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Portland teachers are striking — how does Special Education fit in?
The second part of my State of Special Education series is out in PDX Parent magazine this month
Could this year finally be the turning point for Portland Public Schools’ special education system? That’s the question many in my community seem to be asking as the Portland Association of Teachers pickets on street corners and fills social media with its materials. After months of a stalemate with district administrators, the teacher’s union is conducting the first-ever teacher strike in the district’s 172-year history.
The legislature, for their part, seems to have washed their hands of the whole ordeal. In a letter sent this week to the PPS school board, legislative leaders pointed out the record-breaking amount of money they allocated to schools this session.
That $10.2 billion will get added to local sources to make $15.3 billion in all — which averages out to about $14,000 per year for the state’s half-million K-12 students.
For the second part of my PDX Parent series on the State of Special Education in Portland, I explored what the Oregon legislature passed and didn’t pass for the state’s schools during its highly unusual 2023 session. (The legislature was shut down for several weeks when a Republican walkout denied the senate a quorum, leading to a lot of disappointment and a flurry of last-minute bills.)
I encourage you to read the full piece as it contains a number of items I have yet to see elsewhere. For example, public records requests revealed that PPS spent $80,000 on a report that clearly outlined the need for a redesign of its special education system. Find out what the district says it plans to do about it. Also: What happened to a bill that would have eliminated the cap on special education funds? And just how many complaints have been filed under a new law that could take funding away from a district for putting a disabled child on a shortened (or nonexistent) school day?
Read all about it on pages 12-15 of the digital edition of PDX Parent magazine or on news rack throughout the metro area. EDIT: You can read the web version here: https://pdxparent.com/special-education-funding-pdx/
Didn’t read the first part in the series? That one is right here:
Medical Motherhood’s news round up
Snippets of news and opinion from outlets around the world. Click the links for the full story.
• From Oregon Capital Chronicle: “Oregon’s Medicaid renewal process boots eligible children, adults off the plan”
Several thousand low-income people have been booted off Medicaid in Oregon even though they still qualify for the free health and dental insurance, while thousands of others have been told they will retain coverage even though they don’t qualify.
Many of those who’ve lost benefits are children.
The Oregon Health Authority said in a news release Thursday that “medical benefits for 2,268 people had incorrectly ended at the end of September.” It added that “1,226 people incorrectly received notices explaining that their benefits would end at the end of October.”
It’s unclear whether even more have wrongly lost coverage, whether those two groups are related or how many children have been affected overall.
The Capital Chronicle asked the agency about this problem more than a month ago, and it has still failed to answer basic questions about the children.
Losing coverage could cause hardships for families inadvertently booted from the program, especially if they need specialized or intensive care.
[…]“We will send affected people a new notice in November that their benefits have been restored or are continuing,” the news release said.
But members of families whose coverage is being resumed after being terminated could later face losing coverage. Heartquist said that the eligibility of each member of the family will be reviewed.
Medicaid members will also need to keep their eyes on Medicaid notices next year, when renewals resume again.
• From Stars and Stripes: “DODEA to trim special education, mainstream students with learning disabilities”
Defense Department schools are moving students with learning disabilities into general education classrooms for some subjects, a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense Education Activity – Pacific confirmed Friday.
Special education students will be transitioned out of dedicated classes in areas like math and English language arts and into general education, Miranda Ferguson wrote in an emailed statement to Stars and Stripes on Friday. DODEA administers schools for eligible children on U.S. military bases worldwide.
The students will continue to have access to “differentiated, direct instruction” from a special education teacher who will co-teach and collaborate with general education staff, she said.
[…]The move follows an Indiana University study released in May in the Journal of Special Education that found students with disabilities spending 80% more time in inclusive classrooms fare better in reading and math than peers in special education classrooms.
The research indicates these students are “more prepared” for successful post-secondary education and employment, according to an abstract on a Department of Education website. […]
• From the Santa Fe New Mexican: “Lawmakers revisit 'secret settlements' involving children, disabled adults in state custody”
The state paid $1.5 million last year to settle a lawsuit alleging a brother and sister suffered severe abuse while they were in foster care.
The estate of a 2-year-old foster child who died from abuse-related injuries a few months after he was returned to his mother received a $400,000 settlement in 2022.
The state also paid nearly $1 million to settle a case involving two brothers who alleged they were sexually abused in their foster home.
None of the three settlements received any attention because the state withheld them from the New Mexico Sunshine Portal, the official transparency and accountability website for state government.
A recent report on the Risk Management Division of the General Services Department found the agency routinely omits settlements involving minors and disabled adults from the Sunshine Portal, keeping taxpayers — and the Legislature — in the dark.
[…]Thursday’s report follows an initial presentation Fischer delivered to the Legislative Finance Committee in September. Her report found “some of the highest cost settlements involving, for instance, those around child death or abuse at the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) never reach the Legislature.”
Robert Doucette Jr., Cabinet secretary of the General Services Department, told the Legislative Finance Committee in September his agency had withheld some settlements from the Sunshine Portal “out of concern for the children and disabled.”
[…]A total of 30 settlements haven’t been posted to the Sunshine Portal since 2019, he said.[…]
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