Examining Our Nation’s Moral Compass In Relation to Our Children


I have been sitting with a lot of thoughts for a while now, about the cultural changes that are occuring in our country and the rise in discrimination, segregation, hate and violence against one another.  As someone who has always been offended by injustices I have stood up to support causes I believe in but in turn have sat down more often.  I don’t feel I have done enough to help make changes in the lives of those on the margins; those who are quote, “different.”  I know I can do more and I am sure I’ve copped out of opportunities to help others for a multitude of reasons; fear of taking risks, laziness, overwhelm.  But I feel we as a collective have reached a point of absolute identity crisis.  I don’t think we know who we are and I’m not sure we are willing enough to admit to being other than what we think we are.  

I believe we are falling and falling hard.  And as a result, I believe we have lost our moral compass in this country.  And it leaves me with many questions.   Is it too late to recapture a sense of union?  I might have thought a global health crisis would do it but I was way wrong. Are we becoming a country with elected leaders who decide basic human rights for others like what has happened and is happening under non-democratic nations?  Are people so filled with hate, confusion and or ignorance that they are willing to allow state governments to dictate how another person should live their lives or die because protecting them properly would lose them favor with lobbyists?  #supporting the owning of guns, any guns, is more important than saving the lives of children who will continue to be lost due to inaction on basic gun safety initiatives that most of the country including gun owners favor?  Is anyone who is anti-gun laws really internalizing that children’s lives are ENDING.  It’s too late to save them with thoughts and prayers!!

The same people who want all the children to be born only to then forget about them once that event has been completed because they are black, brown, disabled, queer or other.  Is being murdered in a classroom at 6 years old the new “natural” cause of death? It’s certainly the new number one cause of death for kids under 18.  What must it take to have the politicians to be affected enough to do something?  Is it that it hasn’t been personal enough for supporters of child flesh disintegrators like AR weapons of war? Have we become so numb to death and murder?  We lost 3000 people on 9/11 and there are memorials and “never forget” signs.  Those lives seemed to matter and for good reason.   Yet (with no disrespect to those 3,000 because I believe they should be remembered)  1,000,000 people died from Covid and no one speaks of them.  I see no bumper stickers in their memory.

How are we not mortified over the enactment of book banning in states in order to control and decide for children what they can read?  Has hypocrisy lost its meaning or consequence?  For example, on one hand saying that it’s a parents right to decide for their children what is best for them and then with their actions, state governments decide what a child can’t read or what type of child can’t get appropriate healthcare which then raises the potential of putting them in life-threatening danger.  

Do we refuse to heed the lessons of history and recognize what the incremental stripping of rights by governments can lead to? Are we so lax that we can allow the gradual deterioration of human rights, the proliferation of isolation and discrimination against certain groups such that, if you believe in facts, history suggests and forshadows the eventual suffering, possible torture and or genocide of these “unfavored” humans?  #NaziGermany, #Mussolini, #North Korea and on and on?  Do we really believe that a governor has the right to dictate over those that voted him into power?  Are people really ok with that?  Is this the United States of America?  A place patriots love to espouse was founded on the idea of freedom yet actually live according to a mission statement buoyed by lie upon lie, clan against clan, bullying by its leaders and hatred for those that are different.  

I wonder, based on history and how people have been convinced to follow an ideology that wasn’t not germane to their nature,  if it is quite likely for many of those people whose beliefs and behaviors align with the previously mentioned undemocratic traits,  that they wouldn’t align if those in power weren’t telling them to do so.   This then suggests manipulation by fear; the oldest con in the world.  Scare tactics.  It’s worked forever and it is the common denominator to all of this.  If A happens then B will surely happen.  And if you don’t believe it,  your way of life and your life itself are in jeopardy.  Hate is built from ignorance.  I believe we are all born basically good.  But ours is a society of tearing down the least of us.  It’s a strong current that can understandably sweep up those who aren’t paying attention to its power.  I believe we are stronger together and that our natural genetic code, if you will, says to be there for one another because life is hard.  

