decrease of $1.0 billion in retail sales from December of the previous year.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Note: Leased departments are separately owned businesses operated as departments or concessions of other service establishments or of retail businesses, such as a separately owned shoeshine parlor in a barbershop, or a beauty shop in a department store. Also, retail sales and inventory estimates have not been adjusted to account for seasonal or pricing variations.


The estimated percentage for total sales in December 2016 for jewelry stores.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau


The December sales accounted for hobby, toy and game stores in 2016.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau


The estimated increase in the end-of-month inventories by our nation’s department stores (excluding leased departments) between August and November 2016.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

$61.4 Billion

The estimated value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2016 — an increase of 9.8 percent from the previous year and the highest estimated total for any month last year.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

$30.6 billion

The fourth quarter 2016 after-tax profits for all retail trade corporations with assets of $50 million and over, up from $21.7 billion in the third quarter of 2016.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Christmas Tree Decorations

$1.5 billion

The value of U.S. imports of Christmas ornaments from China for 2016. China led the way with 92.0 percent of the U.S. total imports of Christmas ornaments.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

$463.2 million

The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree lights from China for 2016. China led the way with 88.1 percent of the total U.S. imports of Christmas tree lights.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Where Toys Are Made


The number of locations nationwide that primarily produced dolls, toys and games in 2015, an increase of 12 locations from 2014 (560); they employed 6,394 workers in the pay period including March 12, an increase of 179 employees from 2014 (6,215). California led the nation with 90 establishments.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Holiday Names

Some names of places associated with the holiday season consist of a dozen places named Holly, including Mount Holly, N.C. (population 14,495), and Holly Springs, Miss. (7,682). There is Snowflake, Ariz. (5,764); Santa Claus, Ind. (2,463); North Pole, Alaska (2,232); Noel, Mo. (1,816); and — if you know about reindeer — Dasher, Ga. (979), and Rudolph, Wis. (430). There is also Unity, Ore. (68).

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Monday, December 18, 2017

Weekly Question!

The Endrew F decision has been around for a while now, is it making a difference for children with disabilities? #FAPE

Monday, December 11, 2017

Weekly Question!

The Endrew F decision has been around for a while now, is it making a difference for children with disabilities? #FAPE

Friday, December 8, 2017

If You Like This Blog, Oppose The End of Net Neutrality #NetNeutrality

The FCC will likely vote to end net neutrality next week on December 14, 2017. The vote will quite probably be a partisan matter- 3 to 2 along party lines. It is not too late to make your voice heard on this matter.

The loss of net neutrality would allow your internet provider to start blocking or slowing your access to certain sites or services, start charging you different amounts for different sites and services, and/or charge sites like this blog just to allow their users to see the site. That may well make it harder for you to get to and read this blog.

Here is a quote from a Lifehacker article about the changes proposed.
"Without net neutrality, internet providers will have the freedom to carve up the internet into slow and fast lanes—and charge companies for access to higher speeds. For smaller startups that can’t afford to pay extra, this could be a death sentence. Even bigger tech giants like Netflix and Amazon may not be willing to pay extra, resulting in slower streaming speeds for some of your favorite shows." "Comcast and Verizon also have media properties of their own (Comcast owns NBC while Verizon owns Yahoo and AOL, to name a few). Without net neutrality, service providers could easily prioritize their own content over competitors. They could even block access to other sites that are critical of them or pose a competitive threat."

Here are some other articles concerning the likely end of net neutrality:
What the end of net neutrality means to you. Here is a link to a Lifehacker article.
Here is an article that includes the FCC's proposed Order ending net neutrality.
If you wish to take action, here is an action website.

The next step will likely be litigation, and as you know it may take a while. Fasten your seat belts!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

OSEP Issues Guidance On The Meaning of Endrew F. #FAPE

The federal Office of Special Education Programs issued regulatory guidance today on the meaning and implications of the Endrew F decision by SCOTUS. The document is in question and answer format. There are twenty questions and answers. {Suggestion for new name: 20 Questions About Endrew!}

