Special Education News

Feature stories | March 24, 2011

Overzealous principals are a dime a dozen in the Educational Twilight Zone, but one of them — Gary Williams in Brooklyn’s Borough Park — has really outdone himself. Apparently Williams fancies himself a sort of James Bond, using a motion detector to guard his office, and a hidden camera pencil sharpener, an appropriate choice for the principal of the SEEALL Academy.

New teacher profiles | March 10, 2011

Everyone in the audience at the class play was amazed when a certain little girl said her lines in “Old MacDonald’s Farm.” The child was diagnosed as “selectively mute” on her Individualized Education Program. Indeed, she hardly spoke. So when the 2nd-grader walked to the stage and said, “We are the pigs, we play in the mud and we are very pink,” it was a triumph for the silent, timid child and for her teacher.

New teacher diaries | March 10, 2011

I work in the heart of Flushing, which boasts a large and growing Chinese population. I want my students to feel welcome to share their traditions with the class, and a great way to facilitate this was to plan the biggest Chinese New Year party I could.

Teacher to teacher | February 3, 2011

When I first set eyes upon 12 special-needs children who were to be my summer school class, my gut told me I was never going to last for the six weeks. Each time I turned to the needs of one student, two others behind me screamed and, worse still, hit each other.

Around the UFT | January 20, 2011

A State Education Department official and two members of the Department of Education’s Division of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners answered questions for UFT members at the union’s Special Education Committee Meeting on Dec. 13 at UFT headquarters.

Vperspective | January 20, 2011

We suffered a tough loss in December with the “cost-containment” measures the Regents voted to approve, I have to admit. But are there some victories we can snatch from the jaws of this defeat? You bet!

Around the UFT | December 16, 2010

William E. Grady HS held its first Transition Fair on Nov. 18 to help special education students make the move from school to work or college. Vendors, representatives from industry and colleges and trade schools were on hand to show parents and students the many directions their lives could take after graduation.
 

News stories | November 25, 2010

The UFT debuted a new campaign at the Delegate Assembly on Nov. 17 that aims to ensure not only that special needs children get the services they are mandated to get, but that those services are actually helping them to succeed in school.

Editorials | November 25, 2010

What were they thinking? Save money. At all costs. That’s what drove the State Board of Regents to drop some critical service requirements for children in special education. They call their action “mandate relief,” but we consider it abandonment.
 

News | November 25, 2010

 

Despite months of protest, tens of thousands of letters and e-mails and passionate testimony by parents and educators, the New York State Board of Regents voted on Nov. 16 to implement a series of “cost containment” proposals that will affect some of the most vulnerable students in city schools. 

News | November 17, 2010

Despite months of protest, tens of thousands of letters and e-mails and passionate testimony by parents and educators, the New York State Board of Regents voted on Nov. 16 to implement a series of “cost containment” proposals that affect some of the most vulnerable students.

Around the UFT | November 11, 2010

The new Special Education Community Kitchen at PS 107 in Queens, which had its grand opening on Nov. 3, is one New York eatery destined for success.

National education and labor news | October 14, 2010

Opinions about the burgeoning common academic standards movement and its effect on special-needs students range from the ecstatic to the skeptical. Adopted so far by 36 states and the District of Columbia, the common academic standards are meant to provide clear guideposts for what students at each grade level should know and be able to do.

News stories | September 30, 2010

An ill-conceived proposal from the State Education Department to offer cost-cutting “mandate relief” to state school districts by lowering minimum-service requirements for students with special needs got slammed at a Sept. 16 SED hearing by every one of the 19 witnesses giving testimony. These included UFT Vice President for Special Education Carmen Alvarez, a slew of UFT speech teachers and therapists and several parents and advocates.

Vperspective | September 30, 2010

Braving the tornado and dodging what seemed like each of Brooklyn’s 182 downed trees on the drive over, I addressed the Citywide Council on Special Education on Sept. 16 at MS 51 in Park Slope. I’m glad I did, because that’s a group of parents and guardians of children with disabilities whom the Department of Education should listen to.

News | September 17, 2010

An ill-conceived proposal from the State Education Department to offer cost-cutting “mandate relief” to state school districts by lowering minimum-service requirements for students with special needs got slammed at a Sept. 16 SED hearing by every one of the 19 witnesses giving testimony. These included UFT VP for Special Education Carmen Alvarez, a slew of UFT special education teachers and several parents.

Chapter news | August 5, 2010

We are very pleased to report that in June District 75 school PS 37 in Fresh Kills, Staten Island, was voted America’s Favorite School. PS 37 serves more than 300 students, most of whom are autistic. The honor carries with it a $20,000 prize.

Around the UFT | June 17, 2010

Laura Rodriguez, the Department of Education’s deputy chancellor and chief achievement officer for students with disabilities and English language learners, told UFT members who work with students with special needs that, if successful, implementing a new plan for students with disabilities would add flexibility and greater attention to students’ needs when writing Individualized Education Programs.

News stories | June 17, 2010

More than 70 teachers and related service providers and staff at a privately operated special education school in Brooklyn voted overwhelmingly on May 28 to join the UFT as a new collective-bargaining unit. Employees at the Birch Family Services site, a preschool and Head Start program housed at the Nazareth Early Childhood Center in Canarsie, cast 58 ballots in favor of unionizing and six against.

News stories | June 3, 2010

How can the state justify cutting services when not nearly enough of New York City’s students with disabilities are graduating high school in four years? Instead of focusing on improving outcomes, the state Regents are fixating on controlling costs and reducing service mandates, which the UFT insists — and educators know — are vital to children’s learning.

Vperspective | June 3, 2010

As more light is shed on the education of students with special needs in New York City charter schools, it has become increasingly evident that the Department of Education has flouted the local Freedom of Information Law in an effort to keep from the public view not just a full and accurate picture of the state of special education in charter schools, but also its own egregious failure to provide the most minimal oversight in that field.

News stories | May 27, 2010

The Department of Education released an important memo issued by District 75 Superintendent Bonnie Brown that clarifies two longstanding issues regarding travel time and location of service for related services. According to the memo, travel time may not be included as part of the direct service time for students receiving related services and students with disabilities who receive instruction in special (self-contained) classes may receive related services in a location outside of the special education class.

Around the UFT | May 6, 2010

The fine print is a big help in getting schoolchildren the services they need, which is why the UFT contract is playing a starring role in the union’s Protect the Children campaign. “It is the provisions in the contract that allow us to advocate for children and be treated as professionals,” said Marc Spinrad, leader of the social workers and psychologists chapter at their March 22 meeting at UFT headquarters.

Vperspective | April 1, 2010

It’s amazing what some educated people don’t know about education. Even as the New York tabloids rail against the UFT for fighting to keep community schools open and restricting the number of charter schools until they open their doors wide to special education students and English language learners, the UFT is working with parents and guardians to ensure that attention goes to the kids who need it most.

Union resolutions | March 24, 2010

UFT delegate assembly passed a resolution on the DOE's proposed special education reforms.

National education and labor news | February 18, 2010

New Orleans schools show huge gaps in special-needs children’s enrollment, a recent report to the state board of education found, with the numbers lowest in the independently operated charter schools in the city’s Recovery School District.

News stories | October 15, 2009

While most students with disabilities attend community public schools, some 13 percent of these — those with severe and often multiple disabilities — receive specialized services from District 75 educators. And, often, with great results.

Vperspective | September 17, 2009

Reorganization. It’s become a fall ritual. But don’t panic! Not yet. As far as we know, Tweed is not moving record rooms or eliminating positions.

Union resolutions | March 25, 2009

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