Town Hall Meeting with Secretary Arne Duncan: Join the Conversation!

Secretary Arne Duncan will discuss education issues with parents, educators, and students across the country in a televised town hall on September 15 from 8-9 pm ET. You are invited to participate. Watch the broadcast. Ask questions by phone and email during the show. You can also post a comment right now (below).

This is the first broadcast of the new season for ED’s monthly TV show, “Education News Parents Can Use.” It is also part of the “Listening and Learning Tour,” which has taken Secretary Duncan across the country to engage Americans in a conversation about education and federal policy. Tuesday’s broadcast will include a discussion about the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Education News Parents Can Use airs live via satellite on the third Tuesday of each month during the school year, offering parents and others vital information about getting involved in children’s learning. The program will be carried live on the Dish Network, dozens of PBS stations, and hundreds of public access and education channels. Other broadcast and cable outlets will air the show on a tape-delayed basis. A list of viewing options is available at www.ed.gov/edtv. In addition, the program will be available as an archived webcast at www.connectlive.com/events/ednews.

ED Staff

78 Comments

  1. We need a federal mandate and federal funding for gifted education. It is heartbreaking to see our best and brightest languish in classrooms, where the teacher’s time and effort are mainly focused on working with those below proficiency as a result of NCLB. We would not dream of holding star athletes back from reaching their fullest potential but have no qualms about doing the same to our star students. I cannot think of a surer way to kill any desire to learn amongst our gifted kids. When we fail our best students, we also fail our nation.

  2. Just a few basics here:
    Parent involvement- Teachers are busy, parents know this, especially with testing requirements and disruptive “inclusives”- Why then are open houses held sometimes a month and a half after school begins? I would like to meet the teacher before the school year starts.
    In CT, seventy percent of high school graduates did not pass college entrance exams. Why are they getting diplomas if they do not know high school level requirements? Also, why is the financial/contractual obligation with the teachers/unions upheld when they, according to this testing, have not met the requirement of teaching?
    In todays global economy, considering the huge financial reaponsiblity we take on, funding education with our tax dollars, wouldn’t it be wise to keep pace with the gifted students ability and send them off to college sooner instead of “leaving them behind,” bored in a classroom that fits only their age peers?

  3. It is important to hold schools accountable for demonstrating that they are meeting educational goals. However, it is both problematic and discriminatory to rely on tests as the sole indicator of student progress. Do you believe ESEA should include provisions encouraging the use of multiple measures of student achievement? If so, what other measures would you deem acceptable for measuring student achievement?

  4. Instead of striving to get every child to meet a minimum standard as is required by No Child Left Behind, why not make sure that every child
    experiences academic growth every year. The measure of a good school, as I see it, is not whether all of the children can pass a test, but whether there is significant progress with each child.

    I am a frustrated parent who wants to see all children challenged: the average, the twice
    exceptional, the special needs, the gifted, the slightly above average and the slightly below average. NCLB has provided incentive for
    schools to focus on the kids who are near the minimum standard (to help boost their performance above the minimum cut-off). Schools need
    incentive to help ALL kids reach their potential.

    At the very least, I would like to see a test that would allow parents and teachers to follow each child’s growth over time; a test that would meet each child where he/she is, and test at that level. And I would like to see an incentive program for schools to make sure that each child improves significantly over time.

  5. I have been employed as a school psychologist in a public school system from 1970-2006. During this time I have worked with students from preschool through high school. The amount of paperwork currently required of special educators is a serious hinderance to their ability to provide instructional time to students. The requirements of writing and monitoring numerous goals and objectives on Individual education plans does little to help students achieve success in school and life. The emphasis in high school in preparing all students for college is demeaning to those students who want to pursue careers in vocational fields. Classes in vocational areas such as auto repair , child development and business math are being dropped in favor of college approved electives . This gives special education students less class options where they can be successfully mainstreamed. Students are also increasingly being made to learn to the test and to be passive learners, thus decreasing creativity , curiosity and love of learning.

  6. As a special education teacher of medically fragile, severely handicapped children in the high school, I find the No Child Left Behind requirement discriminating against these students one more time. Their chances of scoring in the proficient level is highly unlikely so once again the “special ed” student is bringing the scores down and the school is not meeting AYP. I am certainly in favor of being accountable for what I do in my classroom and being responsible to the parents but NO CHILD LEft BEHIND is not the answer.

