Saturday, August 2, 2008

From the Week of July 27th

SUPERSTARS OF ADVOCACY. When people call us or email us with questions about IEPs, 504s, or advocating for their student, we send them right off to the Wrightslaw website, founded by Peter and Pam Wright. The Wrights also publish a weekly email newsletter, Special Ed Advocate, with content to help parents advocate for children, and the topics often seem relevant to educators as well. During this summer the newsletter has concentrated on "Summer School for Parents." For example, this week's edition is about measuring educational test scores and why parents must understand test scores; the newsletter comes complete with assignments and readings. Also included in this issue: tips on getting a private, comprehensive, independent evaluation to identify learning issues and a plan for addressing those issues. See the the July 29th edition of Special Ed Advocate or go here for the archives.

"I BELIEVE CHILDREN WHO DON'T LEARN TO READ ARE THE VICTIMS OF 'TEACHING DISABILITIES.'" That's what 76-year-old educator Don McCabe says
in an interview with EdNews.org's columnist Michael Shaughnessy about reading problems in students. McCabe, who says he's dyslexic, AD/HD, and CAPD (which makes him, along with his presumed exceptional high abilities, 4e, right?), has written an autobiography called To Teach a Dyslexic. Read the interview. (You can also read the interview that Shaughnessy did with us, the publishers of 2e Newsletter, awhile back; find that interview here.)

LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT. Once, while kayaking in a pleasant, shallow stream in Michigan, I came upon my younger son, whom my wife and partner had just kicked out of her two-person kayak; he was wading back down the stream to Lake Michigan. The reason he had been kicked out, apparently, was that when she'd say "paddle left," he'd paddle right -- and vice versa. We still kid him about his occasional lapses in differentiating right from left and worry a little about what it might mean for him as he drives a car. This week, the Washington Post published a piece by a woman who starts off the article with "I can't tell left from right," and then goes on to summarize her experiences and what she's learned about research
("precious little") in the area. She reports no link between left/right confusion and handedness (lefty or righty), but reports that women are more likely to admit the confusion than men. The author even discovered a blog site with a conversation on the topic. Left-click here :-) to read her article.

HOW ARE KIDS DOING? Two reports released recently focus on America's children and teens. One, America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2008, is a federal government report of data on issues related to children and families. The Forum on Child and Family Statistics says this about the indicators they report on: "
Indicators are chosen because they are easy to understand; are based on substantial research connecting them to child well-being; vary across important areas of children's lives; are measured regularly so that they can be updated and show trends over time; and represent large segments of the population, rather than one particular group. The indicators are organized into seven sections, each focusing on a domain relevant to children's lives: family and social environment; economic circumstances; health care; physical environment and safety; behavior; education; and health. Find the report. The second report, The State of Our Nation's Youth, "compiles the results of a national survey conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates on behalf of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. The poll was conducted via telephone to 1,006 teens between 13-19 years old residing in the U.S during April 2008," according to a press release. The report is to be released August 5th and will be available for download.

ON THE AD/HD FRONT. Two news items
this week about AD/HD caught our attention. One, by an MD at Harvard Medical School, described how low levels of iron in a child's blood may cause symptoms that suggest AD/HD. Read it. The other, an article at MedPage Today, described the prevalences of AD/HD and learning disabilities over recent years; according to a government study, the prevalence of AD/HD has increased slightly since 1997 but the number of LD children without AD/HD has remained unchanged. The report also discusses the co-occurrence of LDs and AD/HD. (For the report, learning disability was defined "to include specific items related to listening, speaking, basic reading skills, reading comprehension, written expression, mathematical calculation and reasoning.") Find the article.

MORE THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT. Here's the lead sentence from a Reuters Health article: "
Children whose mothers used cell phones frequently during pregnancy and who are themselves cell phone users are more likely to have behavior problems, new research shows." Read the article. And here's the lead sentence from a University of Michigan press release: "University of Michigan researchers are studying connections between air toxins and K-12 student performance in Michigan -- and possibly whether air quality should be a factor when deciding where to build public schools." Read it.


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