Thursday, September 27, 2007

LD Podcast #66 Child Find, National Reading and Math Report Card, and Should Kids Study More Science & Math?

In today's show, I talk about the latest LD Newsm including:

*A recent court case reported by Peter Wright, Special Education lawyer and legal expert, and his great online resource, . This case, Jamie S. v. Milwaukee Public Schools (E.D. WI, Case # 01-C-928), dealt with whether or not the Miwaukee Schools were adequately finding children in need of special education help and intervention. In this class action case, many children who could have used evaluations and interventions were denied these, in favor of more expedient "punishments" such as suspending a child rather than trying to get to the bottom of any problem behaviors in school. The schools defended themselves as trying to avoid stigmatizing children with a special education label, but in fact, were not doing their duty to identify and provide services to these children in the educational setting under the requirements of the IDEA.

*The new "Nation's Report Card" on Reading and Math have come out, showing a slight improvement of 2 points in the average 4th grade reading and math levels; a closing of the racial gap by one point. This seems like pretty meager progress, and it still holds true that only 34% of all children are testing proficient or advanced on the reading test. This means the gains are pretty much limited to moving children from the below basic to basic only reading levels.

*Lastly, I talk about a survey that shows while businesses are desperate for more highly trained students in science and math, many parents seem to think the science and math curriculum is adequate. This either means parents are not getting the message of the continued importance in this global economy of making sure our children are well educated, or we are doing a poor job of communicating the importance of a science education beyond the lab.

The LD Podcast is joining a new podcasting network= more information coming soon!

In the near future, short "the Best of the LD Podcast" shows will be available on LD Online, one of the best and most comprehensive LD resources on the world wide web. More on this as it becomes available!

We are contemplating trying a call-in show- if you would be interested in trying this format, please drop me an email at

Bumper music courtesy of Al Renkle's song, Lemonade, Podsafe Music Network

Click here to download Show #66: Child Find and more

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

LD Podcast#65: What are you waiting for? Tell them Now!

We're back after our Podcamp Philly induced hiatus.

There's lots of exciting things in store for the LD Podcast in the upcoming weeks. Today's show features some of the latest news in the LD world, including a study that reports 8.7% of kids may have ADHD, but that many kids, especially those from lower socio-economic families may be under-diagnosed. We discuss a school for kids with LD in the Philly-area, and more evidence that shows appropriate reading instruction can actually reverse the neurological differences in the brains of kids with dyslexia, so that they read and process language closer to that of their non-dyslexic peers.

This summer, I heard a moving episode of This American Life, a great show produced by WBEZ , Chicago Public radiom and distributed by Public Radio International. The show is entitled Special Ed, and has three moving stories of people with developmental disabilities. The whole show is simply amazing, and each story spoke to me. I really wanted to share some of it with you, and wrote the producers to ask if that was at all possible.

Seth Lind, Production manager from This American Life, got back to me and TAL generously agreed to let me play up to 5 minutes of the show on air, with credit. I decided to use the introduction to the show, because it talks about how sometimes, kids seem to be the last to know that they are different, special, and not always in a good way. As Ira Glass talks to several kids, we see how hurt they are to find out they're different.

I see parents all the time who are embarrassed by their child's learning disabilities. They try to couch taking meds as merely taking vitamins, or otherwise disguise the disability. Merely covering up an LD doesn't make it go away, though. It's part of a child's neurology, their make-up, who they are. And we have to get comfortable with it, and let them be comfortable with it, in order to figure out ways to deal with it.

Just imagine if you tried to give someone chemotherapy without ever telling them they had cancer. If you don;t acknowledge the problem, big or small, you can't being to deal with it or solve it. And your child should not be the last one to know they have an issue.

If there's one message I can impart it's this: Learning disabilities are not fatal. They are as natural as having brown hair, or blue eyes. It's a part of who a person is, and it's nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.

The song today is Lend me Your Love by Slackstring- It's available both through iTunes and the Podsafe Music network.

Click here to download Show #65, What Are You Waiting For? Tell Them Now!

(This American Life is also available as a podcast, and it's one of my favorites. I strongly recommend this episode as well as every show, and would encourage you also to support your local public radio station.)

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