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AACTE Recommendation to Support PK-12 Students with Disabilities During COVID-19

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

Disabled schoolboy on wheelchair using digital tablet in library

The following AACTE Statement was sent to the National Governors Association.

During the health emergency of COVID-19, AACTE is encouraging its members, as well as states and districts, to explore partnerships between district and educator preparation programs to address the increased workforce demands for special educators in our nation’s schools. In particular, we urge stakeholders to

Identify opportunities for special education teacher candidates to continue their contributions to educational opportunities for students with disabilities (e.g. clinical practice opportunities or paraprofessionals in temporary positions) for the duration of the impact of COVID-19 on our school system.

How Will COVID-19 Emergency Spending Bill Help Education?

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Washington Continues to Respond to the Coronavirus Epidemic

The Congress and federal agencies are likewise making changes by the moment. A 50,000 foot overview includes the following.

Legislative activity 

  • On March 6, Congress passed the first COVID-19 stimulus bill – an $8 billion package to help states and localities address the pandemic.
  • On March 18, Congress passed the second COVID-19 relief package, which ensures paid sick leave to certain employees, expands SNAP and Medicaid, and provides emergency assistance.
  • Congress is now considering the third COVID-19 relief package, a measure which will total between one and two trillion dollars and may address issues as far reaching as increases in unemployment insurance payments, financial assistance for hospitals and health care providers, a “state stabilization fund,” direct cash payments of $1,200 per qualified person, small business guaranteed loans, and billions in loans for industries, such as airlines. Provisions related to education are also on the menu, as described in the next article.

Secretary DeVos Publishes New Resource on Accessibility and Distance Learning Options

U.S. Department of Education logoU.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today the Department has released new information clarifying that federal law should not be used to prevent schools from offering distance learning opportunities to all students, including students with disabilities. This new resource from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) explains that as a school district takes necessary steps to address the health, safety, and well-being of all its students and staff, educators can use distance learning opportunities to serve all students.

“It was extremely disappointing to hear that some school districts were using information from the Department of Education as an excuse not to educate kids,” said Secretary DeVos. “This is a time for creativity and an opportunity to pursue as much flexibility as possible so that learning continues. It is a time for all of us to pull together to do what’s right for our nation’s students.”

Podcasts: University of Washington Interviews Upcoming AACTE Annual Meeting Presenters

The articles below originally appeared on the University of Washington College of Education website and are reprinted with permission.

JoTeacher working with studentsining doctoral research and teacher education program improvement

While incorporating issues of equity and social justice in the preparation of future teachers has long been a focus at the University of Washington College of Education, it wasn’t well understood until recently how that commitment is reflected in graduates’ daily teaching practice. 

That picture is getting clearer thanks to an internship for UW doctoral students in teacher education launched three years ago. In a new podcast, Patrick Sexton, assistant dean for teacher education, and Cristina Betancourt, a graduate student in teaching and curriculum, discuss the College’s work to marry teacher education program improvement with the learning of its doctoral students through its Teacher Education Research and Inquiry (TERI) internship. 

Sexton and Betancourt are part of a team who will present their work developing case studies of recent alumni for program improvement at the 2020 meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. 

Read more.

Incorporating disability studies curriculum in teacher education

While Washington has recognized October as Disability History Month for more than a decade — and schools are asked to honor the month in some fashion — teachers have had limited resources available to help them actually enact disability studies curriculum in the classroom.

The President Recommends Big Cuts for Education: Will the Congress Agree?

A pair of scissors representing cuts in education concept

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Bad News for Education in President Trump’s FY 2021 Budget Proposal

The FY 2021 appropriations process was officially launched with the release of the President’s budget proposal on Monday. The budget is thematically similar to previous Trump budgets, in that it calls for big spending cuts all around and proposes federal support for private schools in the form of a tax credit for donations to scholarship programs (called “Education Freedom Scholarships”). The proposal represents an overall 7.8% cut ($5.6 Billion) to the Department of Education.  Key features of the proposal include the following:

Elementary and Secondary Education

  • Twenty-nine K-12 grant programs will be consolidated into a single block grant (“Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged Block Grant”) designed to provide maximum flexibility for state and local systems at $19.4 Billion – a $4.7 Billion cut from current spending.
  • The prized charter school grant program is consolidated into the block grant.
  • The big winner in the budget proposal is Career and Technical Education which is slated for $763 million increase.
  • Education Freedom Scholarships (tax credits for private schools) would cost $46 Billion over 10 years.
  • All IDEA programs are level funded; however, Part B of IDEA receives a $100 million increase.