How common is it to see someone fall and a stranger be right there to pick them up?  Happens all the time! Did that stranger ask that person if they were gay or straight? Pro-life or Pro-choice? For gun-control or an NRA member? A democrat or a republican? MAGA or not? What religion they espoused or no religion at all?  No.  They just reached out a hand because that’s what a community of people do.  Without marching orders and being told what to fear we generally smile, wave, open doors and allow someone to go ahead of us in our everyday lives.  And not even a thought of pulling a gun on them.

So why are we so filled with hate?  Why do we think we can decide for others how to live their lives?  Why do we continue to allow politicians to remain in power without holding them to account when they begin to show dictatorial tendencies and commit crimes for which you and I would go to prison? 

The vast assault on those that are different is historic in this world and in this country.  Quote “different” people continue to be threatened by those that see them as different or other.   For this to happen it presumes a supposed norm or acceptable type.  But who decides that? And why does it have to be?  I mean there are many breeds of dogs and cats yet a true hatred for a breed seems unlikely; perhaps a preference but not an actual discriminatory dismissiveness based upon it.  Even when it comes to the color of the dog.  If you had a golden labrador and a black labrador who were both thirsty would you NOT  give water to one or the other based on their color?  Probably not because you’re more than likely just seeing two dogs.  

We all bring our personal experiences to how we look at one another and I’m not saying we need to love everyone we meet but base that dislike upon how they treat others and not by the surface of their appearance, be it how they look, skin color, clothes they wear, who they choose to identify as, what they choose or don’t choose as their religion or who they choose to love.  

This moral deterioration as I’m calling it is impacting our children negatively and will only get worse in my opinion if the trends away from human rights continue to be the rule.   Educationally. Socially. Societally. Morally.   There are things happening, new laws passed and the absence of laws passed that are alarming to me.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that are happening that indicate how far the broken moral compass of many is dictating the trajectory of the moral compass of the collective whether you support them or not.  I want to focus mostly on the impact on children but it is obviously larger than that so I may paint outside the lines a bit in that regard. 

The Issues that are out front and center that are changing the direction of America are such things as: Disability Rights.  Book banning.  The right of children to learn real history; and this includes slavery and the Holocaust and Roberto Clemente and Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement and the realities of the Civil War and on.  Anti-gay laws.  Anti LGBTQ+ bills and laws.  Medical freedom of choice being stripped from targeted groups.  And finally the lack of gun laws that can protect and save the lives of school children who live in fear that they may die on any given day which is leading to mental illness beyond the scope of anything we’ve seen; they don’t want to go to school because they are no longer seeing the point of the risk.  Can you blame them? 

Disability rights have been in place for decades now.  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability in any program or activity operated by recipients of federal funds. Section 504 is enforced by the U.S Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR). 

The Section 504 regulation requires a school district to provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to each qualified person with a disability who is in the school district’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the person’s disability.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments of 2008 (ADA) broadened the definition of disability in the ADA as well as in Section 504.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 IDEA is the federal law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children. 

Under IDEA, there is the “Least Restrictive Environment” requirement.

Under federal and state law, children with disabilities must be educated in the “Least Restrictive Environment” (LRE). The Least Restrictive Environment requirement means that to the maximum extent appropriate for each child, children with disabilities must be educated with children who do not have disabilities, and children with disabilities must be educated in regular education classrooms unless the nature or severity of the disability prevents them from receiving an appropriate education in that setting, even with the use of supplementary aids and services. The requirement also includes a strong preference, though not an absolute mandate, for students with disabilities to be able to attend the schools they would have attended if they were not disabled.

The suggestion of these laws is that the first placement for a child entering school should be in an inclusive classroom.  After which there are annual IEPs and mandated committee meetings with parents to determine placement for the next year.  This is how it is written to work.  But it isn’t how it works.  There still exists a great degree of discrimination and segregation with the New York City school system being one of the worst offenders.   Tune in next week when I will be interviewing Olivier Bernier, a father of a son with Downs Syndrome, as we speak about his documentary on inclusion which focuses on his son, Emilio’s class placement and his parents’ fight for his inclusion.  The film is entitled FORGET ME NOT, and I invite you to watch it prior to listening to the interview.  If you have any questions you’d like me to ask him, send them to my email, specialedrising.com by Thursday May 25, 2023.  

