Thursday, March 17, 2011
It's an absolute honor to be here tonight, and I know our time is short, and I don't want to stand between you and dinner, so I'm going to get right to the point. In order to win the future, as President Obama has challenged us, we must enable every single American to reach their potential, and in my book, all means all. Every child, regardless of income, race, background, or disability can learn and must learn, and our system of education and our system of education, spread across 50 states, 15,000 school districts, and 95,000 schools, must embrace this core belief every day in every way possible.
That's why our administration strongly supports subgroup accountability in No Child Left Behind. This is one thing that No Child Left Behind got absolutely right. Thanks to NCLB, America can no longer ignore those insidious achievement gaps. We can no longer celebrate the success of one group of students if another group of students is still struggling. We have to be open and honest about where we fall short.
But we also have to be much more thoughtful about how to address our education system's shortcomings, and this is what NCLB got wrong. The law mandates one-size-fits-all solutions, no matter what the size or the scope of the challenge. We all know that Washington cannot dictate solutions to schools at the local level. Instead, we must empower local educators to tailor remedies to the students most at risk. And then we'll hold them accountable. We'll demand that every school, district, and state take full responsibility for every single student and focus on closing achievement gaps instead of merely identifying them.
We have to stop admiring the problem. We will also encourage the kind of best practices that we know are most effective, and at the top of that list of best practices is one simple word: inclusion, and by extension, holding students with disabilities to the same high expectations as everybody else. We know, we absolutely know, that when we keep expectations high, students with disabilities excel.
Just yesterday I was at Beers Elementary School here in D.C., which has done an extraordinary job at inclusion. Their philosophy there is as profound as it is simple. They told me repeatedly that they're preparing all their students for success in one society, not a general ed society and not a special ed one. That world simply doesn't exist.
For too long, the answer to educating students with disabilities was to isolate them and to deny them the same educational experiences that others were having, and thankfully, those days are over. The fact is 60% of our students with disabilities spend 80% of their time in the regular school environment. That's real progress, and there's absolutely no reason that those numbers should not continue to rise as more and more teachers know how to effectively work with students with disabilities. All teachers--all teachers--must be equipped with those skills. At the same time, all of the other important indicators for students with disabilities are rising, from student achievement to high-school graduation to college enrollment rates.
As a country, we are doing a much better job today of serving students with disabilities. Meanwhile, the vast majority of students with disabilities are also part of the same accountability system as everyone else, and that's the way it should be.
I want to say here and now for the record that we are moving away from the 2% rule. We will not issue another policy that allows districts to disguise the educational performance of 2% of students. That's unacceptable, and that must change. We have to expect the very best from our students and to tell the truth about student performance so that we can give all students the supports and the services they need.
And if you look at our 2012 budget proposal and our blueprint for rewriting the federal K-12 education law, it's pretty clear where we stand. We want to boost funding for students with disabilities by $200 million, even in these fiscally challenging times. We also want to increase funding by $50 million for infants and toddlers with disabilities.
We want to protect critical programs serving students with disabilities, including preschool grants, national activity funds, vocational rehabilitation programs, national dissemination and research grants, and supports for institutions serving students with disabilities. We want to fund innovative new research programs to help provide people with disabilities who need accommodations with on-demand access to those accommodations any time, any place there's an Internet connection. We also want to continue to support young people with disabilities as they transition to college and the workforce. Students with disabilities, like everyone else, must be college- and career-ready because we know that the good jobs of the future will require more than a high-school diploma. And when they have the education they need to succeed, they will be self-sufficient and be able to live independent lifestyles.
I want to thank our business partners here today, but it's just so important that we assure all of our workplaces welcome everyone. You understand that the best companies draw on the widest range of skills and talents available. Back in Chicago I have some wonderful partnerships with businesses that made it their business to hire my students with disabilities, and we can't do enough to celebrate them. Please give our business partners another round of applause.
