McCain Addresses Vaccine Safety, Obama Silent
Flu Vaccine: Right To Know!

Special Education Attorney on Palin's Record

SpedManaging Editor's Note:  This letter from attorney Jennifer Laviano (below) was featured in David Kirby's Huffington Post piece (HERE) after the last debate. Ms. Laviano specializes in special education law. On October 14th, she sent this email to share her impressions of what we might expect from Palin if elected Vice President.  As you know, we at Age of Autism are extremely concerned about vaccination safety and vaccination choice for parents.  We also have to consider the education and adult services that will be available for the children who are growing older every day. Thank you to Ms. Laviano for permission to reprint her email.

Sent: Tue, 14 Oct 2008 2:14 pm
Subject: Palin and Special Education
Dear clients, friends, colleagues, and all of the above,

As we near the Presidential election in just three weeks, I have been asked by many of you to comment on my thoughts on Gov. Palin and what she can and will do for special education students.  As an attorney whose practice focuses exclusively on the representation of children with disabilities, I always investigate candidates' positions and records on this very critical moral and financial issue.  One of my clients recently suggested that I share with others what I have learned, and so here it is.

When Gov. Palin first came to my attention, I was, as I am sure all of you who care about this issue, intrigued to have someone on the national platform who talks about children with special needs.  Since hearing her say this repeatedly in speeches, I have been waiting, and waiting, to hear some specifics on special education reform.  Most of all, I want to know what her stance is on the IDEA, the federal statute that governs special education.  The IDEA is up for reauthorization by Congress in 2010, and it is crucial that it reflect the policies and funding structure necessary to protect and appropriately educate our children with disabilities.  I needed to know what Gov. Palin thinks about the future of special education legislation in this country.

I know where the other three on the tickets stand; Senators Obama and Biden have issued position statements on the IDEA to various parent groups, strongly supporting full funding for the IDEA and the rights of children with disabilities and their parents.  The Obama-Biden website has a direct link to the ticket's position on disabilities.  Senator McCain's website does not have such a link and neither he nor Palin have provided those positions on the IDEA to parent advocacy groups.  Senator McCain does have a supportive position on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) which has been published.  I was, however, extremely disappointed in his discussion on the Senate floor regarding the Reauthorization of the IDEA 2004, in which he expressed his concerns that parents of children with disabilities who have to sue to secure appropriate services for their children under the Statute and win against districts shouldn't have their attorneys' fees covered.  This is not just a matter of self-interest for me, t is the difference between families, especially poor families, being able to vindicate their civil rights or not.  But I knew those things, I did not know where Palin stood, and I wanted to find out.

Having waited for some specifics from her on just how she is going to be an advocate for children with special needs in the White House, I finally got close.  In her recent interview with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News, she was asked what her position is.  While never mentioning the IDEA at all or what needs to be changed, kept, or fixed in it, she stated that the issue that needs to be addressed is "equal access" for children with special needs. 

EQUAL ACCESS?  Seriously?  We HAVE equal access, that is what the original version of the Statute fought for in the early 70s, when children with disabilities were literally prohibited from attending our public schools.  Equal access is so far in the minority of what needs to be addressed in special education I hardly know where to begin.  Our problems are not that children with disabilities aren't allowed into the buildings; our problem is what happens when they get there!  What about a Free and Appropriate Public Education?  What about "meaningful educational benefit?"  What about giving children with special needs the tools to thrive and prosper and be fully independent adults, which is what the IDEA now stands for?  We are decades fro m equal access being the key question, and apparently Gov. Palin is not aware of that fact.

Now, you might say "well, Jen, I am a parent of a child with special needs and I didn't know that either."  Okay, my response:  "are you running for Vice President of the United States?  Are you telling the nation that you would see yourself as the voice for those children within the federal government?  If you were, do you think you might have looked into it a little bit?" 

It is not terribly surprising to me that Gov. Palin's views on this are so far outdated.  I have traveled to Alaska to give a speech to parents and professionals on the subject of the rights of children with special needs, in particular children with autism spectrum disorders.  I was stunned by how far behind the State was from the vast majority of the rest of the country on the education of children with disabilities.  Perhaps, for Alaskans, "equal access" IS the problem, but it is certainly not the case in Connecticut or most of the rest of the country.  I am in regular contact with a colleague of mine who is a Parents' attorney in Alaska, who has had to fight tooth and nail for children with special needs in Alaska simply to secure them the most basic of services that we take for granted here.  I for one do not want the rest of the country to use Alaska's system of educating our most vulnerable children as a paradigm. 

Okay, yes, you all know I'm a liberal...but that's one of the reasons that I chose to get into the field of representing children with special needs, because I believe in my heart that this last bastion of civil rights is absolutely critical to fight.  We need major fixes in our special education system, and if you think that who is in the White House does not effect you on this issue, you couldn't be more wrong.  IT MATTERS.  It matters in terms of funding and at least as, if not more, importantly, enforcement.  Our IDEA enforcement, even in States like CT where we have zealous advocacy, is woefully inadequate.  School districts routinely violate the procedural and substantive rights of children and parents and only in a small fraction of cases are they taken to task for it.  It also matters because the next President will have at least a few Supreme Court appointments to make.  We have had more decisions from the United States Supreme Court in the area of special education law in the last few years than we had for decades.  Those decisions have tremendous impact on whether parents have the right to have proper evaluations done for their children, how and when parents can exercise their rights under the IDEA, who has the burden of proof in Due Process Hearings, and a myriad of other issues which directly impact our children with special needs.

Whether we properly educate and embrace our children w ith disabilities is crucial to the future of this country, as the cost of NOT doing so will be far larger than the cost of doing so...leaving out the fact that it happens to also be the right thing to do in a great society.  This issue should be front and center for any candidate for the White House, and I write to let you know that, at least as far as Gov. Palin is concerned, it has been an opportunity not only missed, but frighteningly misunderstood.  It does not bode well for her, for us, or most importantly, for the children we love who need and deserve better in an "advocate in the White House." 

I will be casting my vote on November 4th for Obama-Biden, and I hope you will join me.  They and their party have been on the side of children with special needs historically, and they will be on their side in the future.  As our economy implodes and State and local educational budgets tighten, if we do not turn this around now, I fear that we will, once again, be fighting only for "equal access" for our kids.  That is unacceptable to me.

Finally, for any of our more conservative clients who I may have offended, my apologies; I respect your views even if I disagree with them.  However, to calm your concerns, Attorney Dana Jonson and I have convened a Personnel Board consisting of the two of us, which has investigated the matter and determined that you continue to have excellent legal representation.0

Thanks for reading, please feel free to forward this email to any and all people you know who care about the future of special education in this country.