I want to read to you parts of an article from GLAAD.ORG about the new Gov. DeSantis’ Anti-LGBTQ+  laws in Florida and then from HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN and an article entitled: Gov. DeSantis Signs Slate of Extreme Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills, Enacting a Record-Shattering Number of Discriminatory Measures Into Law

On one day DeSantis signed into law a package of anti-LGBTQ bills that make the residents of the state less free and more dangerous for everyone, especially LGBTQ people, youth, and families. The legislative session was historically discriminatory. A statement from DeSantis’s office describes the “Let Kids Be Kids” bill package with incorrect and unsubstantiated anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. Among the many false and baseless allegations in the signing statement, DeSantis cited: “Permanent mutilating surgical procedures” (in fact, surgery is not performed on minors), “gender identity politics” (in fact, studies that include the existence of and contributions of LGBTQ people in history is not “politics”); and “protect[ing] students from having to declare their pronouns” (in fact, all children and adults use pronouns). The name of the “Let Kids Be Kids” bill package is also disingenuous: The package of bills deprives transgender and nonbinary youth of affirming and potentially lifesaving healthcare, denies them access to public and school facilities, denies them the chance to play on sports teams with their classmates, and restricts the ability of children to learn about the breath of American history, which includes LGBTQ people. 

  • Signed into law HB 1521 that would make it difficult or impossible for transgender Floridians to access appropriate restrooms, domestic violence shelters, correctional institutions, or other spaces that match their gender. 
  • Signed into law SB 254 that bans gender-affirming medical care such as puberty blockers or hormone therapy for transgender youth, and also enacts obstacles for adults to access treatment. 
  • Signed into law HB 1069 that bans trans students from being able to use their correct pronouns and allows anyone in a school district to flag classroom or library material that contains sexual content for potentially permanent removal.  
  • Signed into law HB 1438 that bans minors from drag performances with hefty penalties for establishments that might violate its provisions. 
  • Signed into law HB 225 that gives the state government control over the Florida High School Athletic Association “to ensure women’s sports are protected,” which is right-wing code for anti-trans sports bans. 

DeSantis took down a Department of Education website that supplied educators, parents, and students with anti-bullying resources. The page featured links to federal government anti-bullying initiatives (stopbullying.gov), information on creating safe spaces for LGBTQ young people to receive support from school staff, and additional information from national leaders in combating mental health crises and suicidality among LGBTQ students.

He vetoed all funding for LGBTQ programs from the $101 billion state budget, including $150,000 for mental health programming to support survivors of the Pulse Massacre and $750,000 to house homeless LGBTQ children, as well as funds for Orlando’s LGBTQ Community Center.

He signed an anti-discrimination order for state employees that excludes protections for LGBTQ people.  The order pledges that his administration will prohibit discrimination in employment based on “age, sex, race, color, religion, national origin, marital status or disability” for government employees and contractors. The order does not include protections based on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”

From the INDEPENDENT.CO.UK: Republican lawmakers in Florida have sparked outrage after passing a bill that LGBTQ advocates say will strip trans children from their parents’ custody. 

SB254 — which one former lawmaker has called “fascist” legislation — would allow the state to rip children from their parents when they are “at risk” or “subjected” to gender-affirming health care. The bill is written so that even a child of Floridian parents living out of state could trigger the law.

She said bills like Florida’s make it “impossible for transgender people to go about their daily lives like everyone else,” and that it invites abuse and hostility from the public.

“This is state sanctioned discrimination against Florida’s vibrant trans community,” she said.

SB1438 empowers the state to take punitive measures against businesses that host LGBTQ friendly shows or drag performances. It also gives the state the power to prohibit minors from attending events it deems “inappropriate.” Minors will be barred from events even if their parents consent, a policy that flies in the face of Governor Ron DeSantis’ educational agenda that favors parental consent to an extreme degree. 

Many families in Texas already keep folders of their medical records and doctor recommendations with them out of concern of being reported to authorities for supporting their trans kids.  Families in Texas aren’t alone — with dozens of states attacking trans youth, including some which have proposed criminalizing medical care, it is an unfortunately common practice.   No one should have to pick up their family and move just to support their kid and access medical care. And while families in Texas are considering this, they are all asking where is safe for them as 39 states have introduced legislation attacking trans youth this year. .

