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Parents of Students with Intellectual Disabilities Fight for Inclusion

As the mental health debate heats up in schools, students with intellectual disabilities from their peers face continued stigma as they remain isolated.

For the past three decades, public schools have supposedly been doing their best to keep students with intellectual disabilities with their peers in a regular education setting. However, research shows that between 55 and 73 percent of those with intellectually disabilities still spend most or all of their day in segregated placements. By not developing those social skills children are being set up for an unsettled future.


"Given the legal mandate, it is surprising that such a large proportion of students are consistently placed in restrictive settings," said Matthew Brock, an assistant professor of special education at The Ohio State University who worked on the study. Brock's study will be published in the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

During the '90s and the first decade of the 21st century the education world has pushed for school districts to integrate students with intellectual disabilities into mainstream or regular education settings. By 2010, 18 percent of students with intellectual disabilities were spending at least 80 percent of their day in general education classes, but that has leveled off. In his report, Brock admitted that it is not realistic to have all students with disabilities be exclusively in general education classes, but he thinks "we need to find opportunities for all kids to spend some time with peers who don't have disabilities if we are going to follow the spirit and letter of the law."

Liza Long, a mental health advocate and author of "The Price of Silence: A Mom's Perspective on Mental Illness," in an op-ed compared fighting for the rights of children to being in a war. As tragic mass shootings in schools gained more prevalence in the American media, parents of neuro-typical students have been wary of their children being in the same classroom as students with both intellectual disabilities and behavioral disorders. But this practice only attaches an even greater stigma to students with intellectual disabilities.

According to Long, "What is the logical consequence of taking 100 students with behavioral and emotional symptoms between the ages of 12 to 21, 95% of whom are male, and putting them together in a program that will not allow them to earn a high school diploma or to learn to interact with neurotypical peers?

"In our society, too often the consequence is prison."

So what is the answer? Schools must fight against the disorder by equipping themselves with proper treatment plans and early prevention strategies which could change the trajectory of a student's future from a life of uncertainty and despair to becoming a productive member of society.

Laquan McDonald Reduced to 'Second Class Citizen,' Says Family

The light sentence given to the officer who killed McDonald, "suggests to us that there are no laws on the books for a Black man that a white man is bound to honor," said his great-uncle.

Hours of testimony at Jason Van Dyke's sentencing on Friday ended in shock for one family, and relief and happiness for the other.

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Senator Holds Airlines Accountable When Servicing Customers With Disabilities

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is working to stop wheelchairs from getting damaged during air travel.

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U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is leading the charge for better airline management of customers' motorized wheelchairs. Duckworth has been confined to a wheelchair since her helicopter was shot down in Iraq and she lost both of her legs.

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California Defies Trump's Order NOT to Pay Furloughed Workers Unemployment

Over 55 percent of civil service employees in the state are people of color.

Screenshot from ABC 7

President Donald Trump signed legislation on Wednesday that said all furloughed workers would receive back pay once the government reopens. However, the Trump administration has ordered states not to provide unemployment coverage to federal workers who have been required to work without pay during the partial government shutdown.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Thursday the U.S. Department of Labor sent states a letter with that mandate, according to NPR. The Department of Labor said the roughly 420,000 federal employees who are "essential" cannot file for unemployment as they are "generally ineligible."

It also reported 10,454 initial claims by federal workers for the week that ended Jan. 5, doubling the previous week's figure. Thousands more have applied since, state officials said.

Newsom said the decision by the Department of Labor's decision was "jaw-dropping."

"So, the good news is, we're going to do it, and shame on them," he said.

"From a moral perspective, there is no debate on this issue and we will blow back aggressively on the Department of Labor."

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) reports unemployment claims for one week during the shutdown are up 600 percent from the same time last year. The state has over 245,000 federal employees.

Over 55 percent of civil service employees in the state are people of color, and they are over 35 percent of the country's federal workforce.

Newsom encouraged people to continue to apply while the state figured out how to get the money. He estimated benefits that would last up to 26 weeks and provided a few hundred extra dollars a month. He said he knows it doesn't fix everything, but hopefully it helps.

His message to Trump: "Let us states do the job you can't seem to do yourself."

Some state officials said they had asked utilities and other companies to extend mercy to federal employees, and the federal Office of Personnel Management published sample letters that furloughed employees could send to creditors to ask for patience.

Texas has received more than 2,900 claims from federal workers since the shutdown began on Dec. 22, while Ohio is approaching 700. Kansas reported 445 filings, and Alabama was closing in on 500. Montana said it had logged almost 1,500.

Trump tweeted on Friday that he would be making a "major announcement" on Saturday about the government shutdown.

A senior administration official told CNN that Trump plans to offer Democrats another proposal to end the shutdown.

Reader Question: How are people you know that are furloughed workers surviving?

Black Student in Kansas Sues School District for Racial Discrimination

The dance team's choreographer told Camille Sturdivant that her skin was "too dark" to perform because she "clashed" with uniforms.

Camille Sturdivant has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Blue Valley School District for the abuse she was subjected to as a member of the high school dance team.

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Viral Video of Daycare Employee Mistreating a Black Child Spurs Investigation

A Black toddler was subjected to having her hair pulled and being pushed by the employee.

My Little Playhouse Learning Center

In a video that has now gone viral on Instagram and Facebook, a woman is shown pushing and pulling the hair of a toddler at a daycare center.

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Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Makes C-SPAN History With Speech on Government Shutdown

"This shutdown is about the erosion of American democracy and the subversion of our most basic governmental norms," said Ocasio-Cortez.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D-N.Y.) first speech on the floor of the House of Representatives broke a C-SPAN online viewing record for House speeches.

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