Tuesday, October 30, 2012

6 Parenting Tips - How To Successfully Overcome Special Education Deceptions

Are you a parent of a special needs child who has been told things
that are not true about your child's education, by disability
educators? Are you a parent who is afraid to stand up to the
deceptions? Would you like to learn six disability advocacy tips, for
standing up to some educators who are not truthful? This article will
teach you easy to use parenting tips to help you in your fight for
your child's educational life. These tips along with knowledge ofthe
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) will help you in
your disability advocacy journey.
I will give an example of a common lie that is heard by many parents,
and follow up with six tips.
Lie: "I am sorry, we cannot give your child speech therapy, because
the category your child receives special education under is a learning
disability." (Be sure that your child is tested in all areas of
suspected disability! Some school personnel deny services without even
testing the child, to see if the child needs services in a specific
area such as speech).
Tip 1: Ask for, in writing, a copy of the state or federal law that
the school person is using to deny needed special education services.
(IDEA does not allow school districts to base services on labels, only
educational needs). For example: "Could you please show me, in
writing, the state or federal law that states that you have the right
to deny my child an educational service that they need."
Tip 2: If the disability educator made this statement in a verbal
conversation, as soon as possible after the conversation, write the
educator and quote what they said. Also, keep a copy. It may be
necessary to write the special education person a couple of times, to
get a response.
Tip 3: Use the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to
strengthen your position. For Example: "IDEA states that the purpose
of the law is to ensure that all children with disabilities have
available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes
special education and RELATED SERVICES designed to meet their UNIQUE
NEEDS . . .Section 1400 Purposes."
Tip 4: Tell the disability educator, in writing, that since they are
not able to show you a state or federal law that states that your
child's label determines service (it doesn't), that you stand by your
position that your child needs speech therapy. Remember to be
assertively persistent! Also, use testing to prove that your child is
below age and grade equivalents to justify related services.
Tip 5: Consider getting an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE),
for your child with a qualified person. In the above example, you
could take your child to a qualified Speech and Language Pathologist,
and have the child tested. Make sure they are willing to write a
detailed report to include recommendations.
Tip 6: Send the independent evaluation report to school personnel, and
ask for an IEP meeting to discuss the evaluator'srecommendations. If
possible, have the evaluator participate by telephone.
This article has given you six parenting tips that you can use to
successfully overcome disability educator's deceptions. You have the
right to hold special educational personnel accountable for giving
false information. Good luck in your advocacy journey!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The College Education Grant is Free Money for School

The costs of attending college today continue to skyrocket. Many students are finding it nearly impossible to finance their own education. With costs exceeding $15,000 a year, getting a part-time job often isn't the answer. Balancing an education with the demands of a full-time job is becoming increasing impossible.
Individuals who want to pursue higher education and need monetary help to attend college have a couple of options. Self-help federal aid allows you to get loans and work-study programs. The second option, gifts don't require repayment.
In addition to the US Federal government, other organizations offer aid as well. This aid comes in the form of a college education grant. The great thing about a college education grant, like the majority of grants and unlike student loans, is that you don't have to repay the money.
College education grants are based on need and are highly competitive. These grants won't necessarily cover all costs of an education, but provide the bridge that can make educational pursuits possible. These grants are donated by federal or state governments, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, research institutions, funding institutions, corporations, and private individuals.
The key is to start your research early when looking for college education grant opportunities. Starting during your junior year of high school is not too early. Anyone who wishes to pursuit a post-secondary education should complete a Free Application for Student Aid form and forward it to the department of education as early as possible. This should be submitted to the state assistance agency in the state where you hope to attend college or university. You may find eligibility for more than one grant or scholarship. Many grants are donated on a first-come first-served basis, so it's best to get applications in early.
The Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Educational Supplemental Opportunity grant are two of the most popular and well-known need-based grants.
The Federal Pell Grant provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post-baccalaureate students. Students may use their grants at any one of approximately 5,400 participating postsecondary institutions.
The Federal Educational Supplemental Opportunity Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students for post-secondary education. Students can receive these grants at any one of approximately 4,000 participating postsecondary institutions. Institutional financial aid administrators at participating institutions have substantial flexibility in determining the amount of FSEOG awards to provide students who are enrolled or accepted for enrollment.
Start with your local library or high school counselor's office for information about all the financial aid available to you. On the web, an internet search with the words college and grants should prove very useful. Some of the more popular sites such as finaid.org, collegeanswer.com, and the Michigan State Library website are excellent sources for college education grant information.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tips For Finding The Best Online Education Opportunities