As of April of 2023 these states have banned books from schools and libraries:  13 districts in Florida banning books, followed by 12 districts in Missouri, 7 districts in Texas, and 5 districts in both South Carolina and Michigan.  The majority of these books have to do with black history and gay and lgbtq+ themes. 


Books are being removed from Florida classrooms and libraries because they are “pornographic, violent or inappropriate.”


Books that have been banned in Florida include:

  • Biographies of Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente that Duval County admitted to removing from shelves for nearly a year, along with 177 other books from a collection of diverse books.
  • And Tango Makes Three, a picture book about two male penguins raising a chick.
  • Stella Brings the Family, a picture book about a girl with two dads.
  • When Wilma Rudolph Played Basketball, pulled from open shelves temporarily after one person complained about it.
  • Forever, by Judy Blume
  • Booker Prize winner The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  • Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye
  • All Boys Aren’t Blue, by George M. Johnson
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  • Dozens of books that include LGBTQ+ themes, protagonists of color, or that touch on race or racism.

There are more claims vs reality to cite but I’ll let you explore that further on your own.  I’ll include the articles on the resource page of my website for you to read.

Finally, let’s talk about the number one killer of children, guns.  Here’s some background and facts to know. 

Gun control is an issue throughout the world, with each country having the sovereign authority to regulate firearms within its borders. The vast majority of industrialized countries have strict gun-control regulations. For example, Japan places restrictions on the possession and use of all firearms except in limited instances (e.g., hunting, athletic events, and research). Canada permits the possession and use of firearms for competitions and target practice, but it forbids the possession of handguns unless an individual can show that a handgun is needed for self-defense. The United Kingdom has banned handguns altogether and limits the possession of firearms to activities such as hunting, target shooting, pest control, and slaughtering. Meanwhile, Germany permits the ownership of certain firearms so long as an individual meets the requirements for a firearms ownership license, which include that the applicant be age 18 or older and have expert knowledge in the handling of firearms and have the necessity to possess such firearms.

The following is from Thetrace.org; a media outlet who’s sole intent is to cover gun violence in America. 

Since 1899 there have been at least 465 million guns produced or imported for the US market.  We’ve gone from around 50 million guns in 1950 to over 450 million guns in 2020.

When we charted gun manufacturing and imports alongside annual gun deaths going back to 1968, we found that when gunmakers ramped up production, gun deaths rose. 

 a Swiss-based research project – estimated that there were 390 million guns in circulation in the US in 2018.

Gun ownership rates vary significantly across countries, reflecting a diverse range of cultural, legal, and historical factors. The United States has the highest gun ownership rate with 120.5 firearms per 100,000 people. Yemen follows behind with 52.8 firearms per 100,000 people.  There are more guns than people in the U.S., and There are also more than twice as many guns per person in the U.S. than the country with the second most.  

Not dying from gun violence is a human right with Gun regulation as the solution to the murders and killings:  Why can we not follow these basic human rights proposals that other countries do and show lower death rates due to guns?  A majority of Americans are in favor of gun control. 

57% of Americans surveyed said they wanted stricter gun laws – although this fell last year – according to polling by Gallup.

The UN has set up international guidelines that states can put in place to incorporate into national laws on firearms control.   

These international standards recommend prohibiting any possession of firearms without a license; that states should register all firearms; and that unlicensed possession should be treated as a criminal offense.

More facts from BBC.com: There have been more than 200 mass shootings across the US so far this year (2023), according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are injured or killed. Their figures include shootings that happen in homes and in public places.

 We have the highest % of gun related killings of any country by far; 80.5% compared with Canada at 40, Australia at 11 and England/Wales at 4%.  Is this not screaming in our faces how basic gun regulations can satisfy the gun lover and keep families intact and not mourning the death of their child whose lunch they had just packed 4 hours earlier?  The numbers and the realities of this crisis or disease is overwhelming and frankly I had to stop researching because it seems so insane and unnecessary and was making me physically ill.

