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Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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3-24-17 Education in the News

NJ Spotlight--Opinion: Finding the Right Fit for Charters and Special-Needs Students

Accusations that charters don’t want to deal with special-ed costs and challenges are getting us — and our children — nowhere

Within the foxholes of New Jersey’s charter school wars, the target de jour is special education, specifically the accusation by school-choice opponents that alternative public schools intentionally discriminate against children with special needs. In posh Princeton, the charter school there just received approval to expand its enrollment by 76 students, and a primary line of attack is that Princeton Charter School enrolls far fewer students with disabilities.

Up north in underprivileged Newark, the Education Law Center is marshalling resources to launch an assault against the approval of a 7,500-seat expansion of seven high-performing charter schools. According to ELC executive director David Sciarra, one of the ways that charters afflict traditional districts is through the “segregation of students by disability.”


Laura Waters | March 24, 2017


The Atlantic--How a New Supreme Court Ruling Could Affect Special Education

Advocates for students with disabilities argue the decision could help millions of children.

In a stunning 8-0 decision in the case Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a higher standard of education for children with disabilities. Advocates and parents say the case dramatically expands the rights of special-education students in the United States, creates a nationwide standard for special education, and empowers parents as they advocate for their children in schools. But critics say the decision will not have any impact on schools, arguing that the vast majority already provide a good education for those kids.

As I explained in January, the parents of Endrew F. removed him from his local public school, where he made little progress, and placed him in a private school, where they said he made “significant” academic and social improvement.

In 2012, Drew’s parents filed a complaint with the Colorado Department of Education to recover the cost of tuition at the school, which is now about $70,000 per year. The lower courts ruled on behalf of the school district on the grounds that the intent of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is to ensure handicapped kids have access to public education—not to guarantee any particular level of education once inside. But the parents appealed, with the case eventually landing at the Supreme Court.

The case revolved around a central question: Must schools provide a meaningful education in which children show significant progress and are given substantially equal opportunities as  typical children, or can they provide an education that results in just some improvement?


Laura McKenna| Mar 23, 2017


Education Week--Parents See Benefits in Spec. Ed. Vouchers, But No Silver Bullet

While the senators were lecturing, Tera Myers was fuming.

Myers, the mother of an adult son with Down syndrome, had traveled to Washington to support Betsy DeVos, then the nominee for U.S. secretary of education, during her confirmation hearing. DeVos, a staunch supporter of school choice programs such as vouchers, faced pointed questioning from skeptical lawmakers at the January hearing. Several of them said that such options leave students with disabilities behind.

Myers, who lives in Mansfield, Ohio, said she felt the questions were deeply unfair. Not only had a voucher program helped Myers provide the best education for her son, she said, but the choice options had pushed school districts in her area to improve their offerings as well.

"No one, from my perspective, is saying, 'I don't like public school,' " Myers said. "I believe, just from my experience, the competition has created better public schools and better private schools."

But in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Lynn Ambert watched the same hearing live on C-SPAN with far more skepticism. Her 9-year-old son is eligible for a voucher under Florida's program, and she wanted to use it. However, no private school in her area will accept Ayden, who has autism and behavioral disabilities. Even the schools that advertised on their websites that they offered behavioral programs turned her away.


Christina A. Samuels|March 21, 2017


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608