Finally, personally, I want to do a much better job of talking about students and people with disabilities, and this is where I know that I have not always met your expectations. Too often, in the everyday churn of activities, I have overlooked one segment of the student population as I have talked about another one. I talk about students in poverty. I talk about children of color, English-language learners, the homeless, and children who live in rural or remote communities, and sometimes I know I don't talk enough about students with disabilities, and people might wonder if I understand the barriers facing students with disabilities in the classroom and in the workforce, and that's when I think back to my mother's tutoring program in a church basement on the south side of Chicago. I spent almost every afternoon of my childhood in that tutoring program with her. My friends were poor children, all African American, and many of them unable to read when they showed up at her door. Back then, fewer children were being diagnosed with ADD or dyslexia. We didn't have all the resources and supports that thankfully exist today. But we understood something much more basic, much more fundamental: we understood that there was no barrier to learning that we cannot overcome.
There is no disability that is bigger or more powerful than our collective will, and there's no greater hunger than the hunger of a child to learn, and that has nothing to do with disabilities, with race, or with poverty. We're all born with it, we all share it, we all want it, and we all can and must get it. In later years, those students and students like them got the resources and supports they needed--books and accommodation and better technology and better-trained teachers, and they also got the time to learn in their own way, and every single one of them learned. They met our highest of expectations, and many of them went on to do great things. Whether it was the children I grew up tutoring or whether it was relatives and cousins, I was lucky enough to grow up with children who every single day were beating the odds. Witnessing those daily struggles and the tenacity and the courage necessary to overcome them shaped me. We have to have the highest of expectations for every child in every classroom across the country.
That's the understanding we bring to our work in reauthorizing federal laws impacting people with disabilities. Whether it's ESEA, IDEA, the Workforce Investment Act, or the Americans with Disabilities Act, please know that the Obama administration stands with you and that I will remain your champion, your advocate, and your servant. Please know that I will always challenge myself and my team to measure our collective success in terms of all children, not some children, and all people, not just some people. Equality and inclusion are at the heart of the American ideal. They represent our common hopes, our deepest aspirations, and our best values. So I thank you so much for your time tonight. I thank you even more for holding me and others accountable for our words and our actions, and most importantly, I thank you for the hard work you're doing every single day on behalf of America's children and adults with disabilities. Because of you, literally--literally--millions and millions of people with disabilities will reach their full potential, and therefore America will reach hers. Thank you so much and have a great evening.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan vowed Tuesday to abolish the so-called "2 percent proxy rule" that obscures an accurate portrait of the academic needs of America's students with disabilities.
In prepared remarks to the American Association of People with Disabilities gala in Washington, Duncan declared that students with disabilities should be judged with the same accountability system as everyone else.
"I just want to say -- here and now - for the record -- we are moving away from the 2 percent proxy rule," Duncan said. "We will not issue another policy that allows districts to disguise the educational performance of 2 percent of students."
Instead, he said, "We have to expect the very best from our students -- and tell the truth about student performance -- so that we can give all students the supports and services they need."
Since 2005, the Education Department has used its regulatory authority to permit states and local school districts to effectively shield certain test scores of students with disabilities when determining adequate yearly progress (AYP) under the No Child Left Behind Act.
Specifically, proficient scores for up to 2 percent of all students in the grades assessed can be reported using alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards, and states without appropriate alternate assessments have been allowed for purposes of AYP to use a proxy -- counting as proficient the scores of that 2 percent of students, regardless of how they actually performed.
That proxy has masked the kind of information that educators need in order to identify areas that can be targeted with resources to help students with disabilities achieve their academic potential.
While the Department will continue to allow states with approved alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards to use these assessments consistent with the regulation until the development of new, improved assessments, it will no longer permit the use of the proxy rule.
The secretary pledged to maintain the "highest expectations for every child in every classroom today. That's the understanding we bring to our work in reauthorizing federal laws impacting people with disabilities."
"Whether it's the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Workforce Investment Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act," Duncan said, "the Obama administration stands with you and I remain your champion, your advocate and your servant."
