A press release from the Michigan Department of Education is below. Michigan’s new education plan is not yet final. It is a draft. Right now is a time for public comment on the plan. They do want feedback from parents, teachers and all those invested in seeing school children succeed in Michigan.
The draft ESSA plan is available for review and comment at www.michigan.gov/essa. Individuals and organizations are invited to review the plan and submit comments through the following channels:
Be part of the change!
Together we make a difference
LANSING – Following months of public input, the Michigan Department of Education today released the full draft plan for meeting the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The draft plan was detailed at today’s State Board of Education meeting.
Michigan’s Draft Plan is open for a 30-day public comment period, concluding March 16, 2017. Input will continue to be incorporated until the submission of Michigan’s final plan to the U.S. Department of Education in April.
ESSA replaced the No Child Left Behind Act and is scheduled for full implementation during the 2017-18 school year.
“This ESSA plan is a key component of making Michigan a Top 10 education state in 10 years,” said State Superintendent Brian Whiston.
“Educators, parents, legislators and community members across the state devoted significant time and effort over the past several months to help us shape this plan. I appreciate their time, vision, feedback and continued collaboration as we finalize and implement our plan,” Whiston said.
Whiston said the proposed plan has a “whole child” focus; will have less student testing; focuses on student academic growth; institutes a Partnership Model for improving low-performing schools; has a school accountability system tied to the Top 10 in 10 strategies; gives schools more flexibility on how they choose to improve; and gives schools greater ownership in how they follow their own plans.
The Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into federal law on Dec. 10, 2015, replacing the No Child Left Behind Act. This law represents a shift from broad federal oversight of primary and secondary education to greater flexibility and decision-making at the state and local levels. ESSA requires states to develop plans that address standards, assessments, school and district accountability, and special help for struggling schools.
There still is time for the public to weigh in. The draft ESSA plan is available for review and comment at www.michigan.gov/essa. You are invited to review and provide comment on the draft state plan through March 16.
No, it’s not a new movie but it is likely to be an adventure! Next week is the LDA National Conference in Baltimore, MD. Since we’ll be so close, LDA of America’s Policy Director, Myrna Mandlawitz and her team have coordinated a day trip to Washington D.C. for a group of state affiliate leaders to check in with members of Congress. Member Amy Barto will be representing LDA of Michigan as she meets with representatives and senators from Michigan.
We have put together a short survey to gather feedback for her to share so she can speak for as much of Michigan as possible. If you have not taken the survey yet, please do. The more feedback we can get before Monday, February 13 the better we can advocate for Michigan on February 14th!
To Complete the Survey: CLICK HERE
We currently have active members in 12 of Michigan’s 15 Congressional Districts. We’d love to see that be 15 out of 15 as we continue to work to advance the general well-being for individuals with learning disabilities in Michigan and throughout the United States. Become a member today!
U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance on Civil Rights of Students with Disabilities
December 28, 2016
The U.S. Department of Education released three new sets of guidance today to assist the public in understanding how the Department interprets and enforces federal civil rights laws protecting the rights of students with disabilities. These guidance documents clarify the rights of students with disabilities and the responsibilities of educational institutions in ensuring that all students have the opportunity to learn.
The guidance released today includes a parent and educator resource guide; a Dear Colleague letter (DCL) and question and answer document on the use of restraint and seclusion in public schools; and a DCL and question and answer documents on the rights of students with disabilities in public charter schools.
“These guidance documents share information with our full school communities – educators, parents, and students – about important educational rights, including school obligations to identify, evaluate, and serve students with disabilities,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, the Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights. “Vigilant attention to the rights of students with disabilities will help ensure fair treatment for every student and that every student has equal access to educational programs and has an opportunity to experience success.”
The Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools, issued by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), provides a broad overview of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). The guidance describes school districts’ nondiscrimination responsibilities, including obligations to provide educational services to students with disabilities, and outlines the steps parents can take to ensure that their children secure all of the services they are entitled to receive.
Among other things, the Section 504 Parent and Educator Resource Guide:
- Defines and provides examples to illustrate the meaning of key terms used in Section 504.