CCSSO Updates Guide to Support Principals in Leading Inclusive Schools

Teacher interacting with schoolboy in classroom

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) recently updated its Supporting Inclusive Schools for the Success of Each Child: A Guide for States on Principal Leadership guide. Developed in collaboration with AACTE and other education partners, this online guide strengthens principals’ capacity to lead inclusive schools to ensure each student has an equitable opportunity to succeed. The updates include additional resources and a new policy to practice section, showcasing the work of the four states—Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and Ohio—involved in CCSSO’s Advancing Inclusive Principal Leadership (AIPL) State Initiative, of which AACTE is also a partner. The four states are refining their school leader preparation and development efforts to ensure there is a focus on supporting the academic and social and emotional success of each learner, with an emphasis on those with disabilities.

Turning the Table on the Special Education Teacher Crisis

Throughout the United States, schools are facing a critical shortage of special education teachers. This crisis is growing due to an emerging demand for special education teachers, coupled with a diminishing number of qualified candidates, recruitment challenges, and a high turnover rate. Reversing this crisis requires a multiprong approach that includes short- and long-term strategies to prepare and support teachers. Special education is complex, and one common type of instruction does not support all disabilities. To promote equity in education, we must ensure students with disabilities have access to proper assessment, resources, and qualified educators that correspond with their needs.

President Releases Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Request

USA flag and American dollars. American flag blowing in the  wind and 100 dollars banknotes in the backgroundOn Monday, February 10, 2020, the President kicked off the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget process by making his budget request to the Congress. Generally released on the first Monday in February, the delay reflects the delay in completing the FY20 appropriations process, which concluded on December 20, 2019. With a divided Congress, we should expect the Administration’s highest priorities to emerge as the heads of agencies and departments testify before the subcommittees of jurisdiction on the Appropriations committees later this spring. We will then learn the priorities of the Democratic Caucus leading the U.S. House of Representatives and those of the Republican Caucus leading the U.S. Senate, as subcommittee bills are released and marked up.

For the U.S Department of Education (Department), the President’s Budget Request cut the agency’s funding by $6.1 billion, or 8.4% from Fiscal Year 2020 levels. The key initiatives in the President’s Budget Request include the following:

Education Freedom Scholarships

This program establishes a federal tax credit program for voluntary donations to state-designed scholarships for elementary and secondary students offered by state-identified 501c3 non-profit entities. While these scholarships have been proposed before, this FY21 request includes and expansion of the opportunities for students and families.

Revolutionizing Education

AACTE DEI Video: Building the Special Education Pipeline

Ed Prep Matters features the “Revolutionizing Education” column to spotlight the many ways AACTE, member institutions, and partners are pioneering leading-edge research, models, strategies and programs that focus on the three core values outlined in the current AACTE strategic plan: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Quality and impact; and Inquiry and Innovation.

In the next segment of the AACTE Diversity, Equity and Inclusion video series, AACTE members address the critical shortage of special education teachers and how to ensure teachers can effectively serve students with disabilities. The video aligns with AACTE’s strategic priority to advocate for high-quality educator preparation and the inclusion of all students in equitable access and opportunity in PK-20 classrooms. In this DEI video, Building the Special Education Pipeline, leaders in educator preparation consider approaches to increasing the pool of highly qualified special education teachers.

IDEA Spending Increases but the Federal Share Decreases

 

U.S. Capital skyline

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Federal Budget: The Deficit Explodes; Do Earmarks Return?

The federal government’s budget deficit is projected to reach $1.02 trillion in 2020—the first time since 2012 that the deficit breached the $1 trillion threshold—according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The combination of 2017 tax cuts and new spending have been the biggest contributors to the increased deficit. FY 2020 is likely to see spending in the $4.6 trillion range while the government brings in only $3.6 trillion in tax revenue. CBO Director Phillip Swagel said, “Changes in fiscal policy must be made to address the budget situation, because our debt is growing on an unsustainable path.”