To whet your appetite, here are two of my favorites:
15. What actions should IEP Teams take if a child is not making progress at the level the IEP Team expected? An IEP is not a guarantee of a specific educational or functional result for a child with a disability. However, the IDEA does provide for revisiting the IEP if the expected progress is not occurring. This is particularly important because of the Court’s decision in Endrew F., which clarifies that the standard for determining whether an IEP is sufficient to provide FAPE is whether the child is offered an IEP reasonably calculated to enable the child to make progress that is appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances. At least once a year, IEP Teams must review the child's IEP to determine whether the annual goals for the child are being achieved. The IEP Team also may meet periodically throughout the course of the school year, if circumstances warrant it. For example, if a child is not making expected progress toward his or her annual goals, the IEP Team must revise, as appropriate, the IEP to address the lack of progress. Although the public agency is responsible for determining when it is necessary to conduct an IEP Team meeting, the parents of a child with a disability have the right to request an IEP Team meeting at any time. If a child is not making progress at the level the IEP Team expected, despite receiving all the services and supports identified in the IEP, the IEP Team must meet to review and revise the IEP if necessary, to ensure the child is receiving appropriate interventions, special education and related services and supplementary aids and services, and to ensure the IEP’s goals are individualized and ambitious. Public agencies may find it useful to examine current practices for engaging and communicating with parents throughout the school year as IEP goals are evaluated and the IEP Team determines whether the child is making progress toward IEP goals. IEP Teams should use the periodic progress reporting required at 34 CFR §300.320(a)(3)(ii) to inform parents of their child’s progress. Parents and other IEP Team members should collaborate and partner to track progress appropriate to the child’s circumstances. 
16. Must IEPs address the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports? 
Where necessary to provide FAPE, IEPs must include consideration of behavioral needs in the development, review, and revision of IEPs.17 IEP Teams must consider and, if necessary to provide FAPE, include appropriate behavioral goals and objectives and other appropriate services and supports in the IEPs of children whose behavior impedes their own learning or the learning of their peers.  

You can see the press release here. The full question and answer document is available here.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Follow-up RE School Choice: NPR Report #school choice

Following our post regarding the study on school choice by the GAO, there was a report on the study and related matters by NPR.

Part of the NPR story notes that 
"As part of its review, the GAO also interviewed 17 families of students with disabilities. Some said they were happy with their child's private school experience and considered it an improvement over what they'd gotten in public school.
But several families said they wished they had known that a private school could charge them for special education services. And one family was, according to the report, "surprised to learn that teachers providing special education services to their child [in private school] were not trained to provide those services." Granted, 17 families is a small sample size, but NPR has also heard these concerns from parents during previous reporting.
The Education Department points out that it doesn't have the authority to require states to be more transparent — to tell parents about the rights they're giving up when they leave a public school. That's why the GAO recommends that Congress consider stepping in and writing a new requirement."
You can read the NPR report here. NPR's previous report on children with disabilities and voucher programs is available here.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Weekly Question!

The Endrew F decision has been around for a while now, is it making a difference for children with disabilities? #FAPE

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Breaking: GAO Recommends Legislation RE Notice Of Rights of Students With Disabilities In Voucher/Waiver Programs #scgool choice

Growth of voucher and ESA (education savings account) programs has drawn attention to the ways states ensure accountability and transparency to the public and prospective parents. With over half of voucher and ESA programs specifically designed for students with disabilities, there is interest in the information parents receive about special education services and rights when enrolling in a choice program. GAO was asked to examine these topics in more depth.

The GAO found that almost all of the 27 private school choice program websites provide a directory of participating schools and some provide guidance on selecting schools. However, GAO estimates that no more than half of all schools participating in any type of voucher program mention students with disabilities anywhere on their websites, according to GAO’s review of a nationally generalizable sample of websites of private schools in voucher programs. Further, GAO estimates that no more than 53 percent of private schools in voucher programs designed for students with disabilities provide disability-related information on their websites. GAO found private school choice programs inconsistently provide information on changes in rights and protections under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) when parents move a child with a disability from public to private school. In 2001, the U.S. Department of Education (Education) strongly encouraged states and school districts to notify parents of these changes, but according to Education, IDEA does not provide it with statutory authority to require this notification. According to GAO’s review of information provided by private school choice programs, and as confirmed by program officials, in school year 2016-17, 83 percent of students enrolled in a program designed specifically for students with disabilities were in a program that provided either no information about changes in IDEA rights or provided information that Education confirmed contained inaccuracies about these changes. Officials from national stakeholder groups, private choice programs, and Education told GAO that some parents do not understand that certain key IDEA rights and protections—such as discipline procedures and least restrictive environment requirements—change when parents move their child from public to private school. Ensuring that quality information is communicated consistently and accurately to parents can help address potential misunderstanding about changes in federal special education rights.

The GAO recommended that Congress should consider requiring states to notify parents/guardians about changes in federal special education rights when a parent moves a child from public to private school. In addition, GAO recommends Education review and correct inaccurate IDEA-related information provided by states.

Given the current policy debate about school choice and its impact upon the rights of students with disabilities, this is an important study to review. You can read the one page summary here.  You can review the entire 53 page report here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Weekly Question!

The Endrew F decision has been around for a while now, is it making a difference for children with disabilities? #FAPE

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving #Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving. On this gratitude day, we all take the time to remember why we are thankful. Have a great day.

To help us celebrate, here are some fun facts from our friends at the U S Census Bureau:

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims — early settlers of Plymouth Colony — held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest. Many regard this event as the nation’s first Thanksgiving. The Wampanoag Indians in attendance played a key role. Historians have recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America. These include the British colonists in Virginia as early as 1619.
The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday 154 years ago (Oct. 3, 1863) when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving Day should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.