- Highlights requirements of Section 504 in the area of public elementary and secondary education, including provisions related to the identification, evaluation, and placement of students with disabilities, and procedures for handling disputes and disagreements between parents and school districts.
The second guidance package released by OCR addresses the circumstances under which use of restraint or seclusion can result in discrimination against students with disabilities, in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Department’s May 15, 2012, Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document suggested best practices to prevent the use of restraint or seclusion, recommending that school districts never use physical restraint or seclusion for disciplinary purposes and never use mechanical restraint, and that trained school officials use physical restraint or seclusion only if a child’s behavior poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others. The DCL and question and answer document released today offer additional information about the legal limitations on use of restraint or seclusion to assist school districts in meeting their obligations to students with disabilities.
The third guidance package released today was developed by OCR and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). The jointly-issued Dear Colleague Letter and question and answer documents will help update educators, parents, students, and other stakeholders to better understand the rights of students with disabilities in public charter schools under Section 504 and IDEA. These documents provide information about how to provide equal opportunity in compliance with Section 504 in key areas such as charter school recruitment, application, admission, enrollment and disenrollment, accessibility of facilities and programs, and nonacademic and extracurricular activities. The documents are responsive to the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s 2012 report, Charter Schools: Additional Federal Attention Needed to Help Protect Access for Students with Disabilities, which included the recommendation that the Department issue updated guidance on the obligations of charter schools.
“It is critical to ensure that children with disabilities have access to a free appropriate public education in charter schools,” said Sue Swenson, delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of the Department’s assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services. “These guidance documents are designed to support states, local education agencies, and charter school personnel to understand their responsibilities under IDEA and Section 504.”
- Explains that charter school students with disabilities (and those seeking to attend) have the same rights under Section 504 and Title II of the ADA as other public school students with disabilities.
- Details the Section 504 right to nondiscrimination in recruitment, application, and admission to charter schools.
- Clarifies that during the admission process a charter school generally may not ask a prospective student if he or she has a disability.
- Reminds charter schools, other entities, and parents that charter school students with disabilities have the right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under Section 504.
- Emphasizes that children with disabilities who attend charter schools and their parents retain all rights and protections under Part B of IDEA (such as FAPE) just as they would at other public schools.
- Provides that under IDEA a charter school may not unilaterally limit the services that must be provided a particular student with a disability.
- Reminds schools that the least restrictive environment provisions require that, to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities attending public schools, including public charter schools, be educated with students who are nondisabled.
- Clarifies that students with disabilities attending charter schools retain all IDEA rights and protections included in the IDEA discipline procedures.
In addition to these documents, the Department also released a Know Your Rights document designed for parents to provide a brief overview of the rights of public charter school students with disabilities and the legal obligations of charter schools under Section 504 and the IDEA.
The mission of OCR is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights. Among the federal civil rights laws OCR is responsible for enforcing are Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and Title II of the ADA. The mission of OSERS is to improve early childhood, educational, and employment outcomes and raise expectations for all people with disabilities, their families, their communities, and the nation. OSERS is responsible for administering the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA).
For more information about OCR and the anti-discrimination laws that it enforces, please visit its website and follow OCR on twitter @EDcivilrights. For more information about OSERS and IDEA, please visit its website and follow OSERS on twitter @ed_sped_rehab.
Have questions about this or other topics related to learning disabilities in Michigan? Share them on twitter to @LDAmichigan or on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/LDAmichigan/!
We are excited to announce the Slate of Officers up for election to the LDA of Michigan Board of Directors!
Co-Presidents: Crystal Young, Ph.D & Lisa Woodcock-Burroughs, Ph.D
Secretary: Julie Bowers-Stohl
Treasurer: Debra Houde
To 3-Year Position: Erin Rooney
Because this has been a year of rebuilding and refocusing our efforts and resource, we will not be having a physical Annual Meeting with all of our membership. We are presenting this slate electronically for feedback from membership. Current members have received the ballot and update in an email message. It will have been a Survey Monkey based message.
If you are a current member and would rather vote online right now, click this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2RJ2ZM6.
Voting will be open until Tuesday, December 13.
Not a current member? Join today at LDA America!
This week, a Grand Rapids news station aired a story sharing a warning about Halloween makeup.