Best, Jennifer Laviano
The Law Offices of Jennifer Laviano, LLC
Sherman, CT
Lavlaw3@aol.com

Comments

KUJO

Jennifer unfortunately you missed the key points in his talk - he missed nothing - yes, technical because has was speaking to the technical people who wanted to hear it. Regarding vaccines - not part of the agenda - the agenda was "his research" and research is technical in nature that gives it validity to those who understand it. Your question did seem to have come out of no where I was surprised he was even polite. There is much information suggesting that autism is not just a vaccine issue, but rather a whole body issue. There are children with autism that never had a vaccine or never had anti-biotics. The presentation demonstrated his passion to scientifically determine an understanding of what ASD kids may be experiencing. I hope Dr. MacFabe continues to research in such a fashion (scientific and respected by peers)that will allow movement forward to help the kids -- GO CANADA GO! By the way I don't think he was from Montreal!

Carolyn M.

To Jennifer:

I am glad that you are happy with your healthcare system in Canada. However, PhillyLisa is right about government-provided healthcare not being very desirable for children who have autism here in the United States.

I have considerable experience with a different government-provided healthcare than she does. That healthcare did very little for my daughter, who has severe autism. My daughter was not diagnosed until she was almost 4.5 years old. Her GI issues were largely unaddressed. At one point, an unneeded prescription for risperdal was pressed upon me by a doctor, along with an article touting its benefits. He stated that if I did not put my daughter on risperdal, I would "regret it". For the record, I have never regretted not filling that prescription. This healthcare did pay for some ABA, but then they changed the rules to read that the ABA provider had to be BCBA. That effectively ended any reimbursement of ABA for my family. This does not strike me as a very "humane" system.

I am extremely thankful that we have private insurance and a DAN doctor. The DAN doctor has helped my daughter a great deal. The private insurance has paid for at least some of it. I have very little doubt about what a government-provided healthcare plan would reimburse for autism-related care - a miniscule amount of the total. In my opinion, we are better off with carefully worded insurance mandates.

jennifer

well I guess i was being all mavericky tonight-Autism Calgary sponsored a talk by Dr. MacFabe (from Montreal). This city is sooo damned conservative. After his talk, which was quite technical, (basically about the role of gut bugs in autism), I mentioned (politely, I swear) a few omissions in his material i.e. that thimerosal is not the only heavy metal that might be a player in this vaccination issue (there's aluminum and all sorts of other stuff), and that flu vaccines contain thim and that with all due respect, even though they said they took the thimerosal out they still used up the stuff in storage. Well, you would think I had whipped out a pistol and shot the guy. The Autism Calgary dude reminded us all that we're all in this together, like inferring that I was being way too OUT THERE and biased. Even Dr. MacFAbe seemed to aknowledge after a while that these were all truths and that we have to look at everything. I do think his work seems really interesting and dovetails well with Dr. Wakefield's stuff but man I wish that it wasn't so damned political to question vaccination. I just got back and I just need to vent although this doesn't really fit in to this page necessarily.... all I did was to politely bring it up and they thought it was some kind of nuclear fall-out. Sorry, just need to rant...

Elucidatus

I guess I am guilty of being Mavericky too, because I was laughing it up on SNL. Palin is a JOKE. This whole election is a joke and the joke is on us. Vote RON PAUL. I will not waste my vote because I will vote for what is best for my child.

jennifer

anyways, aren't the tax increases mainly for those over the 250k bracket? They can afford to pay a little more tax. It's called giving back.
ps there is a group called Hope for Healing Children.org here in our city and they can tell you more about "out of pocket" expenses with regard to bio-med, ABA etc. in Canada.

jennifer

hi phillylisa, it took me awhile to delve into this more. My experience in this area is as an educational assistant and I have two children (the boy I was hesitant to vaccinate much since I had a friend who was rabidly anti-vaccination- and boys seem more vulnerable for whatever reason). Neither has autism, fortunately, but I do work with children with autism and definitely believe in the vaccine/autism link. Anyways, because I have not had to navigate this path for my own children I have obvious weaknesses in my knowledge of this area. However, I'll try to answer some of your questions.
The healthcare provider is a non-issue here but we do get to choose our own doctor-and we can always get a second opinion on a medical issue or change doctors. I have never felt that I needed to do this, however. You are right about paying out of pocket for things like chelation or bio-medical treatments since it would be viewed here as "alternative treatment." I can't say that we are the "mecca" of autism support just because of having universal health care. Services can be a little fragmented and children's services and education ends up being the treatment/funding body for most autism support, not health. All families do have access to "early intervention" services, though.
Wealthy Canadians do sometimes go to the States for things like surgery because of wait-list issues. We actually turned down an "invitation" to join our doctor's new practice -it cost 4,000 per year to join (it's one of the new, semi-private options here) because we just don't think it's right to have to pay this amount. We opted to go with another doctor even though we could have afforded to pay for our old doctor, who we loved, in her new, private clinic. Anyways, I just think it's the right thing to pay a little more tax and help everyone to have access to health care- what about all the poor U.S. families who get wiped out because they have cancer etc.? I think universal health care (although not perfect) is just the humane way to go. The other approach just seems to breed a "meanness" , I think. Unfortunately, you guys (parents of children with autism) are the pioneers in this medically -induced nightmare. What has to happen is for it to be un-biasedly proven that environmental factors (one of them being vaccination) have caused learning problems (adhd, autism etc.) and forced vaccination has to stop. That is apart from the issue of "socialized health care" and whoever wins the election, I hope they will do the right thing and admit the problem.

PhillyLisa

A couple of questions for Jennifer on socialized healthcare in Canada. Do you get to choose your health care providers? If you disagree with a doctor, what's the procedure for getting a second opinion? Does your health care pay for supplements? Chelation? HBOT? How much PT, OT, and speech is covered? And why are wealthy Canadians coming to the U.S. for surgery?

I have friends in several countries with socialized healthcare. My friends from Finland came here because they were being taxed to death and could not afford to raise their family. Yes, they had good basic care, excellent maternity care and benefits, but their special needs child got almost no services. That child is now twelve years old, living in the U.S., and FINALLY got a diagnosis of autism. And no, this is not a high-functioning child with a few quirks. This is a child with very obvious social and communication deficits. She should've had a diagnosis years ago. Socialized healthcare failed her.

