[nfbmi-talk] would impact blind, multiply disabled kids here too
joe harcz Comcast
joeharcz at comcast.net
Mon Feb 6 11:13:37 CST 2012
But there are more things in this story including some conflicts of interests with MCB/New Horizons and Macomb ISD's Beth Alberti not referenced here....Remember she is on the Board of New Horizons along with McNeal and she recently got through the Macomb ISD's cash match signed by McNeal for MCB's transition services....
Yet I do agree with her about the proposed legislation and it would negatively impact our blind youth here, and most especially those with significant disabilities in addition to blindness. We already have too many holes in having qualified personnell educating our kids and don't need to add more to that....
VOICES OF DISABILITY: Educational programs for severely disabled face threat
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012
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By Jerry Wolfe
For The Daily Tribune
The mother of a severely disabled daughter is “scared to death” that educational programs for disabled students in Michigan will be gutted by a measure
in the works by a House Republican lawmaker.
The legislation in the draft stage being worked on by Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville, will eliminate all state protections for families and disabled children,
advocates for the disabled say.
It will require “no standards, no certifications and no guidelines for those people put in charge of handling the special needs of children and students
who are disabled,” said attorney Richard Bernstein of Farmington Hills.
The measure also would “take away special education teachers from their jobs by allowing for anyone to be put in charge of teaching,” he added.
If the draft evolves into legislation and is passed into law, it would cut special education services to students with disabilities after the age of 21
if they received any high school credit, said Bernstein and Beth Alberti, the assistant superintendent of special education and student services for the
Macomb Intermediate School District.
Agema said Friday there is no timetable to finish writing the legislation or introducing it in the state House.
He said if severely disabled students between the ages of 22 and 26 “can be served without having to use expensive teachers with special outcomes, we’re
going to look into this.”
“We’re trying to find an appropriate placement for these individuals,” said Agema, who is in his fifth year in the House.
“If they can be served at a cheaper price in the K-12 education system with an equal outcome or better, that’s what we should be doing,” Agema said.
He noted that teachers with advanced degrees who earn “$60,000 or $70,000” a year often teach special education students between ages of 22 to 26.
“Is this the place where a 22-year-old or 26-year-old should be if they are being taught to comb their hair?” he said. “We’re exploring better options with
the Michigan Education Association, Community Mental Health, school superintendents and parents.”
Providing education to students with severe disabilities until age 26 also attracts such students to come to Michigan, he said, and is a “huge drain” on
the budgets of K-12 districts.
Shelley Petty and her husband, Jeremy, have a daughter, Hailey, 10, who was born with Rett Syndrome. Hailey is nonverbal, uses a wheelchair and needs “100
She currently attends a special ed school, Glen Peters in Macomb, and is doing well, her mother said.
Parents and advocates fear changing current educational rights of severely disabled students will basically eliminate their chance of an appropriate public
It took until 1973 for the federal government to require local school districts to provide an education to children with disabilities.
At that time, the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and the Free Appropriate Public Education Act guaranteed an education for disabled students and accommodations
they might need.
“I think this is horrendous,” said Petty, referring to changing current teaching methods for severely disabled students in the older age group.
“For us and all parents, it’s a very scary situation,” added Petty, who also has 2 1/2-year-old twins, Justin and Joslyn.
“If this becomes law, there’s a good chance we won’t have the technological accommodations that my daughter will need,” she said.
Hailey uses an augmented communication device and has two parapros that help her during her school day. She and all disabled students have an Individualized
Education Program, which sets out specific annual goals for her.
There are tens of thousands of students with disabilities in Macomb and Oakland County schools, said Alberti of Rochester Hills.
“If we are not able to pay special education teachers, OTs and PTs, we’ll just be warehousing kids,” said Alberti.
“We don’t need to create another system for another four years,” she said referring to disabled students between the ages of 22 and 26. Michigan is one
of a handful of states that requires students with disabilities to receive an education until age 26.
Under changes outlined in the draft, a special education teacher would not be required to head a classroom for disabled students between the ages of 22
Classrooms can be headed by any teacher or a college student, several sources said.
“It can just be anyone in charge of the classroom and that’s appalling to me,” said Petty. “The word about this is just coming out and we, as parents, want
this to stop. We don’t want to have the draft to go any farther.”
The argument for changing current provisions in education for the disabled is that it will save money.
However, how can we let our lawmakers eliminate inclusive education in the least restrictive environment to students with disabilities who just might be
the most vulnerable people in our society?
The fact is we shouldn’t, and any such proposals should be used to start a fire on a chilly winter’s night.
Contact Jerry Wolffe at 248-745-4612 or
jerry.wolffe at oakpress.com
or follow him on Twitter @JerryWolffe1 or on Facebook. Keep up with the latest in local news by texting OPNews to 22700. Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Text
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