  7. I would like to know if there are any plans to address the needs of our Talented and Gifted Students? The No Child Left Behind program has left our brightest students behind. These kids are our future Scientists, Doctors, Researchers, Leaders, etc and yet they are ignored in the Public School System. There is no funding or incentive to teach these kids at the level and rate they require. By the time these kids hit Middle School they are getting bored and checking out mentally. We need these kids and we need to address this issue.

    Unfortunately there are a lot of parents out there that cannot afford to send our children to a private school where thier needs can be met. Schools, Administration and Teachers do not want to deal with them. They are required to bring up the levels of the lower scoring students and focus all of thier engery, time and funding to do this to the exclusion of our best and brightest.

  8. Secretary Duncan

    In reading over the comments and questions posed to you, I noticed that many of them concern children with Special Needs.

    I am a mother to a child that is considered 2e or twice exceptional (on autism spectrum as well as “gifted”) and while I agree that we cannot afford any more cuts in spending for children who need special education to perhaps meet state and federal standards. We also cannot afford to short change those children who have the ability to learn and process at a higher capacity, often exceeding those standards!

    I understand that each state is responsible for making sure their schools meet IDEA and NCLB requirements, however what are you and the Department of Education going to do to bolster them?

    What positive incentives will be provided to ensure greater compliance?

    Will efforts to move away from teaching to the tests be supported?

    Furthermore what tangible proof will we taxpayers have that our federal government is working with our state governments to protect the “free and appropriate education” of those 2% of children that fall on the outsides of the Bell curve?

    Thank you for your time.

  9. Many studies have found that our most capable students make the lowest achievement test gains of any group and that low income/minority students who are high-achieving lose ground even faster than other students. Research has also found that prosperity in other countries depends on ensuring that their most capable students are learning at high levels. Yet “No Child Left Behind” has left high achieving students even further behind.
    Currently, the only federal program for high-achieving students is funded at less than $8 million dollars a year.
    What can the Federal Government do to help the millions of highly capable students being warehoused in under-performing schools and wasting their brains and their time? More important, what will the Federal Government do?

  10. My son is a profoundly gifted student who receives virtually no services even though State law requires school districts to do so. What is even more disconcerting is that the teachers who are trained in Oregon are not required to take courses pertaining to gifted students. Regardless of what some make think, gifted students are indeed a vulnerable special needs population. They were supposed to be included in the original IDEA law. Only $0.01 of every one hundered dollars spent on K-12 education goes to educating gifted students. We live in a district that has been sued twice in the last 20 years for not complying with State Tag (Talented and Gifted) Law. When are gifted students going to get the services they are A)required by law to receive and B) desperately need and diserve?

  11. Over the past several years, many attempts – some of them successful – have been made to weaken public education by diverting public funds to private or religious elementary and secondary schools through various voucher funding schemes. Morally and economically, such programs fly in the face of our nation’s commitment to public education.
    Since private and religious schools are not required to observe federal nondiscrimination laws, such as Title IX, vouchers put our students’ civil rights are at risk. Also, many private and charter schools do not accept students with special needs, so the test scores, when compared to a public school with all types of students, are skewed. Does the Department of Education support the idea that our country should provide an excellent education for all children, rather than private school vouchers for a few?

  12. When we consider how children learn best, we as teachers know that it is NOT by using standards as a straight jacket for the curriculum. Standards are important as GUIDES for helping to determining goals and objectives worked toward during flexible units and lessons. Student aspirations are also important when determining goals and objectives. We need to flow with each student, trying to take the student as far as possible in the learning process by piquing the student’s curiosity and interest along the way. We can’t tie student learning to time tables and schedules handed to us as dictates from above. Standardized tests are only meant to be used as INDICATIONS OF STUDENT PROGRESS– not as means for evaluation of the student, the school, or the teacher. Doing this is a travesty and goes against all the research and everything that we know about how students learn best. Please read some Vygotsky if you want to learn more about the learning process and the importance of mediation and starting where the student is in that process.

