IDEA Reauthorization 2019

IDEA was last reauthorized by Congress in 2004 with implementing regulations published in 2006.  Reauthorization was legislated so as to update and improve IDEA every 5 years based upon yearly information contained in the mandated Annual Report to Congress on the status of IDEA.

Read the full paper by Marilyn Arons.

IDEA Reauthorization 2019

MAC Autumn News 2018

  1. STATES DEFICIENT IN IMPLEMENTING SPECIAL EDUCATION (Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop, 7/25/18) Less than half of the states in America are meeting their obligations to disabled students during 2016-2017. 21 states were designated as “Meets requirements” by the U.S. Department of Education, remaining states labeled “needs assistance”, with the exception of Michigan and Washington, D.C. Both “required intervention”. States meeting requirements were Connecticut, Georgie, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire. Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.
  2. 7% of preterm infants have autism (S. Agrawal et al, Pediatrics.2018; doi:10.1052/peds.2018-0134).Children with autism spectrum disorder in the general population is reported at 0.76%. However, a study in Pediatrics suggests that 7% of babies born prematurely have ASD. It is thought that whatever begins the preterm process creates abnormal pathways of brain development, making a “perfect storm” of genetic background and environmental exposure.
  3. The Schoolhouse Gate- Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind (Justin Driver, Pantheon, 2018) presents the key issues facing public education today. Nothing comes close to the Supreme Courts governance of public schools as seen through an overview of decisions from the 1920s to the present. Brown v. Board of Education, decided in 1954, ruled that separate schooling by race was inherently unequal. Since that time, the Court has undone much of that legacy. (The Court and the Classroom, Dana Goldstein, New York Times Book Review, 9/23/18)
  4. Lost in the Special Education Labyrinth (Elizabeth Harris, The New York Times, 10/7/18) examined special education in New York City. More than 200,000 students are in the system, with disabilities ranging from mild dyslexia to complex physical disorders.At least 50,000 did not receive the education to which they were entitled in the 2016-2017 school-year. The convoluted, broken system does not allow students to be tracked, or parents to be advised of their rights.  Recommended services never materialize and nobody is available to intervene except the few parents who can devote the time needed to navigate the system.
  5. Between Hope and Fear/ A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity (Michael Kinch, Pegasus Books) presents the history of vaccinations, as well as the anti-vaccination movement. This is viewed as an important book, especially for those who question the efficacy of vaccines. (Protecting the Herd, Henry Marsh, New York Times Book Review, 9/9/18)
  6. There is no good evidence that learning styles actually exist (You’re not a “Visual Learner”, Daniel Willingham, The New York Times, 10/7/18) Though teachers are trained to individualize instruction to match the way the student learns, research disputes this theory. Whether an auditory learner, a visual learner, or a kinesthetic learner, these perceptions must not be a self-fulfilling prophecy or an excuse for failure. Learners need to transform their thinking to match the task.

A Russell-Silver Syndrome Case Study

This case study examines the growth and development of a toddler with Russell Silver Syndrome (more…)

DOE Meeting


MAC Trustee and Director after a meeting with the DOE concerning an unfinished MAC project. Look for details later in the Fall on this website.

MAC News, Summer 2018

News articles of interest to the MAC community.

Teaching neuroscience through comics- Matteo Farinella is a neuroscientist and artist who figured out a way to teach neuroscience to a lay audience. He uses comics to present a guided tour of the brain for a layperson. It was first published in 2013 and is available online.  He hopes that his comics can change attitudes about science. You can be introduced to his work by going to neurocomics. (Columbia, Spring/Summer 2018)

Brain networks in autism- The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health analyzed more than 1,000 brain scans of those with autism, finding new insights into their functioning.  A newly developed approach examined individual brain networks with more precision that prior studies. It found that the brains of two people with autism are different from each other, in a difference larger than differences in brains of two people without autism.  Six brain regions were mapped using Personalized Intrinsic Network Topography (PINT) Results showed that these brain networks may not only be disconnected but also displaced. The problem in treatment is the wide variability in individuals with autism spectrum disorder.  This study emphasizes the importance of accounting for individual differences to develop innovative and personalized treatment approaches. The lead author of the study is Dr. Erin Dickie (Science Daily, May 14, 2018,

Brain Function Firm Misled- Neurocore, a “brain performance” business backed by Betsy DeVos, has agreed to stop advertising success rates because it could not provide  support for its claims. DeVos and her husband gave $5 million to the company which claimed to cure a variety of maladies. (Brain-Function Firm Backed by DeVos Misled in Ads, Eric Green, The New York Times, June 27, 2018)

Special Education Enrollments Increase – The number of those in special education has increased from 6.6 million in 2013-2014 to 6.7 million in 2015-2016.  This constitutes 13.2 percent of all students in classrooms across the country. Slightly more than 1/3 had specific learning disabilities, 20% had speech or language impairments, 14% were classified as other health impaired, 9% had autism, 6% had developmental delay, and 6% had an intellectual disability.  (Shaun Heasley, Special Education Enrollment Trends Upward, June 5, 2018, Disability Scoop)

MAC News Updates – Winter 2018

News articles of interest to the MAC community.