My daughter already has government health insurance, which is available in Pennsylvania to those with developmental disabilities. Thankfully, it's only our secondary insurance. PT, OT, and speech are very limited, and I had to go through four appeals to be able to take her to a doctor out of state. For those who have no insurance at all, it's better than nothing, but for autism it's almost useless. I believe we can look forward to more of the same if we have socialized healthcare in this country. I'm sure we'll still be paying out of pocket to get our kids what they really need. That is, if anyone can still afford to pay out of pocket. The tax increases that will be needed to sustain socialized healthcare will bankrupt many of us.

jennifer

Shelley, I have to comment on your assumtions of life under a "socialist regime". In Canada, we actually look after people who are ill (and yes, we probably do pay a little more in taxes and the system isn't perfect but I assure you it is worth every penny). The government does more for us when we are sick, and yet they do not intrude on our rights to make decisions for our children such as vaccinating. Sure, those pesky nurses keep calling to ask if we'd like to come in and get shot-but we are in no way forced to do all the vaccinations. I don't think we even have such a thing as an "exemption form" and sometimes I just lie when, for example, they ask on the hockey forms, "is your child up to date with their vaccinations?" THey never ask for proof -not yet, anyways. If what we live in is called "socialism" Bring it on!!! I do still think that there is a lot of work to be done with simply educating people as to the risks of vaccination in general and the right to refuse. In Canada, though, public(socialistic) health care does not = forced vaccination

Lin

This should also serve to better clarify Governor's actual record concerning special ed in Alaska:

For Immediate Release
Contact: Press Office

Friday, October 24, 2008


Governor Palin's Record Of Supporting Those With Special Needs

"And as governor, I've succeeded in securing additional funding and assistance for students with special needs. By 2011, I will have tripled the funding available to these students." -- Governor Sarah Palin, 10/24/08

Governor Palin Has A Proven Record Of Commitment To Special Needs Children:

Governor Palin Has Increased Funding For Special Needs Education. Overall funding for Special Needs students has increased every year since Sarah Palin entered office, from $219 million in 2007 to a projected $276 million in 2009. Breakdown below:

· FY07: $219,358,041

· FY08: $220,420,268

· FY09: $275,827,909

On March 28, 2008, Governor Palin Signed Legislation That Will Nearly Triple Per-Pupil Funding Over Three Years For Special Needs Students With High-Cost Requirements. Per-pupil breakdown below:

· FY08: $26,900

· FY09: $49,320

· FY10: $61,380

· FY11: $73,840

Governor Palin Has Directed State Funds To Other Special Needs Programs. This funding includes $500,000 for diagnostic services for autistic children and $250,000 for training in early autism intervention in her FY2009 budget.

The Executive Director Of The Association Of Alaska School Boards Called The New Funding Palin Fought For A "Historic Event." "Carl Rose, the executive director of the Association of Alaska School Boards, praised the changes in funding for rural schools and students with special needs as a 'historic event,' and said the finance overhaul would bring more stability to district budgets." ("Alaska Legislators Overhaul Funding," Education Week, 4/30/08)

Families Of Special Needs Children "Have Been Flocking To Palin Rallies ... They Say, Because Her Story Is Theirs, Too." But in the sea of faces, nearly everywhere she goes, she encounters people who aren't really there for the politics. ... Families of children with Down syndrome have been flocking to Palin rallies. They come to shake her hand, grab a hug or snap a picture, drawn there, they say, because her story is theirs, too." (Savannah Guthrie, NBC "Nightly News," 10/14/08)

Lin

This should help to clafify any claims made against Governor Palin and IDEA:

Thought you might want to see this. Does this answer any of your questions
about IDEA. I will try to get you some of Governor Palin's comments as they
become available.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Press Office

Friday, October 24, 2008

The McCain-Palin Commitment To Children With Special Needs

"To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have
a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your
sons and daughters. I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a
friend and advocate in the White House." -- Governor Sarah Palin, 9/4/08

Today, Governor Sarah Palin Outlined The McCain-Palin Commitment To Children
With Special Needs. John McCain and Sarah Palin believe we must continue to
challenge our education system to expand access to students with disabilities
and provide them with a meaningful and high-quality education. Only 52 percent
of students with disabilities graduate with a regular high school diploma, and
33 percent of students with disabilities drop out of the education system
entirely. John McCain and Sarah Palin believe we can, and must, do better. A
McCain-Palin Administration will do better, with a Vice President who
understands the issue first-hand working to implement these major reforms.

The McCain-Palin Commitment: More Choice

· Allow Parents Of Students With Disabilities To Choose The Best School For
Their Child. Parents should be able to send their child, especially a child with
a disability, to a school of their choice so that they can get the best
education possible. Using the Florida McKay scholarship as a model starting
point, the McCain Administration will allow states to develop programs that
allow parents to choose public or private schools, with federal funding
following the child. The McCain-Palin team will also expect states to hold these
schools accountable for their results. This proposal carries no cost beyond IDEA
funding. States should be allowed to develop these programs with their federal
IDEA funds and state and local funds.

· Make Explicit That Federal Funds Are Fully Portable. John McCain and Sarah
Palin believe parents of students with disabilities should be allowed to use
federal funds at any qualified school of their choice, public or private,
religious or secular without forcing them into an administrative process.
Currently, the district or the specific school can make such a recommendation.
This initiative will allow the parents to make the choice and recommendations
themselves. The McCain administration will work to make this a reality.

The McCain-Palin Commitment: Fully Fund The Individuals With Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA)

· The McCain Administration Will Fully Fund The IDEA. Special Education has
been a federal issue since 1975, when President Ford signed the law now known as
the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act -- IDEA. While IDEA has been
improved and strengthened over the years, its primary funding commitment has
never been met.

· Full Federal Funding Of IDEA Is Estimated At $26 Billion Annually Compared
To The Current Level Of $10.9 Billion. Using a phased-in increase of $3 billion
annually in order to reach the full funding in five years will cost an
additional $45 billion over five years. Full funding for IDEA means the federal
government would pay 40 percent of the costs of the K-12 special education
program.

The McCain-Palin Commitment: Reform And Refocus

· Provide Information And Assistance To Families Of Infants And Toddlers With
Special Needs And Up-To-Date Information For Medical Professionals. The Parent
Training and Information (PTI) Centers and Community Parent Information Centers
(CPRCs) provide needed information and assistance. Unfortunately, to date, their
focus has been parents of school age children; the McCain Administration will
refocus IDEA so that the Centers must expand to parents with children ages 0-3.
In addition, the McCain Administration will call for the Centers to provide
access to better information for medical professionals about improvements in
resources and the availability of assistance. In turn, these medical
professionals will be able to provide better information to parents. This can be
done with no additional cost beyond IDEA funding as it merely refocuses existing
funding.