  13. What can the federal government do to ensure that all schools are funded equitably? We know that schools in wealthy suburban school districts are funded better than those in inner cities. Yet we all pay in one way or another for the poor eduction of children in disadvantaged schools. One example that was prominent in the 1990′s was the wide disparity in funding of East St. Louis schools compared to other schools in Illinois.

  14. There are many unfunded mandates when it comes to special education in public schools. Mainstreaming of some severely disabled students places a heavy cost burden on regular schools with little observable advantage to the student. Can we expect that the new authorization of the ESEA will fund every mandate? If not, how can we in good conscience expect struggling districts to provide a quality education to “all” students when so much of the general funding must be diverted to pay for the “special needs” students?

  15. Currently, many government leaders are pressing for teachers to receive more training in order for children to get a better education. While I am all for teacher education, being a someone who has taken a break from teaching elementary students, I strongly feel that this answer, by no means, is a solution. Teachers can have all the training in the world, but with an everage of 32 students to 1 teacher in a classroom, teaching is no easy task. This is especially true given the diverse population of students in the public school system now days, the lack of parental involvement in their children’s lives, and the limited discipline that schools are allowed to give students. Many students have told me that they think they can do and act however they want in school because nothing bad will really ever happen to them.

    Furthermore, when school districts ask for additional tax dollars to go to the district for education, where does this money go? Most tax payers believe that it goes to the classrooms. However, I certainly have never seen it. On average, a teacher will see only about $250 to go directly toward teaching the students. Additionally, I spend about $700, out of my own pocket each school year in order to be able to effectively teach my students. This is a lot of money, considering that teachers are underpaid. Why are teachers so inadequately funded?

    Furthermore, I strongly believe that the way our children are taught in the classroom is very ineffective. Adults and children alike do not learn by simply sitting in their desks, looking at a text book, and listening to the teacher talk all day. While I do believe that there is a place for this in the classroom, children learn by exploring and doing. However, teachers are so pressured by No Child Left Behind to ensure that students are receiving high standardized test scores, there is little or no time to teach any other way.

    Unfortunately, this method of rote learning is really hurting our children’s future. Employers claim that U.S. students are becoming less and less marketable and are loosing more and more jobs to Japan and India because they severly lack independant thinking and problem solving skills.

    Finally, due to No Child Left Behind, there is an abundant amount of resources given to children with special needs. What about gifted and talented students? There are very little resources going to help these students go beyond what their peers are doing. These students are left to go unchallenged and are restricted from learning to their fullest potential. The sad reason for this is because gifted and talented students are not bringing down the school districts’ student statistic while students with special needs are. Therefore, school districts will receive no consequences for not providing gifted and talents programs and resources for students who would benefit from these types of programs,(few school districs do).

    Given these facts, why do many leaders still claim that more teacher education is going to be required in order to provide better education? As stated earlier, there is only so much that we teachers can do with our education if the support needed is not there. What do you plan to do, if anything, about all of the problems I have mentioned?

  16. When NLCB mandated tests are given, as a Special Educator, I am not permitted to make modifications such a paraphrasing or reading the test questions. These are modifications I make on every other test, BECAUSE THE CHILDREN HAVE A LANGUAGE DISABILITY. No wonder their scores are so low on mandated NCLB tests, the disability has not suddenly disappeared.

  17. Question for Sec. Duncan; It is my understanding that you are a supporter of Charter and or Vouchers in public education. The school system that provided this country with it’s greatest generation was the public schools. The three R’S…Reading (for comprehension),Riting(for communication),and rithmatic(for scientific discipline) carried us a long way.Without fidelity to those principles and a renewal support for public schools the masses and our country will writher on the vine. signed .hIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT

  18. As a mother of 2 boys with autism, I feel that education of special needs children is severely lacking. Most school districts (like mine) have substantialy cut funds to special needs. In return, this has caused the level of education special needs children receive to be sub-standard. As teachers struggle to help their students without having the proper training or resources. This truly cannot be acceptable. I feel there is a strong need for reform to help children with special needs, so that “no child is left behind”. Pres. Obama vowed to help Autistic and special needs children receive a better education. What is the plan of this administration to meet this goal? .