Online education is the new way to obtain a degree with convenience. There are a number of wonderful online programs which allow individuals to obtain their education at times which are most convenient to their currently daily schedules. Whether attending full time or holding down a day job and taking classes whenever possible, this online educational avenue is a great thing to pursue. There are a few tips to keep in mind in order to find the best education opportunity possible for those who wish to obtain degrees via the World Wide Web.
Search a Multitude of Options
First and foremost, it is extremely important to look around a bit at different options and not select the first online university which you come across. As with any type of educational institution, some online education providers are better than others. Therefore, shop around a bit with regard to educational possibilities and only select one from the bunch after thoroughly reviewing your options.
Consider The Cost Of The Online Program
It is also important to consider how much the entire online program will cost you. This relates to not only the online class portion but books and any other costs as well. Some online program providers will offer loans for those who need to find a way to pay for their education. Other providers may not offer loans but will accept money obtained via outside lenders. In addition, there may be a way to pay for the online degree in installment payments which will make the overall education much more affordable.
Determine How Many Credits Will Need to Be Obtained to Acquire a Degree
You should also determine how many credits you will need to acquire in order to get your degree in the desired educational subject. Some online schools will offer degrees for fewer credits than others. By choosing a school where less credits are required, you may find that you receive the same type of education for less money. Therefore look into the credit requirements of each online educational provider prior to selecting a specific one.
Look Into How Classroom Sessions Are Administered
One who is searching for an online school should also find out how the virtual classes are administered. Some may find that classes where the students can do the coursework at their leisure may be more suitable to their schedule than ones which require the student to log on at certain times throughout the week to attend classroom sessions. This is an important factor to consider so that you can be certain to get all of your coursework done in a timely and efficient manner.
Inquire About the Reputability of the Online Program
Last but certainly not least, you should inquire about the reputability of a certain program prior to signing up for a specific one as this will often determine whether the program is worth your money or not. As with any educational institution, certain online educational programs will be better than others. Therefore, try doing some research online when it comes to figuring out how good a certain education program is and ask friends and family members with regard to online education recommendations.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Your Child's Initial PPT Meeting - Special Education