IEP Requirements Starting in 2017

Many parents and professionals have no understanding about what the IEP is in special education or how it is to be developed. MAC will focus on this critical area for the entirety of the 2017-2018 school year. The current law for IEP development comes from the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States in Endrew F v. Douglas School Dist., March 22, 2017. Excerpts follow from that decisionthat explain what an IEP is, its purpose, and the process for its development.

The essential function of an IEP is to set out a plan for pursuing academic and functional advancement…the degree of progress contemplated by the IEP must be appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances…that child’s educational program must be appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances. The Act contemplates that this fact-intensive exercise will be informed not only by the expertise of school officials, but also by the input of the child’s parents or guardians. The goals may differ, but every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives. The IEP is the centerpiece of (IDEA’s) education delivery system for disabled children.

The adequacy of a given IEP turns on the unique circumstances of the child for whom it was created. The nature of the IEP process ensures that parents and school representatives will fully air their respective opinions on the degree of progress a child’s IEP should pursue; thus, by the time any dispute reaches court, school authorities will have had the chance to bring their expertise and judgment to bear on areas of disagreement. A focus on the particular child is at the core of IDEA. The nature of the IEP process, from the initial consultation through state administrative proceedings, ensures that parents and school representatives will fully air their respective opinions on the degree of progress a child’s IEPshould pursue.

Every IEP include(s) “a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance”, describe(s) “how the child’s disability affects the child’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum”, and set(s) out “measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals, along with a “description of how the child’s progress toward meeting” those goals will be gauged. The goals may differ, but every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives. The IEP must also describe “special education and related services…that will be provided” so that the child may “advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals” and, when possible “be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum”. An IEP is not a form document. It is constructed only after careful consideration of the child’s present levels of achievement, disability, and potential for growth. The adequacy of a given IEP turns on the unique circumstances of the child for whom it was created.

MAC 2017 Research Study

Russell Silver Syndrome: A Case Study

MAC News Update – Summer 2017

News articles interest for the MAC community.


Special Education Losses Grow, Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop, 7/11/17

Less than half of the 50 states in America meet their obligations to disabled students under the IDEA. The annual U.S. DOE review found only 22 states met IDEA standards, whereas last year 24 states met those standards. Those states are Alabama, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. All other states fell into the “needs assistance” category.

DeVos Seeks More Sp. Ed Options, Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop, 7/18/17

Betsy DeVos, current head of the Department of Education, presented hew views on special education at the OSEP Leadership Conference, emphasizing the most recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. Special education must give more than minimal services and have the options that all families have, she said.  “Parents of children with disabilities know best.  They should be the ones to decide where and how their children are educated”.

One in Five Children Have LD, Christina Samuels, Education Week, 5/31/17

40% of all school-age children in special education are classified as LD. The National Assessment of Educational Progress noted that students with LD get worse scores than students with disabilities overall. For example, in 4th grade reading, 69% with any disability scored “below basic” compared to a score of 85% of students with LD. For students without disability, the score was 27%.

The Hidden Costs in Special Education School Vouchers, Dana Goldstein, NYT, 4/12/17

Parents who accept vouchers must inquire as to whether or not they are giving up their rights under IDEA. They appear to lose most of the rights guaranteed to them under IDEA. Public schools sometimes transfer children they cannot serve into voucher programs because of the drain on their budgets. Private school choice options that require waiver of IDEA rights are in Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wisconsin. In addition to loss of rights, parents may be responsible for any additional fees a private school charges that are not covered by the voucher. In addition, students with behavior problems can be suspended and not asked to return. Parents are largely unaware that their children are not protected by state or federal law in these programs.

The Nonlawyer Lady – A Life in Special Education

Buy Marilyn Arons’ book about her life and work in special education – NonLawyer Lady on Amazon

Amazon synopsis:

The Nonlawyer Lady presents the life and work of Marilyn Arons in special education. Mrs. Arons created the first Parent Information Center in the United States in 1977, developed the first parent training programs in special education, and pioneered the field of nonlawyer practice in due process hearings. Her work was controversial because she was not a lawyer, though considered a leading expert in special education law. She was also a political activist who organized parents and professionals to fight local and state corruption in the field of special education. She examined how states used federal money in the award of discretionary grants and their implementation. She worked without pay for three decades for thousands of families of disabled children who could not find representation to litigate or mediate disputes with local school districts. She never advertised, her fame growing by word of mouth. Her work began in New Jersey in 1976 and continued until 2007.