    I thank you for your time.

  19. Fewer children would be left behind if students who don’t meet the qualifications for a university or have no interest in going were given instruction in various skills and trades according to their interests and aptitudes, and lead to a skilled job upon graduation. Not all students need to take college prep courses which is the norm in my state, but parental pressure has assured the noncompliance of many students because they don’t want their children to be stigmatized as “slow” by taking classes which would be most benefitial to them. As the situation stands now, students who want to train as chefs, hairdressers, medical assistants, etc. wind up taking out huge loans to get this kind of training at private colleges which are not certified by NASC. If no child is to be left behind, prepare them in public school for the world of work. Not every child needs to read Shakespeare, and I say this as a retired English teacher, nor do they all need to learn algebra, but they do need to learn practical English and practical math so they can write a letter of complaint, or a note to a teacher. They need to be able read an advrtisement for employment, or write an estimate, balance ther cheking acount, prepare a budget etc. Schools are supposed to prepare all students for wat’s next in life. Many will need higher education, but many others won’t, and being strapped with thousands in debt to attend an unaccredited trade school to learn skills and trades that could have been learned in high school leaves too many students behind before they even begin.

  20. We need national academic standards that are much higher. The year-round education suggestion is a good idea. But, isn’t it embarrasing that American students score so much lower than other countries. When high standards are the expected standards, all children learn more. “No pay/no play”, as in Texas, works only if the academic subjects are available and demanded. (ie: No credits for watching football videos.)

  21. NCLB relies solely on test scores as a measure of academic success. What other means would Dept. of Education deem acceptable to show academic progress?

  22. 1. Women and girls are traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. In order to correct this imbalance, do you believe the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act (ESEA) should be amended to include science as a required area of assessment to better identify opportunities to improve girls’ exposure to and achievement in these fields?

    2. Girls comprise 49 percent of the high school population, yet they receive only 41 percent of all athletic participation opportunities, amounting to 1.3 million fewer participation opportunities than male high school athletes. In order to ensure compliance with Title IX and provide girls with equal athletic opportunities, do you support requiring high schools to report basic data on the number of female and male students in their athletic programs and the expenditures made for their sports teams?

    3. According to studies, eighty-three percent of girls and 79 percent of boys reported having experienced sexual harassment, and over one in four students stated that harassment happens often. More recent research shows that bullying affects nearly one in three American school children in grades six through ten. What steps is the Department of Education taking to combat this problem?

    4. It is important to hold schools accountable for demonstrating that they are meeting educational goals. However, it is both problematic and discriminatory to rely on tests as the sole indicator of student progress. Do you believe ESEA should include provisions encouraging the use of multiple measures of student achievement? If so, what other measures would you deem acceptable for measuring student achievement?

    5. Over the past several years, many attempts – some of them successful – have been made to weaken public education by diverting public funds to private or religious elementary and secondary schools through various voucher funding schemes. Morally and economically, such programs fly in the face of our nation’s commitment to public education. Moreover, since private and religious schools are not required to observe federal nondiscrimination laws, such as Title IX, vouchers put our students’ civil rights are at risk. Does the Department of Education stand by the idea that our country should provide an excellent education for all children, rather than private school vouchers for a few?

  23. I would like to see cultural sensitivity taught or strengthened in the classrooms. Would like to see a cultural sharing mandatory in all the classrooms. Would like to see the child’s native language be spoken or acknowledged in the schools. Overall a better understanding of the various tribal nations!

  24. I am the librarian in a small, rural, preK-12 public school. What suggestions do you have for improving the equity to access on print materials and online resources and databases for students in all areas? When funding is based on population, students in smaller schools are limited in the number of resources they can access. Can more funding be generated for school wide libraries (not just classsroom libraries) materials so that all students have materials for pleasure reading and for research purposes?

  25. According to studies, eighty-three percent of girls and 79 percent of boys reported having experienced sexual harassment, and over one in four students stated that harassment happens often. More recent research shows that bullying affects nearly one in three American school children in grades six through ten. What steps is the Department of Education taking to combat this problem?