· Increase Funding For States To Improve Services To Families With Infants And
Toddlers. Almost 80 percent of families with special needs children from birth
through three years old serve their children at home under the IDEA program.
Parents and families will benefit from improved programs and resources to
maximize their child's potential in the early years under a McCain
Administration. Currently, this part of IDEA is minimally funded.

· Improve Services To Students With Disabilities In High Schools And Community
Colleges. The McCain Administration will modernize the Vocational Rehabilitation
Act to improve services to students with disabilities in high schools and
community colleges. Require states to demonstrate proven outcomes for students
with disabilities that lead to gainful employment when they graduate. When the
Vocational Rehabilitation Act is modernized, funding should be refocused to
incentivize proven outcomes for students with disabilities.

Monica

School Choice in Florida? Are you kidding me?

Yeah, we have the McKay scholarship, good luck finding schools that will accept it! There is only one autism school in Tampa (FACE) that is not a public school! This school is over an hour from my house, and it is the only school in the Tampa Bay area!

School choice is NOT working in Florida, don't expect it to work elsewhere!

There are too many remote areas of the country that will not benefit from choice, but will benefit by funding IDEA.

PhillyLisa

Maverick, I simply told you to get your facts straight. I found it amazing that somebody could be following this election and not know that Palin has openly talked about her son's Down Syndrome. I addressed facts, and you have the nerve to make this personal. You know nothing about what I think of either McCain or Palin. You also know nothing about my life. Why would you even assume I'm watching SNL? News flash, Maverick, you are not the only one posting here who has a child with autism. Obviously you haven't been around here long or you would know very well that my daughter has autism and that my world revolves around her and her recovery. I come here for factual information. I have no time to waste on anything else. You made statements that were factually incorrect and misquoted Palin. If you can't handle being challenged on that, why make the statements? I don't make judgements on your personal life or situation. I would suggest you refrain as well. We're all fighting the same battle here.

Maverick

PhillyLisa, You are the one being ridiculous! I can understand her and any other parent with a child with a disability seeing through the disability. However, she is the one who is running for office not me or you or our neighbor! I know that she has spoken about disabilities and even about her own child today but didn't go much further than to say that "We are no longer afraid." Afraid of what?

Also in Today's speech! She is talking about Autism Cures when according to the experts they have no idea where it comes from or how it happens! In her own words "Cures"... again false hopes when she cannot even keep her story line in order and ramble on about fruit flies!

Where have you been these past seven weeks? Probably feeling all Mavericky watching SNL and having a laugh when I am working with special needs kids as a coach and as a father to a child with Autism!

Palin is a rambling fool. I respect her as a person but don't make promises that you cannot keep or live up to.

Kevin Champagne

Diane wrote; "How long have you been living it? And what are your work hours"?

Well Diane I'm not sure why you made this personal but I will tell you how long.

Diane, I have been living it for 5 years. My son is 7 and was diagnosed at 2.

What are my work hours? You must assume that because I'm the father that I'm not at home or not "living it" because I'm at work all day?

Diane, my work hours are usually 14-16 hours per day but only 4 days a week.

Trust me Diane, I've lived it. I flew with my son to North Carolina for bi-weekly IV chelation treatments for one year while he screamed and disrupted the entire plane. One time we were on a 5 hour ground hold at Newark airport and I thought I was going to lose my mind. I helped hold him down over the last 5 years through countless blood draws while he screamed at the top of his lungs. I went through 30 straight days of HBOT treatments with him while he screamed and scratched my face until I was bleeding.

I took an entire summer off through the Family Medical Leave Act when my son was first diagnosed so I could be home to rub transdermal chelation on him 2 times per day and watch and listen to him scream through ABA therapy.

I have been to at least 12 different autism conferences and my son has been a patient of the following doctors over the last 5 years; Hardy (6 months), Krigsman (for an autism gut study), Buttar (2 years), the Geiers(6 months), and Charles Ray Jones (6 months - present). All of which included long plane rides and or car rides with more hitting, scratching, and screaming.

Diane, I have definitely lived it and I'm still living it and no matter how many hours Governor Palin spends on the campaign trail I believe she is also living it and she has a tough road ahead and hopefully while she is our VP.

And while I'm airing it out here, in my opinion, mercury DOES NOT cause autism ...low pH blood levels do. Research it. Some unvaccinated kids are being diagnosed with autism. Children on special diets most likely improve because their pH levels go up.

Take ten minutes and watch this YouTube video about low pH and how it affects the body;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJJA9sWT6Qg

mlinn

How about a little history lesson. One of the most significant opportunities to fully fund IDEA occured in 2000/2001. The Republican controlled senate voted against and successfully killed the bill that provided full funding for IDEA. (John McCain voted nay). In response to the Republican controlled Senate's failure to fund IDEA, Sen Jim Jeffords left the Republican party on May 24, 2001 to become an Independent (now there's a REAL maverick). It's great to be having all of these discussions and hearing about these wonderful things McCain and Palin are saying, but when you get right down to it, we are electing a party, not two individuals. I've always maintained that W isn't such a bad guy, he just surrounded himself with idiots. The fact of the matter is we need to consider the many individuals who will hold key positions in a Republican or Democratic administration. When you look at historical voting records and actions relating to IDEA, big Pharma, and the insurance industry, the Republican party has consistently let the autism community down. I'm not saying the Democrats have or will move the world. I'm just concerned some people are so giddy with excitement over some attention and a few sound bites that they're ignoring the proverbial "elephants" in the room. Wake up folks, snap out of it. I know it makes you feel good, but the hangover and the regret the morning after the election (when reality sets in) won't be worth it--

karenatlanta

Mike my comment was directed at the author.
In our city Special Needs attorneys average 300-500/hr. A friend whose son is being physically restrained at school by parapros recently got a quote for $4000.00 to get her son private placement. Tired of walking into IEPs and seeing advocates sporting full carat diamonds.(true story) Why should a parent have to pay counsel to get help.
School choice is welcome reform and an excellent plan to improve special education.

School choice is a beautiful thing Mike, if your State gives you the option. I know first hand. My son is still in a Title 1 public school even after SB10. But...we no longer grovel for services.
In May, I sat down at the IEP and explained that I had not yet made up mind about placement.
(Hum lets see... transfer to a better district,
choose one of the hundreds of private choices including ABA schools,
or enroll in the virtual academy and get private OT and Speech paid for by K12???)
It is amazing how many services were thrown on the table. Pilot reading classroom, more ABA, summer services.