I was a classroom teacher for 30 years. I remember when you could go to work in a school and only be thinking about how to reach your students.  How to teach them to read better and be better people to one another.  To teach them how to handle the ups and downs of being a kid.  I didn’t consider myself a front line worker who was putting his life on the line to teach children how to add.  The thought didn’t cross my mind.  But then the change came and there I was.  Huddled in a corner like a mother bird protecting her eggs during a lockdown drill which could have been real.  We weren’t permitted to know in order to follow the training precisely.  I was now a teacher who was preparing myself to stand in front of an assault rifle to save the children in the corner.  What a joke? Once my body was eviscerated the children would be next.  The gun supporters want teachers to carry guns.  No teacher wants to carry a gun!! Hear this! We want less guns!  The gun supporters want more guns and less doors!!  That’s how pathetically far they will take their argument  just to keep guns available.  It’s sick, selfish, ill-considered thinking that shows the lack of respect for the life of children who, again, they want to be born but won’t protect afterwards, and for teachers who are underpaid and overworked as it is.  Now you want them trained to shoot a weapon when we’ve already seen how security guards with guns are no match for the power of an AR 15, which like its military version, is designed to kill people quickly and in large numbers. The National Rifle Association calls it “America’s Rifle.” Just  Offensive

I could recite a list of all the mass shootings in schools, malls, movie theaters and on but you know them.  How long will we be allow this to go on?  This is a moral crisis

If you are impacted by this episode and want to make a difference get involved.  Volunteer to get out the vote.  Canvas for politicians who will work to stop the madness.  Write your legislators and vote.  Contact organizations like Sandy Hook Promise and volunteer or make a donation to push to change gun laws.  Protest and speak out.  Parents regarding school services and appropriate placement for your child, don’t accept what doesn’t feel right for them.  Question the system and if it takes due process to change things in favor or your child go for it.  I know it’s an extra burden. I know it can be a pain.  I know it takes a long time and can be costly. Do what you can.  Do what’s comfortable but know how important your voice is and if you can, talk to friends to encourage them to act.  

Peace and Keep Rising!


Transition Questions and Answers with Gretchen Levine


Interview Questions for Grethchen Levine

Who are the team members that play a significant role in the transition process? 

These team members typically play a role in transition planning

Transition Coordinator

Special Ed Teacher/Case Manager

School Psychologist


IEP Coordinator

The IEP to be the tool that guides a child towards a relevant transition out of Secondary school; a scaffold that builds on itself strengthening and informing the goal which is a smooth and appropriate transition. I believe this is how it works in Maryland.  Do you feel this is being done effectively? How might it differ in other states? How early in the process should we be preparing for transition?

Transition services that a student receives can vary even within the state – my home state of Maryland has areas like Howard and Montgomery county where transition services and options are excellent and other areas of the state, particularly the more rural areas where the services aren’t as comprehensive.  

Programs are people is a saying that comes to mind. If School Administrators are onboard with best practices in transition and they are able to have seasoned staff students and their have a better chance of getting the services that are outlined in IDEA. Preparing students to live, work,play and thrive in their communities, alongside their family and friends is the ultimate goal of Special Education.  

In my recent experience – which has also been impacted by Covid, I have seen that not all states provide comprehensive transitional planning for their high school age students. In NC for example there is a cap on what the state will spend per student for Special Ed services, this has been challenged of course but while the legal battles roll out the impact is two fold, students go without services and community capacity and service development is muted because there is no public funding . 

Ideally the high school program will offer a range of opportunities for students to participate in transitional activities  instruction, related services, community experiences, employment, adult living skills, daily living skills, and evaluations of skills and abilties related to transitioning from high school.  The transition coordinator will also actively assist students and families to engage adult services so that when the student leaves high school there are programs and benefits actually in place. 

When should parents begin educating themselves on transition and what kind of questions should they be asking?

I think it is important to start at age 14 and have found that the following areas are critical to consider – list – 


Vision for the Future – where does the student and their family see themselves after high school 

Career Interest Information – can use a variety of tools and student interviews to discuss career pathways of interest with student

Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA)

Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DORS,RSA,DSR)

Career One Stop

DLLR Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (Maryland)

Social Security Administration (SSA/SSI)


College –

Level of Support Required ( AT lab, learning center etc)

Application Process

ACT required ?