  26. Do you know what the ramifications are when you tie salary to test scores? I do.

    I retired a few years ago and was always an advocate for students and not willing to be a yes person in order to survive. If test scores are tied to evaluations, I can guarantee you, I would have received negative evaluations.

    Teachers should be held accountable, but have you been to a school, where the majority of the students were from Migrant families? How in the world can these teachers compete with the wealthy school districts.

    If you’d like, I’d be willing to accompany you to schools in our town to witneess the needs and then compare what teachers are dealing with.

  27. President Obama campaigned on reducing the overemphasis on standardized testing, yet the ESEA reauthorization and RTTT do nothing to address this crisis in American education. In fact, these proposals will make the situation worse, and further erode the quality of education our children receive. What is going to be done to reduce the tyranny of high-stakes testing and support and foster broader, better quality assessment?

  28. Over the past several years, many attempts – some of them successful – have been made to weaken public education by diverting public funds to private or religious elementary and secondary schools through various voucher funding schemes. Morally and economically, such programs fly in the face of our nation’s commitment to public education. Moreover, since private and religious schools are not required to observe federal nondiscrimination laws, such as Title IX, vouchers put our students’ civil rights are at risk. Does the Department of Education stand by the idea that our country should provide an excellent education for all children, rather than private school vouchers for a few?

  29. A much-touted evaluation of the Washington, DC, voucher program does not, as has been generally reported, conclusively demonstrate that students who attended private schools made significant gains in reading scores. It demonstrates that reading scores went up slightly among the population of students who were **offered** a voucher opportunity, whether or not they switched schools. (See the report at http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20094050/ )

    Given that there is little to no substantive evidence that private schools produce better learning overall than public schools, is the Obama administration ready to say that voucher programs — which distribute public money to schools that are unassessed, not covered by federal regulations like Title IX, and often strongly affiliated with a religious organization — are off the table as a reform effort? Will you help us as a nation reaffirm our commitment to improve all our public schools?

  30. Schools are expected to do more than educate and parents often have dropped their responsibilities.

    Education policies have emerged to correct problems. Unfortunately, some legislation goes to far or is applied in such a way that it results in policies that make teaching/
    behavior management very diffucult educators.

    As a former LD Teacher I am distressed with what seems to have happened in special education. The attitude by students seems to have switched from let’s get remediated and back into regular classes to let’s stay here where we don’t have to work as hard. This is an effect of children who come to school without parents preparing them to take responsibility for their own learning.

    The Rights of the Child has resulted in kids who know that educators literally can’t touch them or remove them, making behavior management very difficult, particularly if parental support is not present.

    Yes, schools have work to do, but the foundation starts at home. As President Obama has emphasizsed, parents and students must take responsibility for chuildren being ready to learn.

    Programs that put all the resonsibility of educators and schools are misguided; the family has to do its part.

  31. Will the new ESEA incorporate required science assessments? As an unemployed educator trying to find nsf funding to support hiring other educators in a new company, it is difficult to support proposals without assessment data in significant numbers.

  32. Charter schools is not the place to put the resources. The public school provides a level playing field for all students, not the elites like charter schools cater to. Charter schools already have more advantages and do not match up with services with public (real public) schools. When is the No Child Left Behind going to be ditched and goals that really work be put in place? This is the No Teacher Left Standing Bush mandate that was ill conceived. Time to develop goals for all children to succeed.

  33. When a student is tested on information he/she has not had the opportunity to learn, the assessment is not valid. Each year thousands of special education students with IEPs undergo mandated testing under NCLB on academic content that they have not had the opportunity to learn AND this information is being used to determine school status under NCLB. This is direct violation of every testing standard I have seen published from groups like APA and AERA. Will the next reauthorization of the ESAE eliminate this inappropriate testing and subsequent misuse of test scores?

  34. I believe that schools should be held accountable for the education of their students, however I don’t believe that accountabilitly should be based solely on the results of standardized tests, nor that funding to schools should be distributed based on the results of the test scores. It is my experience that schools who score poorly are most in need of the funds that are denied to them. And that students spend the majority of time learning what will be on the test, instead of receiving a well rounded education. What is the Dept. of Educations plan to ensure that students get a better education and that funds are spent on all students equally.