A recent study done by the Breast Cancer Fund analyzed a variety of Halloween makeup kits from across the country — makeup marketed to kids.
Of the nearly 48 makeup palettes it tested, the group found at least one toxic heavy metal in nearly half of them. (view the story here)
The scariest thing about Halloween shouldn’t be toxic metals in your child’s facepaint. You might think, “This is 2016. We know better than to put toxic materials in kids’ paint!”, right? Wrong.
What to do? Not to worry! LDA America’s Healthy Children Project has been working on this for a while. We have resources for you so your children can have a fun but non-toxic Halloween!
Recipe: 10 tsp cornstarch, 2 tsp white flour, 5 tsp vegetable shortening and 1/4 tsp vegetable glycerin. Mash together with a fork until the mixture balls up. Once this is mixed together, you can add a bit more glycerin as needed. This will make a white base. Separate into different white blobs and add the necessary color. I’ve made a tan (for a lion or cat) using some water collected from coffee crystals. This mixture is relatively “pasty” and will not give you clean lines, but it works.
Another option is to add basically equally parts lotion and cornstarch. ex: 1 tblsp baby lotion and 1 tblsp cornstarch. The white made with lotion will still be a little translucent, but if you make colors, it will give you cleaner lines, particularly if you use a cosmetic brush to paint.
Another recipe is 3 tblsp cornstarch, 1 tblsp flour, 1/4 cup water and 3/4 cup corn syrup (light). The corn syrup makes this sweet, so it may be too attractive for little ones. To make this, add the cornstarch and flour in a bowl. Stir in the corn syrup and water until smooth. Once it is mixed together, divide as needed and add colors. NOTE: Homemade doesn’t have consistency of store bought but with homemade, you know what is in and you know there is no heavy metals or other toxic chemicals.
Use aloe vera gel (you can get at almost any natural food store), and mix in some fine glitter. This should be kept away from the eyes. Alternatively, use mineral makeup.
Use light corn syrup, a dash of castile liquid soap (to make clean easier), and red coloring. Easiest to use is red food color. If you want darker blood or more realistic blood, add a dash of blue or some chocolate syrup.
(Wounds, Warts, and More): You can use edible goop to make scars, warts, wounds, etc.
To 1 oz. gelatin (not Jello, but plain, unflavored old-fashioned gelatin, usu. located right next to the Jello), add 2 tablespoons boiling water and stir, let sit for 3 minutes. As you stir, the gelatin will dissolve. Tip: The gelatin doesn’t smell all that great, so you can add 2 to 4 drops of an essential oil if your child doesn’t like the smell. If you do add an essential oil, make sure it is suitable for skin contact.
Then pour mixture onto natural waxed paper or other surface. You need to shape the gelatin to make what you want – a wart, a scar, whatever. You need to work fairly quickly, particularly if you are going to mix in some color.The picture on the right is what the gelatin looks like when poured on natural waxed paper.
Add in what you need to create the effect that you want. If you want a wound, add some red coloring. If you want the wound to look old, consider adding some chocolate syrup. If you want a witch’s wart, add some green coloring and perhaps some hair (some bristles from a brush perhaps). For a ghoulish effect, add cornstarch or flour. For a swamp thing, perhaps dill weed or tarragon. For dead skin, add oatmeal. Get creative! For the leech looking effect below, I added some instant coffee crystals and some brown coloring from water added to coffee crystals.
Let your creation cool and gently peel off the waxed paper. Once dry, adhere using corn syrup – you just need to let the corn syrup dry. These look best made the same day that you are going to wear them – they dry out and shrink a bit.
For cleanup of your bowl, just peel the gelatin out – it will all stick together. If some gets stuck, just use hot water to dissolve it a bit to get the dish clean.
Facepaint tips thanks to The Smart Mama: www.thesmartmama.com/?s=Halloween
Some creative ways to deal with all that Halloween candy: specialchildren.about.com/od/halloween/tp/usingcandy.htm
A BOOklists for Halloween like this one: www.readingrockets.org/articles/books/c361
Download a full list of Halloween Tips from LDA of America halloween-tips
(visit NCLD’s site directly to listen to this news)
The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) announced today that they will be offering scholarships for graduating high school seniors once again this year, with two big changes.
