Kicking Off ED’s Leadership Mega Conference

Yesterday, I had the great opportunity in joining Melody Musgrove, director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), and Jim Shelton, assistant deputy secretary for Innovation and Improvement, in welcoming over 1,000 attendees to the Department of Education’s second annual OSEP Leadership Mega Conference in Arlington, Va. This year’s conference is entitled “Collaboration to Achieve Success from Cradle to Career,” and, runs from August 1-3, bringing together state directors of special education, lead agency early intervention coordinators, data managers, parents, state interagency representatives, Technical Assistance center staff and many others. The conference was designed to provide up-to-date information regarding Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) indicators, data analysis, student outcomes, early intervening services, Response to Intervention, Universal Design for Learning, service coordination and collaboration.

Mega Conference logoWhile my opening remarks were brief, I took the opportunity to give a heartfelt thanks to everyone present for all their hard work in meeting the needs of our infants, toddlers, children, youth with disabilities and their families. I also provided a brief update on the status of the IDEA Part C regulations, reminding the group of the common quote: “you usually have to wait for that which is worth waiting for.” I also shared information regarding the power of leadership and I was honored to share a story written by my son about the importance of “not quitting.” My son’s story spoke to the importance of commitment and goal setting and how both helped him to succeed as a high school football player.

The opening session also included a brief video on the 35 years of IDEA followed by an update from Melody Musgrove on the continuing work of OSEP and our continued progress towards collaboration with “general education,” including collaboration with the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), Title I and the Office of Civil Rights (OCR).  Shelton described the new educational environment that focuses on individualization and personalization for all students and how general education is looking towards special education as a model, since individualized education is not only a requirement, but a priority in how we teach our students.

The rest of the conference is filled with information and insight ranging from innovation, transformation, collaboration and more. I want to extend tremendous gratitude to all of the participants for all that they do to support the success of our students.

If you would like more information, please see the OSEP Mega Conference website at http://mega-2011.tadnet.org/

Alexa Posny is the Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the Department of Education.

2 Comments

  1. What I liked most about the OSEP Mega conference :
    The people, the information I took away, in particular, about various states’ and OSEP’s programs and initiatives, and the opening video.
    My son with autism is 40 years old and seeing the video brought back memories- some painful-because 38 years ago there were no services for him. I quit my job to be his mom, teacher and therapist – some joyful- because children with disabilities, today, can receive the education and services they need to learn and grow and – some proud -because I work for a parent center and I am able to help parents navigate systems and give them the skills and tools to become their children’s best lifelong advocates.

  2. I have 2 daughters who were diagnosed with Autism and I believe because of early intervention that was thrust upon us they are mainstreamed and doing well on their own in high school. This was in Iowa. Now we live in AZ and our current school district is benefiting financially from the financial commitment our former school district in IA made. Because we have daughters with Autism we hear a lot of stories. The one that sticks in my mind as difficult problem to solve is the financial strain that small rural school districts cannot take on with kids that require extra help. It is foolish to kick the can down the road and have the children suffer. This should be a national problem solved at the national level. That is my 2 cents.

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