Some educators in New York City -- where sex education is required as part of the curriculum -- are working to address the topic with students who have intellectual disabilities. "We have specialized instruction around difficult issues," said Barbara McKeon, director of the Aaron Academy, which serves students with special needs. "Many students are physically mature, but not there emotionally. They are a more vulnerable part of the population, being bombarded by media and social networking, it can be difficult to sort out what is expected."
Schools are moving toward inclusive models for educating students with disabilities, said Thomas Hehir, former director the Education Department's Office of Special Education Programs, in a radio interview. He said schools should focus on positive teaching methods that look for what students are capable of doing. "There are lots of success stories of students with disabilities, of school districts that have engaged in effective, inclusive practices for kids," said Hehir, a professor at Harvard's Graduate School of Education.
Parents and advocates for children with disabilities differ on whether and how standardized testing should be used to assess the knowledge of children with special needs. Some parents are concerned about children with disabilities being excluded from state testing, but two mothers of students with special needs in South Carolina are petitioning to have their children exempted. Others in California are concerned that modified tests designed for students with disabilities are being given to too many children.
Parents of students with disabilities are worried that cuts to special-education programs in Los Angeles schools will turn back the clock on progress toward equal education for their children. A consolidation plan that would lead to larger class sizes and the funneling of more students out of mainstream programs were among the concerns of parents who attended a hearing Thursday at the school district's headquarters.
This New York Times blog post looks at the controversy generated over a decision to award the lead role in an upcoming Broadway production about Helen Keller to Abigail Breslin, a well-known actress who does not share Keller's vision and hearing disabilities. The producer of the show said he wanted a star for the show to drive up ticket sales and may consider an understudy with disabilities.