Posts Tagged ‘disability & schools’

Schools and childhood roundup

  • Stop active-shooter drills in schools: “Preparing our children for profoundly unlikely events would be one thing if that preparation had no downside. But in this case, our efforts may exact a high price.” [Erika Christakis, The Atlantic] “Lockdowns and active-shooter drills have led to officers firing blank rounds to simulate live fire, mock executions of teachers, and students tearfully writing out wills while hunkered down. …Last year, The Post reported an estimate that the odds of a child being fatally shot while at school any given day since 1999 was 1 in 614,000,000.” [Jonathan Blanks, Washington Post/Cato]
  • After ordeal with Child Protective Services based on drug test fluke, Western New York mom “is certain of one thing, she’ll never eat a poppy seed again.” [WROC]
  • Answer: no. “Should access to a public education be a constitutional right for all children?” [Jessica Campisi, Education Dive; Mark Walsh, Education Week, covering AEI debate on holding of 1973 Supreme Court case of San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez against such a federal right]
  • Pay attention to the politics of schools of education, because they help determine what you’ll see in the classroom down the road [Jay Schalin, Martin Center] More: University of Washington’s Secondary Teacher Education Program “is a 12-month immersion in doctrinaire social justice activism.” [Quillette]
  • “The Regressive Effects of Childcare Regulations” [Cato video with Ryan Bourne]
  • “Court revives Obama-era rule that incentivizes racial quotas in special ed” [Liam Bissainthe]

College admissions scandal: “most of these kids don’t even have issues, but they’re getting time.”

For 20 years I’ve been writing about how the gaming of disability diagnoses in schools helps affluent families. And I was hardly alone: in 2004 Craig Lerner wrote a paper entitled: “‘Accommodations’ for the Learning Disabled: A Level Playing Field or Affirmative Action for Elites?” There hasn’t been much interest in fixing things.

Now test accommodations have surfaced as one key theme in the big and colorful new college-admissions scandal. “Particularly glaring in the 204-page indictment is that the majority of the children, whose parents were charged Tuesday, had seamlessly secured disability accommodations on their standardized tests. This enabled them to have additional time on the exams and to take them alone with the proctor at a private testing facility that was located, in some cases, thousands of miles from the test-takers’ residences.” [Michelle Robertson, SFGate/New Haven Register] More: Akira Olivia Kumamoto, Sacramento Bee; FBI affidavit on new scandal; Doree Lewak, New York Post last year on accommodations.

Higher education roundup

  • Administrators at University of Southern Maine, a public institution, hastily yank course that offered credit for harassing Sen. Susan Collins on Kavanaugh nomination [Dennis Hoey, Portland Press Herald, USM press release] Some colleges would rally around an alumnus nominated to the high court, while others would maintain institutional neutrality. At Yale a large faction demanded a commitment to opposition [Peter Schuck, Minding the Campus; related Twitter thread (“2018: the year of weaponizing college friendships”)]
  • Canadian university suspends economics professor without pay for publishing journal article documenting colleagues’ publication in questionable scholarly journals [Douglas Todd/Vancouver Sun, paper]
  • Q. How many lampooned academics does it take to appreciate the Helen Pluckrose / James Lindsay / Peter Boghossian grievance studies hoax? A. That is *not* funny [Alexander C. Kafka, Chronicle of Higher Education rounding up reactions]
  • Notwithstanding “enforcement will be consistent with the First Amendment” disclaimer, language in U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights ruling could pressure universities to restrict some criticism of Israel [Eugene Volokh]
  • “As many as one in three students at some elite colleges have been officially designated ‘disabled.'” [Garland Tucker, Martin Center] “ADA in the Classroom: Suitable Accommodation or Legalized Cheating?” [Ari Trachtenberg, 2016]
  • “Taking the Bar Exam as a 46-Year-Old Law Professor” [Orin Kerr]

Higher education roundup

  • New York Times tackles a story of lopsided Title IX process [Michael Powell, NYT on Keith Mumphery Michigan State case] Federal court spanks Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island over kangaroo court [KC Johnson, Minding the Campus] U.S. Department of Justice “has filed a statement of interest in a lawsuit challenging the University of Michigan’s controversial speech code policies” [Nikita Vladimirov, Campus Reform]
  • “Judges,” he told the crowd, “cannot be intimidated,” and “Lawsuits are won and lost in the courtrooms, not in the streets.” Gail Heriot gives Stanley Mosk his due;
  • Suing for faculty positions: “While I find it regrettable that university faculties are so politicized that good candidates like Teresa Manning get rejected, I think it would be even worse to have some law or regulation against discrimination based on politics.” [George Leef]
  • “As many as one in four students at some elite U.S. colleges are now classified as disabled, largely because of mental-health issues such as depression or anxiety, entitling them to a widening array of special accommodations like longer time to take exams” [Douglas Belkin, WSJ]
  • Diversity follies in STEM [Heather Mac Donald, City Journal] University of Michigan employs 93 full-time diversity staffers [Mark Perry]
  • “Six Ideas to De-Politicize the American Campus” [Martin Center]