  35. Girls comprise 49 percent of the high school population, yet they receive only 41 percent of all athletic participation opportunities, amounting to 1.3 million fewer participation opportunities than male high school athletes. In order to ensure compliance with Title IX and provide girls with equal athletic opportunities, do you support requiring high schools to report basic data on the number of female and male students in their athletic programs and the expenditures made for their sports teams?

  36. Given the dramatic rise in the prevalence of students with autism, how are you ensuring their access of the general curriculum and preparing them for adulthood in the areas of Transitioning to post secondary and inclusion

    the only response I have seen from our school district is to put these on a route that ensures non graduation. I am tired of funding being provided at such a low rate and now with the ARRA funds only to have our school district take these funds and allocate them toward other populations.
    When is there going to be true transparency and accountability.

  37. My wife is a teacher in calif. She is deaf and teaches the deaf in DHH high school. She is working on getting her creditial. She has taken and passed CBEST, CSET (single subject), CLAD, Adult Ed Teacher Creditial. She is working on core classes for Level 1 and masters degree. However, she now has to take the new CSET cert test, which she has taken twice and failed. She is ready to give up on finishing getting her creditial because of the continues cert testing, which would be a shame because she is a great teacher and her students love her. Many of her students have never had a “deaf” teacher as a role model. My question is how do you keep people like my wife (deaf positive role models)from leaving the teaching field? Why does the state/fed continue to add more and more cert tests that do nothing to prove the quality of the teacher. The certification business has become BIG business. If my wife does not pass the CSET test next time, she will lose her job. It makes no sense to lose this investment in a highly motivated teacher, who is also a member of the community to that of which she teachers. The Deaf Community.

  38. How are we monitoring private schools to follow all requirements within each school system? Racism is still around. Unfortunately our children/parents/teachers are having to deal with it and segregation is not a solution. A family member had expressed this concern to me. It shocked me the fact that it is being allowed. And to think that other schools may be doing the same. Setting these examples to our children teaches them that it is alright to segregate. Everyone know it is not an overnight fix but instilling knowledge is key to parents and teachers who run our schools. It will be a step to ensure all our children’s well being. And in hope we’ve reached out and instilled something in teachers/parents so in return they will hopefully pass on to our children and their children and so on…. We need to come together in hope that our children future enables them this knowlegde to run a better America.

  39. I would like to see a complete change in our education system. We need to go to a year round school system and be requiring our students to take more advanced classes in math and science. I took advanced math and science classes while i was in high school and it has helped me so much. We need to fix our education system before we can progress as a country these kids will be our future and we need to get them a better education if we are to make this country better.

  40. Secondary schools like Marshall High School in Los Angeles are hostile to parents who are knowledgeable about educational laws and descriminate against ethnicity parents. Does not follow state and federal mandates required under Title One. Parents have filed complaints and everyone from the Local District Superintendent to the LAUSD Superintendent ignore parents’ complaints.

  41. Under No Child left behind section 1118, the law allows for “may” when it comes to certain elements of parent involvement, will US Dept of Education recommend a stronger requirement for parent involvement, aligning the law to say shall, specifically for District Advisory Committees, and why are charter schools allowed to waive the requirement for School Site Councils. This should be a requirement for ALL public schools. Additionally, has the US Dept of Education correct guidance for homeless students, students who want to live in low income housing cant because of the designation of “full time” student. This is not fair. Also there needs to be a stronger requirement for schools to ensure services to homeless student as they are being left out.

  42. ——————————————————————————–

    President Obama campaigned on many items including the rights of students with Autism, the need for education reform for children with autism and Funding for IDEA (many school districts just diverted stimulus money that could have been used for special education and autism).

    Education for children with Autism in American is atrocious. Schools chronically under serve children with autism. Parents are constantly forced to sue their districts or form their own private school. When will the Federal Government stand up the rights of all students especially those with Autism? IDEA is not understood, complied with and there is little accountability.

  43. As a general educator, I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the red tape of special education. We have spent huge amounts of money on special education, yet special education students scores on state assessmnets continue to be very low. IEP meetings are a constant disruption to instruction. These meetings take up to an hour. During this hour, I am either pulled from my classroom or my support is pulled because they need to cover for another general educator that is forced to attend the meeting. Furthmore, my inclusion classes commonly contain 32 students, in which seven or eight of them are special education students. Of this number, I question that a few of these students are placed in a “least restricitve environment” as their behaviors are often disruptive.