A welcome change to the normally hostile IEP process. Choice forces quality in the public school. It's brilliant compared to due process. Not only that, the old battle axe SPED coordinator was replaced by a kinder gentleman who invited parents in to discuss placement options.
At anytime I can type in my child's dollar amount on the State DOE page and find out how much is being spent on his services.
If need be, I can shop around and know exactly how much SB10 scholarship money
we have on hand.
This is a welcome relief to those of us who have battled year after year for basic services.
I would imagine with school choice in place nationally, the market for special needs advocate attorneys would be pretty bleak.
Not to mention the savings to the State in legal fees that could be poured back into education.
I detect a bias in this piece.
With all due respect here...
Not interested in a legal professional telling me how to vote.

PhillyLisa

Maverick, where have you been for the last seven weeks? Sarah Palin has been very open about her son's Down Syndrome. She never described him as perfectly healthy, she said he was "perfectly beautiful." That's a loving mother speaking about her baby. No way is she denying he has a disability. This is just getting ridiculous! Please check your facts before you post.

Maverick

Hold on everyone! Palin is a Maverick! She took on the Mavericks and according to her it all Mavericky! Has she once mentioned her child with Down Syndrome? I cannot remember. What I do remember is that she introduced her child as a perfect healthy child. No mention of his disability as if she pretended that there was no disability at all. Is this the kind of person we want n our office?

I mean I think she is great but you cannot say you will help change the system for children with disabilities when you cannot accept that your own child has a disability. Or EVEN TALK ABOUT IT!

Talk to me Goose, its me maverick!

Sharon L. Tipton

As a Grandmother of an Autistic 13 year old boy, I really cringe after reading all the bickering between Democrats and Republicans in regard to helping the Autistic Children and more - we don't need to be reading this crap Like from Jennifer Laviano and other Republicans and yet, see NOTHING accomplished for these Special Needs Children - you all should be ashamed of yourself!

Mike

I am all for school choice. However, choosing between a number of schools that all have crappy programs doesn't do a parent much good. Choice only works if there is at least one school who is providing good, research based, services administered by highly trained professionals.

Kelli Ann Davis

“After SIX MONTHS of time and on the eve of the due process hearing, the school agreed to the request.”

Mike:

Sounds like that would be *solved* by the following platform point which allows PARENTAL CHOICE under “The McCain-Palin Commitment To Children With Special Needs:”

The McCain-Palin Commitment: More Choice:

Make Explicit That Federal Funds Are Fully Portable. John McCain and Sarah Palin believe parents of students with disabilities should be allowed to use federal funds at any qualified school of their choice, public or private, religious or secular ***without forcing them into an administrative process.*** Currently, the district or the specific school can make such a recommendation. This initiative will allow the PARENTS TO MAKE THE CHOICE AND RECOMMENDATIONS themselves. The McCain administration will work to make this a reality.

Keith:

Sarah Palin’s statement during her speech this morning in Pittsburg:

“And as governor, I've succeeded in securing additional funding and assistance for students with special needs. By 2011, I will have tripled the funding available to these students.”

Personally, I trust her record as indicated by her statement above. I have no reason to believe she would lie to a room full of parents with special needs children.

Chris:

If you read the lawsuit, you’ll see that the problems started back in the fall of 2006. Sarah Palin didn’t reach office until several months later. Any sitting Governor would have been *named* in the suit as indicated by law.

http://issuu.com/mpetrelis/docs/07.08.07firstamendedcomplaint

Obviously, the *problems* which led to the filing of the lawsuit were in place wayyyyy before Sarah Palin entered into the picture.

Diane:

I rec’d Sarah Palin’s speech and the “McCain-Palin Commitment to Children With Special Needs” shortly after 9:00 am this morning from McCain Headquarters – just in case you want to know where I got my information in regards to the comments above :-)

Mike

Karenatlanta,

Thanks for the laugh. $300 per hour? I have donated over 1,500 hours on special education cases and have received exactly $0.00 from parents with children with autism. The last case I had was a fight to allow parents to have their private paid ABA therapy visit their child's classroom for 1 hour per month at the parents expense. After SIX MONTHS of time and on the eve of the due process hearing, the school agreed to the request. If I was in this to make money, I'd be working for the schools.

Also, reform of the CDC or NIH may address the vaccine issue but will do absolutely nothing to provide services that are needed for children with autism now. Biomedical treatments and early, intensive intervention with trained professionals works. It's time to start funding these programs.

karenatlanta

As a parent who has an ASD child with an IEP. I am in a state where, like Florida SB10 school choice is flourishing and keeping the public school on their toes Mike. After Florida adopted special needs choice they went from a handful of private providers to hundreds of schools that rose to the occasion.
Here in GA we can change districts or get monies towards private tuition equal to the public schools spending on our child.
It is empowering and the States that have adopted it are proving that. IEPs have a different tenor when you have other choices besides due process.

I can firmly say IDEA is only a band aid for a much larger problem.
1-5 children by the CDC's own numbers have neurological problems today.
One day they will leave the school system and society will have to figure out how to house and feed them.

Nice that our children have created job security for attorneys, therapists, neurologists and teachers - but one day when you're in a rest home you will be competing with them for social security.

While I won't attempt to defend Sarah Palin from the tidal wave of liberal insults.
I will say her camp has aligned with Lieberman, vaccine choice, Thimerosal poisoning a generation of kids, and increase aid multi-fold in Alaska for special needs.

Realistically, no one person will be our savior in Washington. Reform needs to start with HHS, the CDC and other agencies that claim Thimerosal and a bloated vaccine schedule benefit our kids.
It is troubling that Obama is more concerned with Polio.
It is troubling that he has taken double McCain in Pharma dollars and refuses to contest Thimerosal.

Those outside the world of having a vaccine injured child, don't often see how dangerous this is. We have already fought tooth and nail for vaccine choice language in pandemic bills. For the preservation of the VICP rights during a pandemic.

Personally, our family has spent hundreds of thousands on biomedical treatment, ABA, and diet to recover our son. If the CDC trumps up another pandemic, I want a person in office who will let me choose to opt out of a mandated vaccine.
I would even cross my party line to put that person in office.
I do not want my recovered child or my other genetically susceptible children victimized again by a poorly regulated, corrupt vaccine industry.

Vaccine choice trumps IDEA law, sorry. At some point the DOE will see that throwing money at the problem, raising state standards, redefining IDEA law cannot fix these kids. It is horse before the carriage.