He added, "Please know that I will always challenge myself and others to measure our success in terms of all children -- not some children -- and all people -- not just some people. Equality and inclusion are at the heart of the American ideal. They represent our common hopes, our highest aspirations and our deepest values."
Monday, September 20, 2010
I am now a full time college student and I absolutely love it! I’m taking a Math, English, an Intro to Political Science class and a history class. I love history...it’s always been a favorite subject of mine. My major is Political Science and I’ve started a Disabled Student Alliance at my college which is so exciting. I’m also continuing my work on the Disability History Week Campaign. We’re in the implementation stage and since California is such a big state we’re starting small and we’ll get bigger each year. I’ve met some pretty incredible professors. Some of which I don’t even have. My biggest advice for college freshmen is talk to every professor you can. Network like crazy! You’ll meet professors that are really amazing. Some of them are reading this shout out! Also always stay ahead. I “tried” procrastination.......never again! Next month will be crazy. I’m traveling non-stop, which is why staying ahead and on top of everything is so important. Things happen for reasons we don’t see at first. For example, I was placed in an English class before 100, which is the transfer level. For me I personally, I think I should be in English 100 because this class is too easy. Even though I feel like I'm in the wrong class, I love the professor, so I’m happy to be there. Another example of this is while I was walking to the bus stop the week I started at my college. I met the Ethno Studies teacher. He has been a very big help and motivator for me. All my professors are really supportive of what I do. I love my college. It’s filled with great professors and staff. Seeing the sun everyday helps too. My life has changed so much. College is amazing. I feel like I’ve finally found where I’m supposed to be. I will put another post up about Syria but I’ll quickly mention it here. It was beyond words. Amazing and life changing to say the least. I am now planning on learning Arabic. Back to college life, in the month I have been there I have gotten everything set up with the Disabled Student Program and Services (DSPS), Extended Opportunities Programs and Services (EOPS). DSPS provides the accommodations I need for example I use a pulse smart pen in class which records audio of what I write on paper and gives me a copy through the computer. For more information go to HYPERLINK "http://www.liverscribe.com" . I also take notes on my computer, get extra time on my tests and have them scanned into Kursweil. Which is a program I use to read. It reads the words to me and highlights each one. Which helps me learn through my dyslexia and my visual impairment. For more information go to www.kurzweiledu.com/ . I also was asked by DSPS to start a club for disabled students, which of course I accepted. So now I am President of the Disabled Student Alliance. I just got an internship at an Independent Living Center which I am really looking forward to! My classes are all ready interesting. I am also planning on studying aboard next summer, which will be a challenge since I need to raise 7,000 dollars to go.....not including the classes. I am applying for scholarships like crazy! In my next post I will write about my amazing experience in Syria!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
You can do it if you put your mind to it
I have neglected this blog for far too long. Let me catch you up on this past year. I started a second senior year. There was a credit situation where the private school I had gone to before transferring had not given me my freshman and sophomore credits. So even though I had passed all the required senior classes the year before, I had to make up the deficient credits. Over the summer of '09, I had also taken 2 community college classes...an art history course worth 3 units and an assistive technology Kurzweil class worth one unit. In all of my life I had never crossed a stage and received a diploma this includes kindergarten, 5th grade, & eighth grade. I was given the option on numerous occasions to “test out” or get a GED. Needless to say I declined. I have dreamt about going to a good university all my life. I wanted to use my services and I didn’t want to have anything less than my diploma. I have never not done something because it was hard. If I really wanted it in my heart I did what it took to get it. So even though I was missing more than 30 credits I was determined to reach my goal. I enrolled in 2 summer classes and when I started school inquired about why I was not invited to join a college class to help Latinas get into college and maintain a high GPA. I got into the class, stayed and received 3 college units for each semester. 1 college unit is worth 3 high school credits. I also enrolled in .5 unit classes for 8 Saturdays. They were psychology classes. 