Many parents have an extra responsibility when it comes to their children's education. Every year these parents attend their child's Planning and Placement Team meeting. Any child with a designation within the special education spectrum has one of these meetings every year. These designations include learning and intellectual disabilities, emotional disturbance, autism, other health impairments (ADD/ADHD, etc) and many others. Attending these meetings can be daunting and intimidating to non-educational members of the team. It doesn't have to be though. If a parent is prepared for the meeting and knows the 'drill' it should be much less difficult.
Annual PPT's are held every year at the same time. Legally there must be a meeting every year within 365 days and a triennial every 3 years. The triennial is a meeting to determine if a child is still eligible for special education. I am jumping ahead here a little, let's start at the beginning.
If your child has never had a special education designation, a member of the school community, yourself or your doctor may suggest that your child is tested to determine if he or she needs extra support. Sometimes it is obvious (your child may have autism, down's syndrome, or a physical disability) and other times additional testing needs to be completed to determine eligibility.
  1. The first step is for you or school personnel to start the process. If you initiate the process (through a written letter - example to be shown) the school must hold an initial meeting called a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting. At this meeting a number of individuals may be present. This will include a building administrator, special education teacher, a regular education teacher, the school psychologist, guidance counselor, school nurse, transition coordinator and anyone else deemed necessary. Your child's strengths and weaknesses will be discussed and you will be asked for your input and what your concerns are. You must also sign a permission to test form. Withholding permission will stop the process. The school district may determine that legal mediation is necessary at this time. A multi-disciplinary will be conducted to determine eligibility and must be completed within 45 of the initiation of services. Therefore, a full evaluation must be completed from the date the school receives your letter (or is internally referred by school personnel) within 45 school days. Weekends and vacations do not count.
  2. At the 2nd meeting it will be determined whether or not your child qualifies for special education services. For placement in special education, you must give your written consent. This can be withdrawn but you should seek the advice of an educational lawyer or advocate if you plan to do this. If it is determined that your child does not qualify for special education services, ask about a qualification under a 504 designation. You can disagree with any of the decisions made and have it noted in the Individual Education Plan (IEP). The IEP is the map that school personnel will use to guide them in servicing your child's educational needs. You also have the option of disputing your position through the courts. The school district I work in tries to work with parents and avoid this altogether. If you win your case, the school district must pay your legal bills. It is suggested that you bring another individual with you (spouse, friend, pastor) for positive support. You should write down the concerns you have: strengths, what your child needs the most help with, goals that you want your child to succeed.
  3. If you child will be transitioning from high school to college or the world of work, a transition plan must be developed as well. Be prepared to discuss what you see for your child. Your teen will also be at this meeting (starts attending around 8th grade) and be asked what their interests and dreams are. You can help him or her in discussing this beforehand.
  4. Standardized testing will be discussed and it will be determined whether your child needs extra time, special setting or a reader (or any other number of accommodations).
  5. A modification page will be in the Individual Education Plan; you should ask for a copy of this page and make suggestions that you think are necessary for your child to succeed without enabling him/her.
  6. The number of hours your child will be serviced by special education personnel, counseling staff, etc. will be determined.
  7. Goals and objectives will be written for any areas that your child needs additional help in. This can include reading, math, writing, general academics, behavior, self-help skills, communication and other areas as necessary.
  8. Make sure to ask questions if you have them and get the name and number of at least one member of the team that you can talk to if you have any concerns or questions about your child, the IEP or PPT meeting.
  9. IEP's generally go into effect 5 days after the meeting or sooner if agreed to by the team. The school is obligated to get you a copy of the IEP within 5 days of the PPT meeting. Any questions you have (or disagreements with the plan) should be directed to a member of the team (usually a special education teacher or administrator).
  10. Relax, relax, relax. The more often you attend PPT's the more comfortable and knowledgeable you will become.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

5 Things to Know About Free Appropriate Public Education and Special Education

Do you have a child with autism or a learning disability and you are concerned about their education? Does your child with Dyslexia struggle with their academics even though they are receiving special education services? Free Appropriate Public Education is a right for all children receiving special education services. This article will discuss 5 things that you will need to know about FAPE, to help your child receive it.
1. The legal definition of FAPE is: special education and related services that are designed to meet the child's unique needs, gives meaningful benefit, and has been given at no charge to the parents. Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) includes and Individual Education Plan that is designed to meet the child's unique educational needs and gives meaningful benefit.
2. The Supreme Court Case that gave us this definition of FAPE is Board of Education Vs. Rowley 458 US 176 in 1982. You may be able to use this case in the future if you have a dispute with your school district over FAPE.
3. In the Rowley Case the justices determined that there are two areas that must be met to determine if a child with a disability is receiving FAPE:
A. Procedural Requirements: Did the district follow the correct procedural requirements and provisions in developing the child's IEP?
B. Will the IEP developed by the school district give the child meaningful educational benefit.
If either one of these is not done by the school district, then it means that the child is not receiving a free appropriate public education.
4. IDEA 2004 states that a procedural violation must rise to the level of substantive violation, to constitute a lack of FAPE. In other words the procedural violation must be a major violation, in order to be a violation of FAPE. Some hearing officers and courts have found that parents being denied the ability of being an equal participant in their child's IEP, is a substantive violation which is a denial of FAPE.
5. A new recent court case N.R. vs. Kingwood Township the court states that the IEP must allow the child: significant learning and give meaningful benefit. Use this definition to determine if your child's IEP is going to allow them significant learning and give meaningful benefit.
By understanding what Free Appropriate Public Education is and having knowledge of court cases you will be able to help your child receive a Free Appropriate Public Education.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Online Education in Developing Countries