I won ABA in our school district, it was a three year battle which involved educating staff from the bottom up. It meant countless hours of getting them to realize my child had neurological damage not behavior issues.
No amount educational reform can change a generation of children damaged with neurotoxins.
I am not proposing we scrap educational reform, I am proposing we stop poisoning our kids while Pharma profits.

This one issue - vaccine choice/vaccine reform bleeds over into many. If left unaddressed and in its current form, we will become a third world nation.

While special needs attorneys live a comfortable life defending kids educational rights at 300/hr, the rest of us have no insurance coverage for Autism, spend thousands out of pocket detoxing our kids, and are terrorized by the fact that this could so easily happen again.
Please consider this.

Keith

"Giving parents the choice to pick the school is meaningless where there are no schools to pick from that have programs that are backed by replicable research or staffed with qualified providers. How does giving me a $7,000 voucher help cover the costs of an ABA program costing over $50,000 per year?"

well said Mike

however when argued right some have received more than $7K in services (not vouchers though).

But I agree the realities are most wont get that much and there are not enough proper schools. That's why there are several people here in this area working to do so.

And what's with the Obama "socialist" koolaid meme? This current admin (and congress - both sides) has privatized the profits and socialized the losses on wall street - is that not socialism?

I dont care for either candidate but you can't pin that on one but allow it for the other.

Chris

You all might want to read this:

http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2008/09/09/palin-special-needs/

Mike

Shelley,

Is it a "right" to expect that childen and adults with autism have access to insurance coverage to pay for appropriate medical and educational treatments and therapies? It is a "right" to expect government to fund legislation which is designed to provide appropriate educational services, services that have been determined by the US Department of Education to consist of at least 25 hours per week of ABA therapy given by TRAINED professionals?
Also, great idea on just picking up and moving to another state or school district that provides all these wonderful services. Now, if I could only sell my house and find a job in this Fantasyland. I really get a kick out of the whole "socialist" talking point. If socialism is going to secure access to services that are appropriate and necessary for my child then I say BRING IT ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Capitalism has got a whole bunch of pharmaceutical company executives wealthy, a whole bunch of politicians elected, and has created a public health epidemic that will have a greater fiscal impact on this economy that the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

Keith

What Ginger's posting reflects is the overall budget. Looking at just that is a shell game with the money (and what the RNC used to counter that she increased the budget). Again the increase only really reflects money for a new program for at risk teens (to prevent drop outs) which was appropriated under the guise of the total budget for that area which "special needs" falls under.

Do you consider all "at risk teens" to be the same as "special needs" kids?

I don't.

The actual money expenditures for "special needs" is posted by the same Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. Those numbers below reflect the budget for special needs without including the at risk teen program allocation. Those numbers show a drop in funding to special needs.

The Annual budget for 2007, which preceded Gov. Palin was $8,265,300.
http://www.gov.state.ak.us/omb/08_OMB/budget/EED/comp2735.pdf
The Annual budget for 2008, enacted by Gov. Palin is $3,156,000.
http://www.gov.state.ak.us/omb/08_OMB/budget/EED/comp2735.pdf
The Annual budget for 2009, enacted by Gov. Palin is $3,156,000.
http://www.gov.state.ak.us/omb/09_omb/budget/EED/comp2735.pdf

Monica

Kim, with honest respect to you, I believe I have a valid reason to be concerned about the posting of that email. I did not mean to offend, I seriously wondered the reason for it since it was obviously not shedding a fair light on the Palin conversation! Angela, it is not 'beating up' on the "bringer" to state my concern. I am sorry if you felt that I did that. I have AoA as my home page and also like many others, have the ability to listen to both sides, fairly. I do not appreciate it when someone cannot state the facts without clearly misleading the public. The email painted the conversation with Gov. Palin much differently than what actually took place. As shown in the transcript breakdown there was much more to what she was saying than what Ms. Laviano implied! I am not saying anything that isn't in the minds of some people when they read this. I don't read AoA daily to hear personal political digs. That is one of the reasons WHY I made them my homepage! I LOVE that articles can be posted to help us DECIDE on our own, who to vote for & what is going to best help our children! But it is clear to me and others that this email was NOT 100% true. If information is going to be posted to help us and our children, it sure is helpful if they are fair and truthful.

Shelley

As a family law attorney and a mom of a child with autism, I believe we need to shift our focus away from deciding on a candidate based upon all the government programs we want funded for our benefit. We need to think about the big picture, the greater impact to our society and our political system. We need to consider questions like - what is our children's education and health care going to look like under a socialist regime? Guaranteed we will have more intrusion on our parenting rights - the more we expect from the government, the more they will intrude on our rights to make decisions on behalf of our children. They already attempt to force us to vaccinate our children and medicate our children when teachers cannot handle their behavior. Under an Obama regime, we will have centralized electronic medical records where they will keep track of vaccines, medical treatment, etc. In Obama's proposed socialist regime, if the establishment doesn't like the medical and education decisions we make for our children, they will make them for us. If we don't like the educational system, then we should do what other parents do (who don't have special needs children) - move to another school district, put our children in private schools, home school, or just fight the school system ourselves. We are much too "rights" based in our society and need to start thinking of the greater impact of all the "rights" based thinkers. This results in too many special interests groups influencing legislation. We need to stop expecting the federal government to fix our problems and work at a local level to influence the quality of life for our families.

Mike

I am both an attorney and the father of a child with autism. I have taken a number of pro bono cases against school districts to try and secure appropriate services for children with autism. The costs associated with challenging the appropriateness of an IEP are huge. Senator McCains position against a recovery of attorneys fees shows how little he understands on the issue.
In Colorado, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has interpreted Rowley and IDEA as only requiring "access to the classroom". The court has recently held that a school's IEP need only be calculated to provide "some" educational benefit. I recently had a United States District Court judge tell me that he can't imagine any IEP that would not meet this standard. This is a FAR cry from the stated purpose set forth in IDEA to allow children with disabilities to live independent lives. I listened to Governor Palin's policy speech this AM and, frankly, heard nothing that had me jumping up and down for joy. Giving parents the choice to pick the school is meaningless where there are no schools to pick from that have programs that are backed by replicable research or staffed with qualified providers. How does giving me a $7,000 voucher help cover the costs of an ABA program costing over $50,000 per year? It would be nice is the good Governor would actually subject herself to some in-depth questions on the issue.

Pamela

This moning Sarah Palin gave a speech outlining the details of the McCain/Palin plan for special needs children.

I certainly hope that after running this very partisan editorial post, Age of Autism will run a hard news post outlining their newly announced plan.