    I am all for taking measures to provide an education for our special education students. However, I feel that we need to start using contained classrooms and get away from inclusion. This is especially true as general educators face stress from accountability. It is very difficult to teach a classroom of 32 students when 20% of the students are special education students and when there is little support.

    I urge our policy makers to start moving away from inclusion and towards contained classrooms.

  44. Dear Secretary Duncan,

    We have a epidemic of autism in the United States. Most of our schools and government agencies have failed to address the specific needs of those with autism. School systems consistently lie, falsify documents and suppress relevant information from families because they know they will not be held accountable and no real painful consequences will occur when they engage in corrupt, criminal and neglectful acts. My recent ruling from the USDOE Office of Civil Rights determined that my sons elementary school failed to provide vital occupational therapy services to 24 out of 25 kids over 2 consecutive school years. This involved medicaid fraud and a failure by USDOE to mandate compensatory services. The resolution stated that the school must convene a “knowledgeable group of persons” to determine compensatory services. It appears USDOE allowed the school to police their own actions which resulted in a determination that these kids did not all need make up services. Special education budgets are being gutted and the IDEA money will not be replaced when it runs out after this school year.
    My school has 1500 kids with IEP’s, which is about 12%. Our school consistently fails to deliver minimum mandates and denies FAPE on a ongoing basis. Kids with autism can learn with proper supports. It cost money, but, is a fiscally sound investment compared to having an adult fully dependent on the system. The USDOE needs address the autism epidemic and make accountability and schools choice a top priority. Continuing to discriminate against the needs of those with autism is unacceptable and will bankrupt the country in the coming years. There are a thousands of issues in Washington, but, only a few priorities. The Autism Epidemic must be one of those priorities.

    Michael Smith
    Clifton Park, NY

  45. Given the dramatic rise in the prevalence of students with autism, how are you ensuring their access of the general curriculum and preparing them for adulthood in the areas of:

    1. Transitioning to post secondary education and/or employment?

    2. Inclusion?

    3. Safety and dignity in light of Restraint/Seclusion/Corporal punishment Controversies?

    Thank you in advance,

  46. My child with high functioning autism struggles with social skills. He is mainstreamed for academics with normal tracking children, but the little social skills help he receives takes place in a class with other autistic children. I know several schools have very low cost programs that involve getting normal tracking children together with children with autism to learn social skills. What is the Department of Education doing to ensure that best practices for educating children with autism are being shared around the country and how can we promote such programs that are low cost and provide great benefit to all of the children involved?

  47. As the promotion is for charter schools, many are allow autonomy and flexibility, and are deemed public schools. If they are public schools then why arent they following the same laws as traditional schools in the area of transparency and accountability. They are not required to have School Site Councils, not required to have true parent involvement, and can “discriminate” against special education , English Learner Standard english Learner students, Low income…… WHY ISNT THERE CONSISTENT, CLEAR, ALIGNED LAWS FROM THE FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL EDUCATION AGENCY, which clearly defines accountability and transparency. Federally we must require all LEA’s to have District Advisory Committees, the voice for the Title One parent. We cannot continue to malign parents and students by not ensuring their voices.

  48. Given the DOE’s charter stating that you ARE prohibited from exercising “ANY DIRECTION, supervision, or control over the curriculum program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system.”

    Why is it that you provided explicit direction to every school district (14,000+) and most every school in the country (100,000) on Obama’s education speech?

    Originally the “Classroom Activities” were called “Curriculum” and then changed to “Lesson Plans” and then finally renamed again. Originally it was stated that they were developed by a cooperation of the Whitehouse and Department of Education, now it’s stated they were developed by the Teaching Ambassador Fellows (other teachers) assumedly to hide the fact that they were originated by the DOE.

    Regardless of who wrote them, you still provided direction by contacting every school in the country to give this list of suggested activities and suggested students participate and watch the speech which is in fact determining the program of instruction for every school child in the country…slightly way over reach of your charter.

    What is the redress available for this action?

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