Thursday, September 20, 2007

What is a 504 Plan?

Note: Visit my education blog, The Green Cup.

What is a 504 Plan? Do you need one? How is it different from an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)? These are important question if your child has a disability.

In the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Public Law No. 93-112), Section 504 states that: "no otherwise qualified individual with a disability...shall solely by reason of his/her disability be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination to any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance..." (emphasis added).

At the moment, every public school system in America receives some degree of federal funding. Because of this, they are all subject to this law. What that means for you is this: if your child has a disability, the school system must accommodate that disability in some way - under Section 504 if no other way is available. Probably that will mean the development of a formal plan for defining and providing those accommodations.

A 504 Plan is civil rights document. It protects your child's rights regarding access to education. Often the disability is a medical problem like asthma, childhood diabetes, or allergies.

Sometimes the problem is more complicated and the school system and parents must decide whether the child needs a 504 Plan under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or an IEP under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The difference between the two, in theory, is simple. Technically, a 504 Plan provides accommodations for the disability. Accommodations are environmental in nature. Changes are made to the learning environment:

  • a handicapped bathroom is installed.
  • an elevator is made available.
  • assistive technology (possibly something as simple as a cassette tape player) is provided.
  • perhaps the student is given extra time on some assignments or tests.

The curriculum itself does not change. An IEP, on the other hand, is for students whose disabilities require specially designed instruction. The curriculum itself must be modified in order for the student to receive an appropriate education.

Do you need a 504 Plan? A 504 Plan formalizes a set of accommodations that the school may be quite willing to make informally. For example, if your child has asthma and you bring the school some kind of a medical statement to document the fact, the school may be quiet willing to:
  • alter the child's schedule of physical activity.
  • hold medication in the office for the child and administer it when appropriate.
  • commit to take a particular set of steps in the event of an emergency.
Under these circumstances, does the 504 Plan serve a purpose? Maybe not. But having the formal document in place can be reassuring for everyone involved. And sometimes the exact accommodations to be used aren't as obvious as in the case above. In those cases, the formal plan helps people remember what to do.

There are some basic steps involved in obtaining a 504 Plan. The first is referral. A teacher, support staff, a parent, or a medical professional may refer the student for consideration, usually by calling the school and speaking to the principal or the chair of a school team that considers such matters.

The next step is a meeting to discuss the referral; perhaps a 504 Plan will emerge from that meeting, or perhaps more than one meeting will be required as the team involved gathers information. The last step is to review the effectiveness of the 504 Plan at some later date.

A 504 Plan can be an effective tool for safeguarding your child's right to an appropriate education.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Anglian Home Improvement

With winter fast approaching, now is the time to consider some of the more basic improvement you can make to your home to make the cold weather more tolerable.

If you live in the U.K., Anglian Home Improvement is among the best places to look for materials and resources to make those improvements.

Since 1969 Anglian has been respected by home owners in the United Kingdom for high quality home improvement. Visit one of their 200 or so showrooms, showsites or service centres and you'll find a range of windows and doors, conservatories, garage doors, kitchens and much more. Anglian offers window styles to suit every house and they install replacement windows. They also offer a variety of doors, including uPVC front doors, patio doors, French doors and sliding doors.

And the company offers a 10-Year guarantee on all its products.

If you don't want to travel to the showroom, Anglian will send you product brochures and DVDs on what they sell.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I was financially compensated for this post...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Screech Owl

A few katydids have returned. A very few.

Shortly after dusk I could hear the screech owl quite easily. It made more wonder whether it had been there all along - drowned out by the bugs.

The screech owl makes me remember being a boy on Vernon Drive in Augusta, Ga., and having a whippoorwill in the woods right behind my house. I used to go out the side door where my bedroom (a closed in carport) opened to the outside and sit in the grass at night and listen to it...

The Morning of September 18th (A Rough Sketch...)

5 am - Wake up from a dream. Don't remember the dream. went back to sleep.

6:05 am - Get up. Cheryl is up. I forgot to iron. Iron (3 minutes). Go down stairs and pack Cheryl's lunch. Put coffee in her thermos.

6:12 am - Mute the morning news on TV. Lay down on couch an dgo back to sleep...

6:25 am - Check clock. Roll over on couch.

6:38 am - Cheryl comes downstairs. I sit up. She gets her coat and gathers her stuff. We exchange a few words. I walk out on the porch. She has cream colored pants and the dog is on a chain on the front porch. I get the dog and hold it. She leaves.

6:42 am - I set kitchen timer to ding in 25 minutes and put it on the TV. Lay back down on couch.

7:08 am - Timer goes off. I get up and stat getting ready for work. I realize I didn't make the second pot of coffee. I usually make it BEFORE I lay back down. make coffee...

7:12 am - I go upstairs and get dressed. Iron my clothes. Coffee colored Izod long sleeved shirt and black pants with pen strips. I wear my brown boots today.

7:20 am - Pour coffee in my travel mug, fill two thermoses, get my lunch out and bag it (saffron rice with green lentils, grilled ribeye I bought cheap and cut into chunks).

7:30 am - Bring in Macy and put her in the room in the basement.

7:35 am - Gather my things. The email has been sluggish. Check it one last time. The email finally works. Turn off the today show. Walk out the door.

7:44 am - Start the Explorer and leave.

7:50 am - eat a sausage patty while I drive...

8:02 am - Listening to the news on National Public Radio. I pass four turkeys and two small deer as I drive up the south slope of Gary 14 Mountain.

8:06 am - Switch from radio to Van Morrison CD.

8:11 am - Two more turkeys cross the road in front of me in Skygusty, WV.

8:23 am - Arrive at school.

Perhaps sometime soon I'll do a school day...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The First Cold Night...

At 11:30 last night I walked the dog. It was a different experience. I stood with the leash in my hand on our back deck, watching my breath form mist in the air around me as the dog hunted the grass for a spot to mark and fantasized about what might be hiding in the grass just beyond its field of vision - rabbits and groundhogs and possums and other good things to chase. As I dragged Macy back up the steps to the house I checked the thermometer: 39F degrees.

It was about 6:30 this morning when Macy woke me to take her back out to the grass. It was 34F at that early hour. We evidently just escaped frost...

The change is remarkable. Friday night (and for weeks past now) a symphony of bugs performed nightly in my yard and in the surrounding brush and forest. Members of the family Tettigoniidae, commonly called "katydids," counted back and forth to each other it seemed to me - though they are more usually considered to be arguing about the actions of a girl named Katy (Katy did, Katy didn't, etc.). Over them, at a slightly higher pitch and with less vigor, the crickets struggle to be heard. Some other insect made a still higher pitched and more continuous hum. The frogs in my creek sang bass. The noise was not overwhelming, but it was considerable. In Spring and early Summer individual members of the symphony arrive in stages. While owls and other night bird struggle to be heard at all above the din in early August, in mid-Winter the night is almost completely silent here in my corner of Central Appalachia.

Tonight it is 50F outside and the crickets are still alive. Spring's first arrivals stay the longest.

This has been among the hottest summers on record. The Bluefield area has had more 90F-degree days than since records began being kept. How much heat will return remains to be seen. I enjoy the symphony as it arrives in the summer. But listening to the night quiet of Fall and Winter is also pleasant.

Over the next few days, perhaps we'll be able to hear the screech owl that visits us most years...