Where to Feast

118.9 million

The number of occupied housing units across the nation in the second quarter of 2017 — potential stops for Thanksgiving dinner.

Family Gatherings

4.6 million

The number of multigenerational households in the United States in 2016. It is possible these households, consisting of three or more generations, will have to purchase large quantities of food to accommodate all the family members sitting around the table for the holiday feast, even if there are no guests.


The number of places in the United States named after the holiday’s traditional main course. Turkey Creek census designated place in Arizona, had 405 residents in 2015, followed by Turkey city, Texas (367); Turkey Creek village, La. (357); and Turkey town, N.C. (280). There are also 11 townships in the United States with “Turkey” in the name. (Please note that the populations of Turkey Creek census designated place, Ariz.; Turkey city, Texas; Turkey Creek village, La.; and Turkey town, N.C., are not significantly different from each other.)


The number of places and townships in the United States named Cranberry, a popular side dish at Thanksgiving. Cranberry township (Butler County), Pa., was the most populous of these places in 2016, with 30,739 residents. Cranberry township (Venango County), Pa., was next with 6,452 residents.


The number of counties, places and townships in the United States named Plymouth, as in Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the first Pilgrims. The two counties named Plymouth are in Massachusetts (513,565 residents) and Iowa (25,200 residents).
Plymouth city, Minn., is the most populous place, with 77,216 residents in 2016.
There is one township and one census designated place in the United States named Pilgrim. Dade County township in Missouri had a population of 129. A census designated place in Michigan had a population of 50. There are also Mayflower city, Ark., whose population was 2,430, and Mayflower Village census designated place, Calif., whose population was 5,421. (Please note that the populations of Pilgrim census designated place, Mich., and Pilgrim township in Dade County, Mo., are not significantly different from each other.)
Note: Townships have been included in these counts from 12 states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin) where the primary governmental or administrative divisions of a county serve as general-purpose local governments that can perform the same governmental functions as incorporated places. These county subdivisions are known as minor civil divisions, and the Census Bureau presents data for these in all products for which place data are provided.
(Please note that population totals for the two places on the list that are census designated places, Pilgrim, Mich., and Mayflower Village, Calif., and Pilgrim township in Dade County, Mo., pertain to the 2011-2015 American Community Survey.)

Participants in the First Feast

23.8 million

The number of U.S. residents of English ancestry as of 2016. Some could very well be descendants of the Plymouth colonists who participated in the autumn feast that is widely believed to be one of the first Thanksgivings, especially the 636,000 living in Massachusetts.


The number of members of the Wampanoag American Indian tribal grouping as of 2010, roughly half of whom resided in Massachusetts. The Wampanoag attended the first Thanksgiving, playing a lead role in the historic event, and were essential to the survival of the colonists during the newcomers’ first year.

Preparing the Feast … Enjoying the Day … and the Aftermath


The percentage of households in 2011 with a gas or electric stove — essential for cooking their Thanksgiving feast. Another 96.8 percent had a microwave, also helpful in preparing the meal.


The percentage of households with a television in 2011. No doubt, many guests either before, after or perhaps even during the feast will settle in front of their TVs to watch some football.


The percentage of households with a stand-alone food freezer in 2011, which they may want to use to preserve their Thanksgiving leftovers. Far more (99.2 percent) have a refrigerator. Once all the guests leave, it will be time to clean up. Fortunately, 69.3 percent have a dishwasher to make the task easier.

Culinary Delights


The number of supermarkets and other grocery (except convenience) stores in the United States in 2015. These establishments are expected to be extremely busy around Thanksgiving as people prepare for their delightful meals.


The number of baked goods stores in the United States in 2015 — a potential place to visit to purchase tasty desserts.


The number of fruit and vegetable markets in the United States in 2015 — a great place to find holiday side dishes.

244.0 million

The forecasted number of turkeys raised in the United States in 2016. That is up 4.5 percent from the number raised during 2015.

44.5 million

The forecasted number of turkeys raised in Minnesota in 2016. Minnesota topped in turkey production, followed by North Carolina (33.5 million), Arkansas (26.0 million), Indiana (19.5 million), Missouri (19.2 million) and Virginia (17.2 million).

$25.8 million

The value of U.S. imports of live turkeys in 2016, with 99.9 percent of them coming from Canada and the remaining from France. When it comes to sweet potatoes, the Dominican Republic was the source of 49.6 percent ($6.4 million) of total imports ($12.9 million). The United States ran a $13.7 million trade deficit in live turkeys during the period but had a surplus of $159.4 million in sweet potatoes.

859.0 million pounds

The forecasted weight of cranberries produced in the United States in 2016. Wisconsin was estimated to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 521.0 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (estimated at 207.0 million pounds). New Jersey, Oregon and Washington were also estimated to have substantial production, ranging from 19.4 to 58.8 million pounds.

3.1 billion pounds

The total weight of sweet potatoes — another popular Thanksgiving side dish — produced by major sweet potato producing states in 2015.