First, the eligibility requirements for the Anne Ford and the Allegra Ford Thomas scholarships have been broadened: students who have ADHD and not a learning disability (LD) are now eligible to apply. Beginning this year, students with ADHD will be able to apply regardless of their LD status.
“We made this change to reflect our mission to support all students with learning and attention issues. NCLD is pleased to expand the eligibility criteria beyond those who struggle with just LD,” said Dr. Sheldon Horowitz, NCLD’s senior director of learning resources and research. “Individuals with LD and ADHD often face very similar challenges. We’re confident that opening the award to greater numbers of applicants will help us showcase the potential and achievements of young adults as they transition to college and other postsecondary settings.”
In addition, the application process is now easier than ever. Students can apply for this year’s scholarships online, with no mail-in component.
The online application will allow students to monitor the status of their submission, request letters of recommendation by email, and get support from the accessibility features that the application portal provides.
Students can submit applications beginning August 1, 2016. All applications and supporting materials must be received by November 13, 2016.
To learning more about the scholarships visit ncld.org/scholarships-and-awards.
New York, NY (July 1, 2016) – An unprecedented alliance of leading scientists, health professionals, and children’s health advocates agree for the first time that today’s scientific evidence supports a link between exposures to toxic chemicals in food, air and everyday products and children’s risks for neurodevelopmental disorders. The alliance, known as Project TENDR, is calling for immediate action to significantly reduce exposures to toxic chemicals to protect brain development for today’s and tomorrow’s children.
Neurodevelopmental disorders include intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficits, hyperactivity, and other maladaptive behaviors, and learning disabilities. Project TENDR’s consensus statement can be found here.
Prime examples of the chemicals and pollutants that are contributing to children’s learning, intellectual and behavioral impairment include:
“This is truly an historic agreement. Ten years ago, this consensus wouldn’t have been possible, but the scientific research is now abundantly clear: toxic chemicals are harming our children’s brain development,” said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, environmental epidemiologist at UC Davis and TENDR Co-Director. “As a society, we can eliminate or significantly lower these toxic chemical exposures and address inadequate regulatory systems that have allowed their proliferation. These steps can, in turn, reduce high rates of neurodevelopmental disorders.”
“This national problem is so pressing that the TENDR scientists and health professionals will continue their collaboration to develop and issue recommendations aimed at significantly reducing exposures to toxic chemicals that are harming children’s brain development,” says Maureen Swanson, with the Learning Disabilities Association of America and TENDR Co-Director. “Calling for further study is no longer a sufficient response to this threat.”
Read coverage of the announcement in The New York Times.
“Hi. It’s Flo.” For anyone who had met Flo, you knew that message meant you had been contacted by the LDA of Michigan. There was no question of “Flo who?”. There was also no question of whether or not you would return said phone call. You would. It was Flo. The Flo Curtis.
Florence Curtis was a founding member of LDA of Michigan and worked tirelessly to secure a productive and vibrant future for our state affiliate. While Flo was generally content working behind the scenes to make sure everyone and everything was cared for, she was a force known throughout Michigan (and beyond!). Flo devoted the majority of her life to understanding, advocating, and legislating for individuals with learning disabilities and was honored to be the very first recipient of the Learning Disabilities Association of America’s Volunteer of the Year award.
As a former Special Education Teacher, Flo valued education and strongly believed in continuing education opportunities for all teachers. This belief was seen consistently in all she did at LDA of Michigan, but in particular, through her work with the LDA of Michigan Annual Conference held each year at the Kellogg Center on the campus at Michigan State University (MSU). Over the years, Flo ensured that students in the MSU Special Education program had opportunities to attend and learn at conference. She worked with faculty and advisors at MSU to provide varied volunteer opportunities for MSU students such as assisting at registration, introducing speakers and welcoming participants. Flo was committed to ensuring that these students not only had opportunities for learning at the conference, but had opportunities to connect with leaders in education throughout the nation through LDA of America. Because of Flo’s efforts, generations of new educators were better prepared to enter the classroom.
