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PACER e-news: Resources and information for children with disabilities and their families

January 2009 E-News Extra!

Obama-Biden Education Agenda Posted on Web

The Obama administration has posted its education agenda on the White House Web site. For early childhood education, the agenda includes key emphasis on early care and education for infants; expanded funding for Early Head Start and Head Start; and affordable, high quality child care. The K – 12 agenda includes reforming No Child Left Behind, making math and science a national priority, and addressing the drop-out crisis. For students with disabilities, the administration plans to increase funding and effectively enforcing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; hold schools accountable for providing students with disabilities the services and supports they need to reach their potential; support early intervention services for infants and toddlers; and work to improve college opportunities for high school graduates with disabilities.

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Autism Task Force Invites Survey Participation

The Minnesota Senate Autism Task Force is inviting people affected by autism in Minnesota to participate in a survey. The purpose is to collect data regarding various issues for Minnesotans with autism. The task force will use the data to make recommendations to the state senate and governor. Participation in the survey is voluntary, and your decision about participation will have no impact on your relationship with the state. If you choose to provide contact information at the end of the survey, your responses will not be linked to your contact information. You may forward this survey to other families or professionals you know who may be interested in participating. Surveys will be collected until Feb. 15, 2009. Virginia Richardson, PACER’s parent training manager, is on the task force.

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New Guidance Announced to Help States and Districts Implement Public School Choice and Supplemental Educational Services

On Jan. 14, before leaving her position as U.S. Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings announced the release of non-regulatory guidance to assist states and local educators in implementing the public school choice and supplemental educational services (SES) provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. These provisions are intended to help increase academic achievement by giving parents of eligible students, in Title I schools identified for improvement, the options to transfer to another better public school in the district or to receive free tutoring.

You can view the public school choice guidance document at http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/schoolchoiceguid.doc and the SES guidance document at http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/suppsvcsguid.doc.

Proposed Economic Recovery Package Would Dramatically Increase IDEA Funding

U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) has introduced the $825 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Among its provisions, it seeks to increase funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Grants to States (Part B) by $13 billion over two years and $600 million over two years for IDEA's Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Program (Part C). Visit pacer.org/legislation/resources.asp to find out how to contact your congressional representatives and share your opinion on this bill. Click here for a summary of the bill. Click here for the bill text.

Schedule a Puppet Show for Your School or Organization

PACER’s COUNT ME INŽ disability awareness puppet presentation is an engaging and child-friendly way to educate children in grades K – 4 about disabilities and inclusion. Presented in the Twin Cities metro area by trained volunteers, the show lasts 45 to 60 minutes. For more information on how to bring the COUNT ME INŽ message to your school or organization, visit PACER.org/puppets, call Jen Leuma at 952-838-9000, or e-mail puppets@PACER.org.

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Come to a PACER Workshop

PACER offers more than 100 free workshops statewide to Minnesota parents and professionals each year. These sessions cover such topics as Individualized Education Programs, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, early childhood, transition, housing, assistive technology, and more. Find out what’s coming to your area!

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Join IBM's World Community Grid

The World Community Grid is an IBM effort to link computers worldwide and put idle computer time to use in aiding projects that benefit humanity. The grid is built upon an IBM infrastructure and includes IBM support. To become part of the grid, members install a small, free software program on their computers. When their computers are on but not being used, the program connects to the World Community Grid’s server, performs computations, and sends the results back to the server. Members’ donated resources help increase the pace of research. Visit worldcommunitygrid.org, click “find a team,” and select “PACER Center.” Join the team! It’s safe and easy.

Additional Features

Publications

“High Expectations” is a 10-page booklet for parents who have just learned that their child has a disability. Here is an excerpt: “Having high expectations when raising a child with a disability requires challenging yourself, your child, and others to do more than simply assume that a disability limits a child. Choosing the path of high expectations is certainly worthwhile, however, because it improves a child’s life.” It’s by PACER advocate Carolyn Anderson. Order php-a34 at PACER.org/publications/index.asp.

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Programs and Resources

PACER Center is a Minnesota nonprofit organization that provides services without a fee to families of children and young adults with any disability.

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PACER Center: Champions for Children with Disabilities
PACER Center, Inc. 8161 Normandale Boulevard Minneapolis, MN 55437-1044
952.838.9000 (voice) 952.838.0190 (TTY) 800.53.PACER (toll-free) 952.838.0199 (fax)
PACER enews is paid for with private funding.