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Each week, LD OnLine gathers interesting news headlines about learning disabilities and ADHD issues. Please note that LD OnLine does not necessarily endorse these views or any others on these outside websites.

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Failing Our Students

The Post and Courier (SC)

The second in the newspaper's series focusing on reading difficulties in the Lowcountry. School board member Pam Kusmider believes the school district had not taught Ridge Smith, now 17, the way he'd needed to be taught. Some kids need to be taught in a different way. Students can't learn until they can read, and schools should be able to teach students how to read. The school district failed Ridge.

Talking with Rick Riordan

The Austin American-Statesman (TX)

The Last Olympian, the fifth and final book in the best-selling Percy Jackson series, goes on sale on Tuesday. It's quite the capper to a series that started as a bedtime story for Riordan's son. Then a second-grader, Riordan's son struggled with reading because of dyslexia and ADHD. But he loved the ancient stories and characters of Greek mythology, so Riordan started making some up.

School to Serve Kids with Learning Disabilities

The Arizona Republic (AZ)

A school cast from a different mold is scheduled to open in August in Scottsdale. Lexis Preparatory School is a new kindergarten through eighth-grade college-prep private school that aims to provide a customized, high-quality learning experience for children with ADHD, ADD, and other learning differences, said Dana Herzberg, head of the school.

(Opinion) Understanding a Specific Learning Disability in Writing

The Examiner (CO)

Children with a writing disability may show symptoms in a number of different areas. Parents and teachers should watch for several typical symptoms that may indicate a problem.

Writing Disabilities Common, Especially in Boys


Learning disorders related to writing are just as common as reading disabilities, and are especially likely to affect boys, a new study suggests. Written-language disorder, also known as dysgraphia, includes problems with handwriting, spelling and organizing thoughts on paper; it is diagnosed when a child's writing skills fall "substantially below" the norm for his or her age and IQ.

Lecturer to Addresses Own Battle with Dyslexia

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Throughout his childhood, Ronald Davis struggled with reading and writing. His condition — dyslexia — was undiagnosed. Teachers considered him a slow learner and he remained functionally illiterate until well into adulthood. Through sheer determination, Mr. Davis worked around his reading difficulties and eventually became an engineer and businessman.

Student with Knack for Designing Animated Characters Has Big Dreams

The Californian

Ted is a stuffed brown bear with potential star power, even if he wears a tin can over one leg and views life through an oversized red eye. Erica Lopez, a Hartnell College student, dreamed up Ted — short for "technically enhanced droid" — in a motel room while on a trip to Arizona. The bear was part of her recent exhibition, "It's Alive," at the college. Lopez, who is dyslexic, aims to work as a 3D animator. She'd like to create the characters, stories and settings that go into animated films.

Justices Weigh Special Education Tuition Reimbursements

Education Week

In "The School Law Blog," Mark Walsh reports on the special education case presented before the U.S. Supreme Court this week: "A special education case in the U.S. Supreme Court today showed that some justices are concerned about parents getting a fair shake in the system, while others worry that school districts and taxpayers must shoulder the burden for expensive private schools for some students."

PA State Legislator: Boost Special Education

Intelligencer Journal (PA)

State Rep. Mike Sturla has introduced legislation that would revamp Pennsylvania's special-education funding formula. The Lancaster city Democrat is co-sponsoring House Bill 704, which would replace the current funding formula with one based on the 2007 "costing-out" study commissioned by the state Legislature. That study found school districts were spending about $4.4 billion less than they need to each year for all students to meet Pennsylvania's academic expectations. The "adequacy gap" for special-education students was $380 million.

'Chronic Job Hopper' to Share Story of ADHD

Waseca County News (MN)

When David Wilkowske delivered newspapers for the Waseca Journal as a kid, he had no way of knowing it would be one of 66 jobs he would hold before he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder at age 46. He now believes his purpose is to help others with ADHD, whether or not it has been diagnosed, and the first step in that mission is the book he has written about his experiences, The Chronic Job Hopper, My Ongoing Battle with Attention Deficit Disorder 1969-2005.