Kelli Ann Davis

Diane:

It's been mentioned several times on this blog but here's a great piece from Ginger that wraps it up nicely:

http://adventuresinautism.blogspot.com/2008/09/sarah-palin-raised-special-education.html

Kelli

Stagmom

I think that when the election is over, if Obama should win, our community can make it clear that McCain was the clear leader on these important issues and that regardless of who is in office, we are going to fight for vaccination choice and safety. George Bush once proclaimed he'd take Thimerosal out of all vaccines. That hasn't happened. Politicians do not have magic wands, they are politicians, they weigh their choices and the consequences.

Many people are already working behind the scenes to educate Obama's team members should he be elected.

Don't despair, friends. We aren't abandoning our kids who are here, OR the little ones to follow. No way.

Kim

Diane

Kevin -
How long have you been living it? And what are your work hours?

She's been living it for 6 months. Two of those months have been spent running a political campaign, which would imply that she hasn't had much time to be with the child in the manner, let's say, of a mother whose child has severe autism and can no longer work because you can't get a babysitter who can handle that child. I'm not saying that her heart doesn't ache and worry for her child, but she is certainly not deep into the world of special needs yet. Not by a long shot.

Diane

Kelli Ann -

I have read in several places that Palin did NOT increase the budget for Special Education services, but actually slashed it. Do you have any documentation to support this either way? I have read several HuffPo blogs describing a decrease, but none for an increase. This is not confrontational, its just that enquiring minds...you know.

Diane

Kevin Champagne

I have got to agree with Monica, this sounds very bias.

The bottom-line is this ...Governor Sarah Palin has a special needs child and she is living through what most of us are living through everyday and that makes her our best hope for special needs children in the future.

She's not just some talking head politician trying to sound compassionate about this issue ...she is living it!

PhillyMom

I'm with Kelli -- the transcripts are clear -- "equal access" is being misconstrued by Laviano as only relating to physical barriers. You can have all the funding/programs in the world, but if vaccines are mandated (no parental choice) that means access to public schools/day care will be restricted unless you comply to the mandated vaccination schedule. McCain supports parental choice, it seems Obama does not. My vote goes to McCain-Palin.

JenB

In our family's personal circumstances IDEA funding has never seemed likely to make a difference, but I can see how it might with the stamina, brains, and other skills to work the educational system, and with other appropriate interventions in place. It's the "other" interventions that I feel would benefit my daughter most.

For instance, much damage to her would have been prevented if I had just KNOWN not to have her "Kindergarten boosters."

Hours (years really) of individual time spent with my child on educational skills has done nothing compared to just trying the GFCF diet and a few supplements.

I'd like to do more, but am hampered, not exactly by lack of funding, but by a lack of open recognition that 1) these children have been/are being harmed by their environment and 2) that "medicine" is part of that environment.

This has a steep learning curve for some, and requires a willingness to let go of comfortable assumptions that many see as "truths." I had a long-term blind spot to this, even though now I'm appalled at what I failed to recognize. Others in my daughter's family may never see this without more "authoritative" acknowlegement. Gov. Palin may or may not be open to this, although I'm hopeful, because I think she would be honest to the public about it.

McCain's statements about the need to research vaccines and the environment, his efforts in the Senate to sponsor the CAA, have the Verstraten study re-evaluated, to request Senate hearings, and the fact that he has spent time with members of the community seem like evidence to me that he has climbed much of the "learning curve" even without an affected family member as motivation and that he will be open to acknowleging the harm done and to changing our federal "healthcare" system where needed.

He's the only candidate right now that gives me that hope.

Angela Warner

I can not believe what I just read... "I see only one reason...and it isn't for the children."

I thought I was upset with Dr. Boscamp and Dr. Fischer listening to the Forum today... but this takes the cake.

Age of Autism was founded by Generation Rescue for no other reason than to help our families help their children who are all impacted by autism. Kim was asked to be the Managing Editor of AoA because she is an extremely balanced person who happens to be an excellent writer and is obviously quite capable of wearing MANY hats to do her job; of which, first and foremost would be taking care of her three daughters who have autism!

AoA brings us the news. Kim brings us the news. As do many others who work behind the scenes of AoA to bring us the news.

While there may appear to be times when the news is slanted, I think, Monica, you need to go back and look at the history of AoA that has led up to the current political climate that is now manifesting its self.

It is up to you the reader to find that balance and vote based on the research you may or may not choose to do because of what you read.

I will also say that it is one thing to "beat" up on another reader because you may not agree with them (not to suggest that this is ok either), but quite another to beat up on the "bringer" - meaning the team of AoA - of news just because it may not suit your cup of tea.

Wow! I can not believe that you would make the comment that one Op Ed piece in particular - out of so many that could potentially appear to be the same - not for our children.

Man... LOL I keep thinking about all the flyers I've been getting in my mailbox for months promoting or tearing up one candidate or another from one party or another party. What the heck could we all combined make from that??? That would be one heck of a paper mache :) (sp?)

Who's just ready for November 5th, 2008?


Maria B.

Here here, Kim. Thanks for continuing to post all sides.

Maria

Managing Editor

Monica, I rather resent your implication of why I would have posted this email. I work darn hard to keep A of A full of informative posts for readers from all walks of life withou regard to politics. As you see, I haven't posted a single political comment on these posts. I'm simply presenting the info for you, my readers.

Today is a rare political day on A of A. When the politics is relevant to our community, it seems fitting to run posts like this. Just as I ran the Obama piece about his comments on selective vaccination. This is my job. I save my commentary for elsewhere.

This email letter has gone around the country, and since Governor Palin is now holding meetings specifically about special education and is being presented at the "disability Vice President" it seemed important to present an attorney's point of view. I do not know Ms. Laviano, although she happens to live in my area, sheer coincidence on that one. I contacted her today for the first time, for permission to run this letter.

Thank you.

Kim

Monica

Well done, Kelli Ann Davis! The email APPEARS very slanted and makes me wonder why it was necessary to reprint it in AoA. I see only one reason...and it isn't for the children.

Vic

I have a child on the spectrum. I understand firsthand how this topic of funding for our children is extremely important. However, I also have common sense to realize Gov. Palin is getting the cram session of her lifetime to prepare for every question that gets thrown at her. If for one moment you or anyone thinks just because someone is running for VP that means they should answer every question perfectly and to the degree that would please everyone...you're just not being honest. If you sat down with her personally and had time to discuss the whole issue in depth, I believe there would be a different picture painted here.