8 hours long and very boring. I only missed one class due to being sick one Saturday. The fall semester was not fun for me at all. I see it as a test of will and perseverance. I had no time for myself. I had also joined a club at my school that was mandatory in order to go on a trip that is called Sojourn to the Past. I’ll get to that later. So my schedule at the time looked like this. I went to high school took my 6 required classes and two days a week stayed for the college success class. Then one or two Saturdays a month I went to the .5 unit class. It was around November when I joined the Disability History Week Campaign in my state. After winter vacation I arrived at high school exhausted but ready to continue. I had finished the hardest part of that year and had as been told that I was chosen to join an advisory board for a state grant and the first meeting was expected at the end of the month and I was expected to attend a week long conference leading up to the meeting which was fine. I was looking forward to it. I ended the month of January working hard to pass my algebra class and having a pretty easy time with the other 5 high school courses. I had also signed up for the college career class again. Math has been my worst subject since getting sick and missing a lot of the base in algebra. I had the best teacher teaching me. I had met her and the way she taught benefited me and I believed that I needed to be in her class. The meeting had gone well and I was excited to have a job at a state grant and was glad the school year was almost over. February came around and I was really tired of going to my high school classes but my goal was in reach. I believe it was in the month of February that I applied to be a counselor at Outdoor Education. This is a program that teaches fifth and sixth graders about science and the importance of the environment. It was a month before I was scheduled to leave on The Sojourn trip which was a trip in which you retrace the steps of the civil rights movement. During this trip, you would go to Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee, visit museums and meet people that were part of the civil rights movement or their families. (For more information please go to sojournproject.com) It was an amazing trip and I learned so much. That trip was honestly life changing. When I got back I heard from the campaign that they wanted me and other youth organizers to start giving presentations in our schools. So I gave a presentation to the History and English departments at my school and in May to the School Board. By this time my excused absences were mounting and I was making sure I went to the classes I could. I get sick quite often because of the effects of my chemotherapy treatments. In May a month away from Graduation I went to outdoor Ed as a counselor and was in charge of 12 ten year old boys Not the easiest thing. Besides the job having been extremely physically demanding. (hiking and walking) I quickly found that I was grateful to only have one brother. That was a great learning experience. Once I arrived back at home I was ecstatic that I only had a month left until graduation! I received an email about a summit to be held in Damascus the capital of Syria a country in the Middle East. Without hesitation I went home and filled out the application. At the end of the application I was told I would hear back on graduation day whether I got in or not. My reaction my thought would be well that’s really going to mess me up if I don’t get in on graduation day. Finals came around. The seniors took their finals a week early. I passed all of them but math. But I had worked to have a good grade until then so I was safe. So graduation practice was expected for 5 days before the actual ceremony which would be at night on the last day of school. Let me just say that graduation practice kills any excitement you have about the actual ceremony. I was very sick during finals and the practice. I did manage to make it to all my finals and practices. If I hadn’t I wouldn’t have graduated on stage....but I did. During the entire ceremony I was thinking, “I stayed an extra year to graduate on stage? The diploma was worth the diploma but this?” Well I graduated on stage and got my diploma so it was worth all the blood sweat and tears. I learned a few days after graduation that I was chosen for the Summit in Syria!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Flawed FBI reporting system undercounts disability hate crimes
18 December 2002
By Kathleen Maclay
The author of a new report, "Don't Ask, Tell or Respond: Silent Acceptance of Disability Hate Crimes," Sherry says those numbers are ludicrously low and calls hate crimes against disabled people "cellophane crimes."
People walk right through them, look right through them, and never know they are there," said Sherry, the Ed Roberts Post-Doctoral Fellow in UC Berkeley's fledgling Disabilities Studies program. Ed Roberts was the first student with significant disabilities to enroll at UC Berkeley and he pioneered the university's disabled students program. He helped establish the Center for Independent Living, was president of the World Institute on Disability, and served as director of California's Department of Rehabilitation.
Under the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990, the FBI has been required since 1997 to collect data on disability hate crimes. The bureau reports that, of 44,265 hate crimes recorded from 1997-2001, some 133 - less than one-half of one percent - were against the disabled.