Concerns Voiced over Classroom Noise Levels

Leader-Post (Canada)

Noisy classrooms in Canadian schools are preventing children from learning and taking a health toll on teachers, according to experts who want the government to adopt national sound standards for new schools and improvements made to existing ones. The coalition is recommending Canada follow a model already developed in the United States by the Acoustical Society of America that established specific criteria for maximum background noise and reverberation times for classrooms depending on their size.

High Court Looks at Who Pays for Special Education

The Washington Post

A lawyer for an Oregon high school student told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the public education system failed to address the boy's learning problems and then improperly denied his parents reimbursement after they enrolled him in a private school. A lawyer for the school system argued that the student's parents should have given public special education programs a chance before seeking reimbursement for private school tuition.

Students Praise Teacher of the Year

Greenwich Times (CT)

Kastriot Djema, a 17-year-old ARCH School student may have a penchant for wisecracking in the classroom, but says even he thinks twice about trying to match wits with teacher Tony Mullen. Mullen's sense of humor was one of many traits that students at Greenwich's alternative high school cited as an effective teaching tool Monday, after learning that the science and electives teacher would be named the "2009 National Teacher of the Year" by President Obama at the White House. In choosing Mullen, council officials cited his extensive public-service career, both as a New York City police officer and narcotic agent for 20 years and then as a special-needs teacher for the past seven.

Morris School Districts Eye Ways to Spend Stimulus

Daily Record (NJ)

Small group summer classes, Smart boards, teacher training, expanded preschool classes — these are just a few of the ideas local school districts have for spending $21 million in federal stimulus funds that Morris County schools are eligible to tap for at-risk and special education students.

Hillsborough Man Turns New Page on Life

Times & Transcript (Canada)

When Greg Drewett's level of literacy went from that of a Grade 1 student to high school in two years, it did more than just get the Hillsborough man's job back — it changed the way he dressed. Greg acknowledges that confronting his struggles with dyslexia and learning to become a better reader has done much to change him beyond just simple literacy. It's transformed how he interacts with other people and, primarily, how he feels about himself.

School to Serve Kids with Learning Disabilities

The Arizona Republic

A school cast from a different mold is scheduled to open in August in Scottsdale, AZ. Lexis Preparatory School is a new kindergarten through eighth-grade college-prep private school serving students in Maricopa County. The school will provide a customized, high-quality learning experience for children with ADHD, ADD and other learning differences, said Dana Herzberg, head of the school.

Interview: Henry Winkler Tells About Fight Against Dyslexia

The Oklahoman

Henry Franklin Winkler, 64, son of Jewish holocaust survivors, is best known for his role as the ultra-cool Fonzie in the "Happy Days" series of the 1970s and '80s. He went on to various roles in TV, theater and film and to serve as a director. Lesser known is his interest in education (master's degree of fine arts from Yale) and the challenge that shaped him most: dyslexia.

Doctors, Lawyers Team up to Help Special Needs Children

Plain Dealer (OH)

Doctors and lawyers are double-teaming the Cleveland schools' special-education office. MetroHealth Medical Center pediatricians who suspect that their low-income patients suffer from learning disabilities are referring families to Legal Aid lawyers with offices in the hospital and three neighborhood health centers. The lawyers then pressure the school district to provide what can be costly services.

Opinion: Paying for Special Ed

Baltimore Sun

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments over when school districts are obliged to pay for educating children with special needs in private settings. Parents say their children can't wait for the public schools to improve and nonpublic placements offer more experienced teachers and staff and a better learning environment. Public school officials counter that funding private school tuitions drains resources from special-ed students who remain in the system; they say parents should be required to give public schools a chance before asking local governments to pony up for expensive nonpublic placements.

Court Weighs Funding For Special Education

Washington Post

The Supreme Court will consider a question this week that has riled parents, cost local school boards here and across the country hundreds of millions of dollars, and vexed the justices themselves: When must public school officials pay for private schooling for children with special needs?

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