Recommendation Letter


Records Sent

Meeting with Disabilities Support Services (DSS)

Accommodations Plan

Development of Schedule

Metro & Ride On ID Card

Travel Training 

Eligibility for Paratransit

Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) ID Card

Driver Education – Driver’s License


Application for housing porgrams and subsidies

Social & Recreational Contacts and Plans

Special Interest groups

Organized sports

Special Olympics 

Friends& family

Summer Plans 

Sleep away camps and/or travel 

Summer Youth Employment programs 

Summer College Preparatory program


Three References (Name, Address, Phone, Relationship)

How do we help parents become educated on their rights in this process? 

By offering both group and one on one education to families about the transition process, often provided through programs like The Arc, Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center, Autism Society, 

Important to help families  and students visit potential providers before graduating or exiting the school – some transition coordinators set up field trips for their students and also arrange parental visits and presentation with providers. 

In New York there is https://opwdd.ny.gov/community-involvement/school-transition-students-developmental-disabilities

In Virginia the PEATC has a wealth of resources and webinars for free

Nationally there are many groups and organizations around transition – https://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/

Think College is a wonderful resource of nationwide post secondary program and research

I speak to many parents who are struggling with the process.  They feel uninformed or they feel stifled by the delays in response to their requests for guidance.  It can be overwhelming.  Why do you believe this is happening?

Unfortunately parents don’t get connected to the range of adult community programs and providers that can help them understand resources that are available to their student. They might be dealing with young teachers or novice staff that don’t have that breadth of knowledge or any experience with these adult services in their community.  There are also many misconceptions about adult services and benefits such as through the Social Seccurity Administration 

Transition planning is time consuming. Parents may be turned off by the labels of programs that provide services. The agencies involved are underfunded and under staffed which makes if more onerous to get help.  

In addition to being time consuming and labor intensive transition planning also requires parents to accept the long term impact of their student’s disability and how they will support them long term as an adult. 

What is the process that a school support system needs to implement that will help to scaffold a child’s academic path from childhood through HS graduation? 

Providing individualized and school wide educational and informational sessions and encouraging parents to begin these no later than age 14 or 9th grade, 8th grade isn’t really too early to begin learning about the following areas – my list 

There is a lot of planning involved in successful transition including graduation timing and credit requirements

Diploma or certificate pathway discussion 

Opportunities to develop self advocacy and independence where students have opportunities to make choices, express their preferences, and become comfortable discssuing their strengths and needs relative to their disability

Job internships and opportunities through out high school that move from school to community based and are progressively more challenging for the student

Timely assessment and evaluation of students’ academic abilities, and independent living skills in addition to career interest and aptitude assessment 

What are some things to look at in the student’s records that help to guide post-secondary choices and services? 

I like to understand how a student learns and what types of supports they need and see this reflected in a neuropsychological assessment 

Adaptive behavior scales, behavior rating scales  and independent living assessment are helpful

Understanding the student’s learning profile also informs and supports the level of support, accommodations and modifications that translate to post secondary residential and daily living supports, educational programs and employment services – give example of Naveen 

Is there a point early on in a student’s education that can be a significant indicator as to the direction a student is headed in terms of aging out of HS? 

Between 9th and 10th grade – this is very indvidualized but at the very latest this is the time to decide on the student progression through hs how they will meet requirements and if they need a 4, 5 or 6 year plan to accomplish their grad requirements and IEP goals

Let’s speak about the student’s involvement in their own life path. Can you explain self-direction or self-determination? 

I like the PACER Center definition of self determination as Self determination is believing you can control your own destiny. Self-determination is a combination of attitudes and abilities that lead people to set goals for themselves, and to take the initiative to reach these goals.

Parent ?: What type of service (category or specific) is most lacking for aged-out individuals?

Employment opportunities and supports 

Funding for independent and residential supports 

Who are you collaborating with in terms of post-secondary providers for education and employment?

Typically you are working with non profit agencies that receive state and or federal funding to provide services to eligible individuals. 


OSTAR in New York

Vista Life Innovations

Chapel Haven 

NYS has OPWDD (THE OFFICE OF PEOPLE WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES). What is comparable in Maryland and does each state have their own version of it?  

Developmental Disabilities Administraiton 

Do you think there are socio-economic reasons for why some kids get underserved in the system?  Can you elaborate?