FBI data "suggests that less than one in a million disabled people can expect to be the victim of a disability hate crime in any year," Sherry writes in his report.
Yet even the most notorious disability bias crime in U.S. history - the 1999 kidnap and torture of cognitively disabled Eric Krochmaluk of Middletown, N.J. - was not reported in the FBI data, he said. The incident was the first disability hate crime to go to trial in the U.S.
"It's no surprise that hate crimes are underreported, but the disparity between reporting disability hate crimes and other crimes is staggering," said Jack Glaser, assistant professor at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy. "According to Mark's analysis, disability hate crimes are not just underreported, they are virtually unreported. The number of media stories outnumber the statistics."
Glaser, whose research specialties include hate crimes and stereotyping, said one clear reason for this underreporting "is the likely perception, by law enforcement agents, policy makers, and perhaps victims, as well, that people with disabilities are attacked not because of hate so much as vulnerability."
"This is why Mark's distinction between hate crimes and bias crimes is important, although I suspect many analysts would be uncomfortable with giving up the prejudice (hate) component of the definition of hate crimes," said Glaser.
Sherry notes in his report that the FBI defines physical and mental disability bias as a "preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons based on physical or mental impediments or challenges, whether such disabilities are congenital or acquired by heredity, accident, injury, advanced age or illness."
Hate crimes attack the rights and freedoms of individuals while underscoring a lack of safety for many people in minority communities. The intention is to hurt and intimidate because of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin or disability, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Ultimately, Sherry said, bias crimes and hate crimes are the same.
Fewer than 2,000 of 17,000 eligible law enforcement agencies have filed a report on any type of hate crime at all, he said, despite research that reflects a high rate of crime against the disabled and a high level of disability discrimination. For example, he said, a study of deaf youth found 54 percent of deaf boys and 50 percent of deaf girls are sexually abused.
Sherry said disability hate crimes are underreported due to systemic problems that include a lack of awareness, understanding and training on the part of law enforcement personnel. The voluntary nature of the reporting and the varying time limits for reporting further cloud the issue, he said.
Sherry also found that police and prosecutors often abandon the hate crime element in a case and instead call it vandalism, assault or theft. He said police may doubt they can prove the offender discriminated in the selection of his or her disabled victim. So, instead, officers file charges for an accompanying crime such as assault.
Also, Sherry said, a crime victim's disability may not be considered as significant by police as other descriptors. For example, few news reports of the slaying of a young black man in Texas by dragging him behind a pickup truck mentioned that James Byrd also was disabled, Sherry said.
Some disability hate crimes aren't reported by victims because of the victims' physical need for a third party to relay the information to authorities. Others aren't reported because the perpetrator is a caregiver upon whom the victim depends. Sometimes police never learn about the crimes because victims consciously or unconsciously ignore the evidence of a hate crime, Sherry said.
Among disabled people, he said, hate crimes are often mislabeled "abuse" and dealt with through counseling as opposed to criminal prosecution.
Yet, whatever the numbers, these crimes are quite serious and tend to be particularly violent, said Sherry.
Forty-three percent of the recorded crimes against the disabled from 1997-2001 involved simple assault. Intimidation accounted for 41 percent, aggravated assault for 10 percent, rape for 2 percent and other forms for 4 percent.
Sherry said hate crime victims are three times more likely to require hospitalization than the victim of a non-bias crime.
In his research, he reports that all but five states have hate crime laws, but only 23 (including California) provide penalties for disability hate crimes. Federal hate crime statutes do not include crimes against the disabled, Sherry said, and a proposal to expand the federal definition to include the disabled stalled in the U.S. Senate earlier this year.
Even in Boston, a city considered a national model for hate crime investigations, Sherry cited a study there of 452 hate crimes from 1983-1987. He found that 85 percent of the offenders were not arrested, and charges were dismissed against a third of those who did get arrested. In total, five assailants eventually went to jail, said Sherry.