What we see up-and-coming is a society of Open and Distance Learning Institutions with a strong association among themselves. Sometimes this collaboration involves the exchange of course materials, and some form of cross licensing and credit transfer. The delivery is becoming increasingly electronic, and we should now view these educational systems as information technology systems.
Will these developments serve the interests of developing countries? There is clearly much need for caution. We need to moderate the developments reported above with concerns for access to the education both in terms of the students' own prior knowledge and cultural perspectives, and in terms of access to the technology through which to access the education. We also need to be concerned about the impact upon the local culture that may be matte by imported materials and the developed world's culture that these embody.
National Distance Learning Programs
In developing countries there is a natural desire to extend educational provision to the whole population.
Online education at the schools' level began in both countries during the colonial era in the 1950s and 1960s, partly through voluntary organizations and partly through government support as `a palliative for the colonial conscience'. The provision has taken various forms -correspondence schools, radio programs to supplement normal provision, radio and poster campaigns to promote literacy, health and other issues, as well as more formal online education programs. These programs have continued in the post-colonial era, with 70,000 students involved in Tanzania, and 42,000 in Zimbabwe. There has been a major focus on teacher training. Programs in both countries have suffered from inadequate funding (10% and less than 5% of the educational budget, respectively, in Tanzania and Zimbabwe). Neither country has established their own open university. One was advocated in 1989 for Tanzania, with use of radio and television broadcast, but not the full use of IT. In 1993 the University of Zimbabwe established its Online education Centre which now has some 1,500 students. We believe that this uses the conventional correspondence approach based on text.
Online education saves the need to build university campuses with teaching facilities, and for students to travel and to be accommodated centrally. IT and networking further helps this, but requires access to the technology - and as Zindi and Aucoin have pointed out for Tanzania, even something as basic as electricity may not be available within the community that you are wishing to serve. Such infrastructure problems are not faced by developed countries, though sometimes, as in Russia which is also seeking the use of online education to meet an educational need, there can be infrastructure difficulties: thus in Russia conventional postal delivery can be problematic while delivery electronically via satellite to the best of current equipment could be perfectly feasible.
Transnational Programs
We have seen that a large provider of education like the OU is already reaching out beyond its national borders, helped by IT and networking, to provide education globally. Geography is no longer a barrier.
This means that local students could subscribe to courses that may be supplied purely on the networks, and through this would obtain qualifications from the suppliers in the developed world. Presumably these qualifications would be recognized locally, and could indeed have some special standing.
It is worth noting that one motivation for Zimbabwe to establish its own national programs was to reduce the 163 million dollars flowing out of the country from the 40,000 students annually enrolled on online education courses. Developing countries may, just not be able to finance transnational educational programs.
The language of teaching is not the only concern. Teaching materials often draw upon case studies and examples, and these may not make any sense in other contexts. An example from the training materials for a database tool was the use of baseball, which was, of course, incomprehensible outside the US - a translation into football made the training much more widely acceptable.
The transnational and trans-cultural use of educational materials must be viewed with caution.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

How to Have True Leadership in Education

There are three kinds of education: Professional education, the public school system, and leadership in education. Leadership in education can also be called the Thomas Jefferson Education. For families who couldn't afford to give their children any other kind of education, public school was their option. The system was instituted to create students who could become part of the work force after receiving a diploma.
Now, the public school system is overwhelmingly the educational option of choice for almost all Americans. Educators who know Thomas Jefferson's style of education like to call public school education "conveyor belt education." Public schools punch out students as if they were little more than commodities and factory products. Children are all treated the same in the public school system. They all get the same materials at the same age. They get the same indistinguishable tests. There is little or no focus on individual skills or interests.
Most students from this kind of education are great workers, at least. They were pretty much taught what to think. Another system is professional education, which is not far removed from its public counterpart. Professional schools offer training in specialized fields, such as law, medicine, and business.
Professional schools are better known as trade schools. These schools are very difficult to get into, with only the best students being highly competitive. A student who emerges from this school is a trained specialist who knows when to think.
Leadership in education, or leadership education, is the third form of education. Historically, students of this system went on to become powerful leaders in government. Students from this system also become champions of noble causes, great speakers, and entrepreneurs. It was Thomas Jefferson's vision to institute a system that would create leaders who would prevent tyranny. But after his educational plan was instituted, it only took a few short years for the government to involve itself in public education.
Jefferson and other leaders like him throughout history were mostly schooled at home. Once they received the foundation skills, they went to quality schools to learn the classics. Students are inspired to learn when mentors and teachers guide them in their studies. They learn how to think when placed at the feet of the great minds from the classics.