Students who are underserved face a myriad of challenges in accessing adult services. On a practical level accessing adult services is time consuming and students need varying levels of caregiver assistance and support to obtain services that MIGHT be available to them. Schools that facilitate these connections for families 

Transportation can be a huge barrier for students.

What kind of help is out there for low income families? 

Depending on the state you live in there are a variety of programs that can assist families – but often parents awareness of these programs is dependent on the school linkages and liaison 

TANF Temporary Assistance for Needy Families 

SNAP Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program

SSI Supplemental Security Income – based on disability and resources 


Reduced Fare Metro

Subsidized Housing 

Energy Assistance 

What are some good preparation experiences for the students during their high school years?

Reference Shelley’s project 

developing interests and strengths 

learning to self advocate

opportunities for volunteering, working and for managing their daily routines as independently as they can. 

help to set up a bank account, obtain an id, practice using public transportation and or uber. 

mock interviews 

choice making opportunities 

sleep away camps

pre College programs 

Must an IEP include measurable postsecondary goals in each of the areas of training, education, employment, and independent living skills? Are there any circumstances in which goals for training and education can be combined?

All areas should be addressed in the IEP – this is a helpful checklist for ensuring if the IEP meets regulation – https://transitionta.org/wp-content/uploads/docs/Indicator13_Filled-Example.pdf

Are there activities at the Federal level to support secondary transition services

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed into law on July 22, 2014. WIOA is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. Congress passed the Act with a wide bipartisan majority; it is the first legislative reform of the public workforce system since 1998



Peace and Keep Rising!


Teachers On Social Media


As the new school year approaches, the classroom is a thing of the past for me and I am, in addition to my freelancing, now more involved in the world of blogging and podcasting. As a result, I have joined the social media sector, somewhat reluctantly, but aware of the positive impact it can have on getting messages out, connecting with other folks attempting to do good for others and hopefully sharing great, constructive ideas.

But as I do see the up side to these app sites, I equally see the down side and the curious, creative and unexpected ways that others use these platforms. Ultimately, this is the way of the world now and I’m not fighting it and people can do what they want with it as long as it’s not hurtful, abusive or violent.

That said, I have come across many teachers, mostly younger and newer, who have an ax to grind and who are using Instagram and Tik Tok to express their complaints, without a filter, or share how overworked, frustrated and tired they feel. I even saw one where a teacher used the f-bomb, “jokingly” to get her point across to her imaginary students in her scenerio.

To be fair, I have also seen teachers celebrating and sharing ideas, materials and strategies which I think is wonderful. So I’m not here to say don’t do it. What I want to express to you, as a veteran Special Ed teacher of 30 years, is to be careful. What you think is funny is out there for your students and their parents to find and it may send an unintentional message. Not everyone sees things as you do. That may be obvious to say but it is apparently often ill-considered .

Honestly, I’m open-minded and appreciate bringing creativity and inventiveness into the classroom. Anything to make school more appealing and considerate of the students is worthwhile in my opinion. But you have to remember that this is a job where parents are putting their trust in you to nurture their children. If they see you complaining, admitting to being ignorant or cursing, trust can be eroded quickly and there will be those who do not find the humor in it and they may confront administration. This can result in marks against you that may cause administration to keep an eye on you, damage the employer/employee trust, lead to disciplinary action, suspension and it could cost you your job. Don’t think this is an exaggeration.

As teachers we all have complaints and understand that teaching is an incredibly difficult job. We are frontline workers. We LITERALLY put our lives on the line each time we enter educational settings. So what I’m saying is that this job is dangerous enough without pouring your reality into a video to get a “like” that might backfire and cost you. We, as professionals, have an enormous responsibility to earn and keep the parents’ trust. Complain to your friends, take a boxing class, run or JOURNAL!

But if you must, make videos that put out messages sharing positive and constructive experiences, lessons and ideas. Be careful not to take lightly your position as a professional being looked up to and trusted. Pause for a bit before you risk it all in order to display your negative feelings or the challenging realities of your daily encounters to the world including, yes, your students and their parents.

As a member of your community we are all family and as one of you I am writing this because I’m looking out for your best interest so you can be an exceptional role model for a long time to come. Good luck this new year!

Peace and Keep Rising!