A former labor historian, Sherry became aware of the frequency and nature of disability bias after he was disabled after being run over by a car in 1992 in Brisbane, Australia. He has spent the last decade recovering from extensive injuries and undergoing numerous surgeries.
"That gave me a chance to reflect on the way disability is understood in our society," he said. While a disabled person generally is viewed as someone who has undergone a personal tragedy, Sherry said he discovered that the disabled are "people struggling for better lives and often facing some pretty significant barriers like abuse, discriminatory attitudes and inaccessible resources."
Sherry earned his Ph.D. in disability studies at Australia's University of Queensland in 2002. He is turning his dissertation on brain injury into a book. On Jan. 22, he will be giving another report, about disability and sex, at UC Berkeley's Center for the Study of Sexual Culture In spring 2003, he will teach a course at UC Berkeley on disability, identity and social movements.
"The disability movement has been called the last civil rights movement, and that's a good way to understand why the disabled have been left out of so many definitions and protections," Sherry said. "We're just experiencing the first wave of the disabled rights movement now."
While the movement initially focused on issues in the "outside" world, such as access to education and removing physical barriers in public places, Sherry said, it now is looking at more private issues such as health, abuse and hate crimes.
He is sharing his report with hundreds of Centers for Independent Living across the country.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
A lot happened in 2008 but it's 2009 now. I've been neglecting this blog because I've been so busy doing other things. I attended the Y.O Disabled and Proud Conference in March, in Anaheim, California. I did not return to YLF this summer because I started college classes to make up my high school credits. I'm starting a Kurzweil class tomorrow. I took an art history class earlier this summer and got an A. College has been such a great experience; I am so much more free than in high school. I was having a lot of problems with the high school I was attending last year. An incident happened in which I was given an attendance contract and was told to sign. I refused on the basis of the fact that as a student with a disability, I have the right to take it home and bring it back signed. This teacher told me I was being defiant and told me to leave the class. I was disciplined unfairly and put in in-school suspension. I was completely within my rights. I was also having many other problems at the school including inaccessibility to the restroom. I do have hemiparaplegic in the condition I have in which one side of my body does not work as well as the other. I cannot use a push down faucet. When I told the principal about this I asked to use the teacher's restroom. He said yes that's fine no problem. But a few months later, after coming back from winter break, I was denied access to the restroom. A security guard told the very same teacher that I was not permitted to use the restroom. Later about three weeks before school was to let out I discovered that the principal was told that I was listening to my iPod in the teacher's restroom. Which was a complete lie and when I told him, he claimed it was a misunderstanding. By the end of the school year I was completely fed up with all these "misunderstandings" and decided to report the school to the Office of Civil Rights, an organization that acts as a third party, it investigates complaints and tries to negotiate with the school districts into changing whatever the complaint was about. The school I attended was also doing something illegal with the California High School Exit Exam. The case is currently being investigated and I will tell you the result when I find out. The last I heard, the school was looking over the complaint with their lawyers. The worst that can come out of this is that the school loses its federal funding. I honestly wish it hadn't come to this but they should be following the law. As a result of this I am trying to transfer to another district. The problem is this recession we're in. The school district is saying that they are so impacted with special education students that they cannot allow me in. My case is that the school I attended previously did not offer online courses, did not follow regulations, and the fact that the school I'm trying to transfer to another district has had the most experience of any school I can find with students with disabilities. Because my condition I cannot walk far, which is an issue because campuses tend to be very spread out and this high school is not. It is one building with three floors and portables. It also has sports equipment and courts/ fields but I can't use it, making it irrelevant to me. I'm in desperate need of a transfer and am looking towards local government and also writing letters to other politicians in higher office. Two days ago was the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We have come along way but there is still a lot we need to do. In California we are in a gigantic deficit. Our governor is cutting programs for disabilities left in right. He is also cutting funding to schools. We got rid of Gov. Gray Davis because of the same problem we are encountering now. Actually the problem is worse now.