Blog: The Educated Reporter

Restraining Students Debated, Virginia Kills the Tebow Bill

There have been some developments on education stories I have recently written about, so it seems like a good time for updates:

Following news reports that students in Middletown, Conn. were isolated in so-called “scream rooms” during emotional outbursts, the state’s lawmakers are considering legislation that would require schools to track and report how often the controversial technique is used on special education students. A recently released federal report found that special education students accounted for 70 percent of the reported instances when educators used physical restraints, including isolation and seclusion.

As Maureen Fitzgerald, an advocate for individuals with disabilities told the Middletown Press, school staff use improper techniques because they are “put in situations where they’re not trained, they don’t have the support they need and things get out of control because they don’t know how to manage the kids, and they do whatever they can to keep everybody calm and safe … and that’s when people start getting hurt.”

Related federal legislation is also pending in both houses of Congress.

A Virginia bill that would have made it easier for homeschooled students to play sports for their neighborhood school teams died in the state’s Senate Education Committee. Nicknamed the “Tebow Bill” for the Denver Broncos quarterback who was homeschooled but still played varsity football at his local high school, the legislation had drawn strong criticism from public school advocates who argued homeschooled students forfeited their athletic privileges.

The long-stalled federal DREAM Act, a controversial proposal to help open the door to higher education for undocumented students, got a shout-out from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan during his visit to Texas. Duncan also sat down with Gov. Rick Perry and discussed the possibility of the Lone Star State applying for a waiver from the most onerous elements of No Child Left Behind. So far 49 states have applied, and 11 waivers have been granted.

As the Houston Chronicle reports, Perry’s vocal early support of the DREAM Act was blamed for eroding his support among the Republican base, although the governor later backed away from his statements as being “over-passionate.”



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