Kelli Ann Davis

Since Ms. Laviano based a large portion of her letter on Sarah Palin’s interview with Gretta Van Susteren, let’s take a closer look at that exchange:

October 8th, 2008:

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Special needs for children. A lot of mothers out there with children who have all sorts of extra needs. What exactly would you do for them?

PALIN: Well, as governor, I've been a proponent and successful also in getting more funding for special needs children in our schools, in public education.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's government growing.

PALIN: Not when you prioritize for that. And these children who have special needs, they're not a problem, they are a priority. So as long as we can prioritize, I believe and what a lot of Americans believe is right, you allow equal access to good education and you allow opportunities for kids with special needs, even if that asks to you shift some of the funding that maybe went in another area, maybe growing bureaucracy in a local school district -- instead of that, get that money into the classrooms so that all kids, not just the kids with special needs, so that all kids can benefit from those public dollars, be more accountable and prioritizing better for public dollars in our schools. That's what I've been a proponent of and have affected change there.

Now, let’s look at some of Ms. Laviano’s statements:

**Our problems are not that children with disabilities aren't allowed into the buildings; our problem is what happens when they get there!**

Access *and* OPPORTUNITY, Ms. Laviano. Those were her words.

**It is not terribly surprising to me that Gov. Palin's views on this are so far outdated.**

And exactly what *ideas* (plural) are you judging as “outdated” Ms. Laviano? As far as I can tell she made a foundational statement about our children being a *priority* -- even in the face of a rebuttal statement denouncing her increased funding as “growing government” – during a short interview where many topics were discussed.

**This issue should be front and center for any candidate for the White House, and I write to let you know that, at least as far as Gov. Palin is concerned, it has been an opportunity not only missed, but frighteningly misunderstood.**

Again, how has the *opportunity* been missed when she’s only been the VP candidate for approximately 6 weeks?? In her short time as Governor (approximately 21 months) she’s increased special education funding almost three times! By my calculations, that’s pretty darn aggressive considering her short time in office.

Missed opportunity? I think not.

Kelli Ann Davis

Keith

Kelli

you need to look into the Alaska numbers stating she "tripled" that budget. Indeed that branch saw an increase but the actual amount allocated to what are truly "special needs" DECREASED.

All you have to do is look at that departments numbers.

The increase went mostly to a program for at risk young for vocational training to reduce dropouts. Certainly a noble gesture and cause but as a result the actual money going to special needs decreased from previous budgets.

The devil is in the details. It's all there when you separate that out from the overall budget picture.

IDEA needs to be fully funded. It has not been fair to the students, teachers, states, school districts that the Federal government requires these laws but doesnt pay for them. It puts the burden on the states and the school districts who have to play games with the $ and services. As a result the kids suffer and parent have to resort to due process or grievance filings.

This holds true not only for kids with autism but all other kinds of needs (physical and mental).

Fully funding IDEA is a big deal. I DOUBT it would get done. The economy is too in the sh|ts and it's one of those goals that has and will be put on the backburner.

Michelle

Perfectly stated Kelli Ann!

Kelli Ann Davis

"I am in regular contact with a colleague of mine who is a Parents' attorney in Alaska, who has had to fight tooth and nail for children with special needs in Alaska simply to secure them the most basic of services that we take for granted here."

Sounds like your colleague, who's been fighting "tooth and nail", has been doing it for a while since it usually takes time to go through the process, no?

Sarah Palin was elected Governor in November 2006. She's been in office approximately 21 months and has almost *tripled* the special education budget in that short amount of time.

You're an attorney Ms. Laviano and as such, you should know that the success of any case is making sure your argument is supported by the *FACTS* -- and in this instance, you're off base.

Kelli Ann Davis

PS...For the record, I think Heather Bruce did an awesome job on Autism One radio yesterday and I want to take this time to publicly thank her sharing her personal story with the autism community. Kudos Heather!

Keith

Thanks Jennifer

I think IDEA really gets overlooked here.

I was glad to hear someone talk about fully funding IDEA. IF they did so we could probably get the schools to pay for many therapies they stall on now if they just had the money to do so.

As far as vaccines, I don't think it matters who you get in - we still have an up hill fight on the vaccine issue. I think they are say one thing when running and do another once in office (it's what Bush did). I think McCain is just giving lip service for support to draw in votes from this base. He has flip-flopped on other issues since his campaign in 2000 (things he strongly believed in then) in what I would describe is "say anything to get elected" manner. Who to say he won't continue this pattern?

But that's not to say Obama wont flip on IDEA either. Especially in the economic world.


Leila

Thank you for posting this very detailed critique. I've always been curious to see one iota of knowledge from Palin on special needs other than her having a baby with Down Syndrome who apparently she doesn't spend a lot of time with. Once again, she demonstrates no knowledge on yet another crucial issue.

Menny JcCarthy

EPIDEMIC (def - Merriam-Webster 2008)

1: affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time
2 a: excessively prevalent b: contagious 4
3: of, relating to, or constituting an epidemic

Angela Warner

IDEA has never been funded as the government promised through several administrations, through both party lines. During a conversation I had with Dr. Edward Yazbak about a year ago, he told me that IDEA was funded roughly anywhere from 16 to 23% consistently.

I have battled my district for four years to get appropriate services for my younger son Nathan. It has been hell! I have gone head to head at all levels of school admin including at the state level.

One of the most important things I have said to these people when battling for my son is that our school districts from the local level to the state level need to be taking a more active role in ensuring that IDEA is funded the full 40% promised by the federal government. Instead they sit on their laurels and do nothing. To me personally it is a cop out to blame this entirely on the federal government and legislators and governors at the state level. It is up to the people to hold them accountable. My personal opinion is that teachers and school admin all the way to the top should be on the front lines advocating for our schools and our children.

It is rare anymore to find a district totally on top of it, and if they are it soon doesn't last because word gets out and people move to get better services. I have seen that in my own district. It happens everywhere all the time.

Because they all have sat on their laurels - fell asleep at the wheel - what ever you want to call it - not only are programs that fall under IDEA hurting and severely, our general education programs and extra-cirricular activities are suffering as well. How is this fair to any of our children?

Just my .02 and hopefully some food for thought.

Debi

Your interpretation of what Governor Palin meant may be very different of what she actually meant. When I read "equal access" I interpreted it to mean equality inside the classroom, not access to a building. To me, equal access also means a free, appropriate public education to those with special needs just like those of neurotypical status.

I would suggest that being a particular side slants our interpretations. Since you are liberal, you tend to view conservative statements in a negative assumption, just as I tend to do with liberal views. Doesn't really make either of us right/wrong, just unable for either of us to be completely fair in judging the other candidate.

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