House Appropriations Chair, Rep. Nina Lowey (D-NY) is talking with Democratic colleagues to gauge their interest and seek input. The plan under deliberation would be a revised version of past earmarking with rules in place to keep the system in check. One aide to a freshman Democrat who flipped a GOP-held seat in 2018 noted, “This is not what we came to Congress to do. Voters made it clear years ago that they were tired of pork and special interest spending in Washington and sweetheart deals.” However, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer backs the revival of an earmark-type system. However, the Senate does not seem receptive to the idea. “The Republican Caucus is on the record against that, so that’s not going to go anywhere,” said Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL). 

What’s New in the Department of Education?

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

As you know, all eyes are focused on the Senate impeachment trial this week.  And with the House being in recess, there is no Congressional business underway directly related to education.  This may be the case next week as well, since the trial will continue in the Senate.  We will keep our eyes peeled.  But meanwhile there is a lot going on over at the Department of Education.

Secretary DeVos Announces new Civil Rights Compliance Center

The Department of Education is launching a new unit in the Office for Civil Rights, which is intended to assist schools and universities in “proactively” complying with federal civil rights laws before complaints are filed. Dubbed the Outreach, Prevention, Education and Non-discrimination (OPEN) Center, the initiative will provide targeted support to schools, educators, families, and students in relation to federal non-discrimination laws.

Recruiting Special Education Teachers Takes New Form at UNC Charlotte

UNC Charlotte - Cato College of EducationAACTE member institution University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) Cato College of Education is working to address the shortage of special education teachers through a new recruitment initiative.  Its department of special education and child development received a grant to produce a video to recruit future special educators to the university. Led by Christopher O’Brien, associate professor and special education undergraduate program director, the production features faculty, students, and alumni of the special education teacher preparation program.

The special education program at UNC Charlotte’s Cato College of Education prepares teacher candidates to

WKU Announces $1 Million Grant to Boost Number of Special Education Professionals

This article originally appeared in Bowling Green Daily News and is reprinted with permission.

A federal grant award topping $1 million to Western Kentucky University will help address a shortage of special education professionals seen regionally and across Kentucky.

“The shortages are felt nationally, but definitely in an acute manner in our rural communities,” said WKU College of Education and Behavioral Sciences Dean Corinne Murphy, whose college is heading up the effort called Project PREP, or Preparing Rural Educators and Professionals for Students with High-Intensity Needs.

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education said there’s a shortage and a lack of diversity of fully prepared and credentialed special education teachers in public schools across the country.

Spotlight on NIC to Reduce Special Education Teacher Shortage

Teacher helping a disabled pupil at the elementary schoolIn an article that originally appeared in Special Ed Connection, author Kara Arundel spotlights AACTE’s collaboration with the CEEDAR Center in launching the Reducing the Shortage of Special Education Teachers Networked Improvement Community (NIC). As part of the NIC initiative, 10 preparation programs in higher education have been selected to participate in this NIC and implement a range of strategies that will positively impact the special education teacher shortage by the Fall of 2022.

Cleveland State University (CSU) is one of the universities featured in the article, along with its Associate Dean for Faculty and External Affairs Tachelle Banks. AACTE’s Caitlin Wilson commented on how CSU and the nine other institutions will help find solutions to the nationwide teacher shortage. “By better understanding what works in particular context and comparing how it is similar or different  at another university helps us to learn and share with the filed how that particular strategy or promising practice might be adapted depending on local conditions,” said Wilson, the director of program improvement and practice.

Read the full article, “Network of Universities Collaborate to Solve Special Educator Shortages.

Ohio University to Partner With ESSCO to Create New Special Education Teacher Training Program

This article originally appeared on the Ohio University Ohio News website and is reprinted with permission.

Ohio University received the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grant that will allow OHIO to partner with the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio (ESCCO) to improve the quality of OHIO’s special education teacher preparation program, which will improve the academic achievement of K-12 students.

The grant will span over five years, totaling more than $4.1 million to help accomplish this goal. It also provides opportunities for adult learners, supporting OHIO’s Strategic Framework and the initiative to catalyze strategic enrollment for lifelong learning.

“This partnership with ESCCO allows Ohio University to serve Ohio in preparing the next generation of teachers to work with all learners,” said Renée A. Middleton, dean of the Patton College of Education. “Our vision statement is ‘The Patton College—Where Learning Has No Limits!’ This partnership for teacher quality will allow us to fulfill that vision and commitment.”

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