Most teachers report they spend a significant amount of time re-teaching information that students have forgotten over the summer break, according to a recent survey by the National Summer Learning Association. Also, a separate study suggests the problem may be particularly bad among disadvantaged youth. The survey by the NSLA, which hosts summer-learning programs, found that many teachers believe summer-learning programs would help curb the loss.
As part of the Los Angeles Unified School District's "integrated learning community" initiative, some students who have attended schools that have served only students with disabilities could be moved back to traditional schools, where they will receive services onsite. Some parents have expressed concerns about the plan. However, district officials have defended the decision. "Special education shouldn't be a place; it should be access to programs," said Sharyn Howell, executive director of L.A. Unified's special-education division.
The Franklin Special School District in Tennessee is launching inclusive special-education preschool classes this fall. Each elementary school in the district will host one inclusive preschool class, in which four students without disabilities will act as peer role models. "These peers have the unique opportunity to learn at an early age the value of differences in people and the value of acceptance and understanding," said special-populations supervisor Beth Herren.
New technologies, such as screen readers, real-time online interpreters and other tools, are making it easier for individuals with disabilities to find and maintain employment. U.S Department of Labor data show employment among individuals with disabilities is increasing faster than the general population. "High-tech advances are starting to help level the playing field, opening the door for so many people," said Therese Willkomm of the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire.
High school senior Rabiya Ghani, who has a cochlear implant, mentors other students with hearing impairments to help them meet their goals. "I like it the best because I see the other students, and they have disabilities, and I understand them very well. I help them out. It makes me feel great when I help people," she said.