Schools roundup

  • “Wyoming: Efforts to strip state courts of jurisdiction to hear K-12 funding lawsuits reintroduced; courts could declare funding system unconstitutional but could not order more funding” [Gavel To Gavel, more on school finance litigation]
  • Coalition of accusers’-rights groups sue Education Department demanding restoration of earlier Obama versions Title IX guidance [KC Johnson Twitter thread pointing out weaknesses in suit]
  • “A High School Student Faces Expulsion for Noticing the Square Root Symbol Looks Like a Gun” [Scott Shackford]
  • How a political machine based on the schools lobby ran one affluent suburban county (Montgomery County, Maryland) before fumbling its grip [Adam Pagnucco, The Seventh State]
  • Costs approach $1M in Southern California special ed dispute over one student’s education [Ashly McGlone, San Diego Union-Tribune]
  • Japan: “Of course, this ignores the absurdity that students are being required, or feel required, to dye their hair because of a policy that was supposedly meant to prohibit students from dying their hair.” [Lowering the Bar]

Florida shooter had been chronic disciplinary problem. “Could school system have done more?”

Amid horrendous misbehavior attributed to his emotional and behavioral disabilities, the future shooter was shuttled among various Broward County schools, including an episode being “mainstreamed” at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS, scene of his later atrocity. Under the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which has been intensively litigated over the years, “school districts are required to provide kids with physical, emotional or intellectual disabilities a free education in the ‘least restrictive’ setting, and to accommodate the needs of such students.” [Carol Marbin Miller and Kyra Gurney, Miami Herald] He “was well-known to school and mental health authorities and was entrenched in the process for getting students help rather than referring them to law enforcement….Beginning in 2013, Broward stopped referring students to police for about a dozen infractions ranging from alcohol and drug use to bullying, harassment and assault,” under influence of national campaign against “school-to-prison pipeline.” [Tim Craig, Emma Brown, Sarah Larimer and Moriah Balingit, Washington Post]

From the comments: better safe than sued

Sunday’s ADA-and-the-web post prompted some useful reader discussion. Commenter Jim Collins told this story:

A while back I went to community college. I was recovering from an injury and in a vocational rehabilitation program. Part of the program was working for the college. We had a grant for computer workstations. At that time there was a shortage of computers at the college. We had a large room assigned to us and we were to cram in as many workstations as we could. When I submitted my layout I had 60 workstations in the room. I was asked how many were wheelchair accessible? I said “The front twenty.” I was told that all of the workstations had to be wheelchair accessible because the college didn’t want to have the chance of a lawsuit. In the end we could only fit 40 workstations. We lost 20 workstations. The part that got me was that the room we were assigned was on the second floor of a building. The building was grandfathered in and didn’t have wheelchair access. Another thing was that in the history of the college the most students that they ever had in wheelchairs was five.

“The Pyrrhic Victory For The Disabled”

As noted in posts here and at Cato, the University of California, Berkeley is considering taking down free online course content rather than expose itself to liability and litigation over its possible lack of accessibility for some disabled users. One irony: even if the welfare of disabled persons is treated as the only important outcome, the application of the ADA is probably going to do harm, because online alternatives to classroom instruction are particularly valuable to disabled persons, notably those with impaired mobility. [Alex Tabarrok, FEE (“The ADA Attack on Online Courses Hurts the Disabled Too”) Scott Greenfield (from whom title is taken); The Suburbanist (“So if your disability keeps you homebound, then the ADA will prevent you from viewing online courses.”); Preston Cooper, Forbes.

Berkeley, facing accessibility demands, may take down free online course content

Advancing a trend we’ve been warning about, the University of California, Berkeley, said it may have to take down educational course content posted free online for the benefit of the public due to an ongoing conflict with the U.S. Department of Justice over whether it is obliged to accompany the content with expensive captioning and other technological assists to make it more accessible to disabled visitors. I’ve got a write-up at Cato. More: Robby Soave, Reason; Andrej Karpathy Twitter thread about withdrawal of computer science videos; earlier on web accessibility. And this tweet, from Prof. Sam Bagenstos responding to Soave’s article, represents the culmination of the entire civil rights model.

Schools roundup