Though we lost Flo in October of 2012, we at LDA of Michigan have worked to ensure her legacy will live on. Through donations and hard work, LDA of Michigan has established the LDA of Michigan Flo Curtis Special Education Endowment at Michigan State University. This endowment provides two scholarships each year, in addition to supplemental funding for the MSU Education Internship Seminar Program. As a result, the MSU Education Program will be able to fund speakers and materials to support interns in special education program placements during their 5th year. The Flo Curtis Special Education Endowment will help strengthen generations of new educators just as Flo always worked to do. Download as a pdf here: The Flo Curtis Special Education Endowment at MSU doc
At LDA of Michigan, we have been at work to advocate for the children of Flint through LDA and the Healthy Children Project. Below is a letter of action most recently published. You can also download a pdf of this letter here: LetterToTheEditor_FlintMI_012716
January 27, 2016
Letter to the Editor
The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) shares the distress of parents and professionals across the country over the situation in Flint, Michigan. The damage that has been done, and will continue to be done, by the contaminated water supply of Flint, is of immediate concern.
Given the urgency surrounding the children diagnosed with elevated lead levels from the drinking water in Flint, Michigan and our long-time interest in the effects of toxins on children and pregnant women, LDA would like to share information about the relationship between lead exposure and learning disabilities.
A fresh water supply with high levels of lead can cause neurological damage leading to learning disabilities, lowered IQs, and behavioral problems. Scientists agree that there is no safe level of lead exposure for children. Recent studies show that learning and behavior deficits occur in children even at very low levels of lead exposure, and that these deficits persist. In addition to learning disabilities, lead exposure can cause intellectual impairment, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and behavior problems. According to LDA’s Healthy Children Project, scientists link low levels of lead exposure in toddlers to declines in math and reading test scores when the children reach elementary school.
A learning disability is a neurological condition that interferes with an individual’s ability to store, process, or produce information. Learning disabilities can affect one’s ability to read, write, speak, spell, compute math, reason and also affect an individual’s attention, memory, coordination, social skills and emotional maturity.
Learning disabilities will differ from child to child and person to person. They will not all look and act the same. For example, some students will have difficulty learning to read, others will struggle with math, some people may misinterpret or have difficulty remembering oral directions, and others may have trouble interpreting nonverbal cues like facial expressions or body language.
It’s clear that the most immediate priority is the health of the children. Testing for lead poisoning and, if needed, the removal of lead from their bodies is the absolute first priority. However, the State of Michigan and the City of Flint must recognize that this is only the first step on the long road to mitigating the impact of this problem. As stated previously, evidence strongly suggests that many of these children will have some form of a learning disability and/or neurological impairment (LD/NI). Therefore, the Learning Disabilities Association of America is strongly recommending that any intermediate and long-term plan dealing with this health crisis needs to contain the following:
This needs to be a long-term commitment because learning disabilities do not go away.
As an organization that has worked for over 50 years with families of children diagnosed with learning disabilities, the Learning Disabilities Association of America can offer information about types of learning disabilities and early signs, assessment and evaluation to identify learning disabilities, special education services, legislation, advocacy, issues faced by adults with LD, and other resources.
We invite you to visit our website at LDAAmerica.org.
Learning Disabilities Association of America
We are excited to share that our friend, Rick Lavoie, is coming back to Michigan this March! He will be the keynote speaker for the Michigan Reading Association’s 2016 Pre-Conference which will focus on supporting children with learning disabilities in the Language Arts classrooms.
Those of you who attended the LDA of Michigan conferences in the past may recognize a few of our very own, such as Dr. James Grant, Nanette Clatterbuck and Amy Barto. There will also be sessions with other local experts such as Dr. Joanne Pierson, Stephanie Cork, and Heidi Turchan.
Session topics will include strategies related to multisensory reading and writing, assessment of reading comprehension difficulties, preparing students with reading disabilities for post-secondary success, strategies for reading writing in the co-taught classroom, phonological awareness and remediation at the secondary level.
The 2016 MRA Conference continues over Saturday and Sunday and includes a special focus on Early Childhood topics on Monday, March 21. Monday’s conference day also includes free registration for parents!