Tag Archives: Learning and Attention Issues

Special Parents Confidential 54 Neurocore and the Education Secretary

Neurocore and the Education Secretary

The new Eduction Secretary of the United States has caused some controversy in the past months since her appointment over her views on special education, and her financial ties to a company called Neurocore. Specifically, she seems to have no interest in special education at all. Indeed, one of the first actions that took place after her appointment was the removal of all special education information from the Department of Education website. That information has since been restored, but it is still troubling. It should also be noted that this is the first time ever that an entire section of the United States Education Department’s website was deleted and only restored after public outcry. While it was claimed that there had been a simple mistake during the transition from one administration to another, many were quick to point out that this had never happened before in the entire history of the department during either administrative transitions, or otherwise.

Education and Special Education?

Further troubling is that Betsy DeVos’ only answer to any questions about the future of education in America, including special education, is to state her belief that, “parents have the right to choose what school they want their kids to attend”, and that, “states have the right to decide what that education will be”. Seemingly, without any federal government oversight. If that is truly the case, where does that leave special education, and the oversight of IDEA – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, that was implemented by Congress in 1991 and has been administered by the Education Department in since then?

What Is Neurocore?

During her confirmation hearings it was revealed that Mrs. DeVos and her family are the majority owners of Neurocore – a brain training program that has been hyped as a way for people with learning challenges to succeed. (They are also majority shareholders in several for-profit Charter School corporations, which we addressed in SPC Episode 43 with Kristen Totten of the Michigan ACLU.)

Our Guest: Ulrich Boser

Back in May of this year an article appeared in the Washington Post, written by our guest for this episode, Ulrich Boser. He investigated Neurocore, went to one of the Neurocore Centers to have an exam done, and checked out their findings with medical doctors and education experts. He talks about the concerns about Neurocore’s claims of success, and the problems caused by Mrs. DeVos’ financial ties to the company.

Links Mentioned in the Podcast:

Ulrich Boser’s Website and Blog

Ulrich Boser’s profile at the Center for American Progress

The article about Neurocore in the Washington Post 

Learn Better – The book about how we learn, mentioned in the podcast 

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Special Parents Confidential Episode 18 Living With Dyslexia

Special Parents Confidential Episode 18 Living With Dyslexia

Dyslexia is possibly the single most mis-understood of all disabilities. People who don’t have it think that those who do see misspelled words, or letters out of order, or even that they read backwards. But none of that is actually true. People with Dyslexia can recognize letters and words, and even sentences. The real problem is the comprehension component of reading is diminished, or in some cases not there at all.

New research has shown that there is a specific area in the brain that causes Dyslexia and the hope is that new treatments may come from that discovery. But those treatments are still a long way off and in the mean time many children and adults are continuing to struggle. Added to this is the fact that as of right now, March of 2015, only 24 states in America recognize Dyslexia as a learning disability and have specific treatment protocols for school districts to follow. That means that over half of the school age children in the United States who have Dyslexia are not getting the right kind of help, if they’re getting any help at all.

One of the aspects of children with special needs that many people don’t understand is that a child can have more than one specific disorder. A child may have ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism, or Downs Syndrome, and also have Dyslexia. But if the main disorder is more prevalent, the Dyslexia may not be recognized or even noticed without a more intensive diagnosis.

Dyslexia is the best known of these disorders, and causes problems with reading comprehension. There is also Dysgraphia, which causes problems with handwriting, and Dyscalculia, which causes problems in mathematics comprehension. Over the next series of podcasts, we’re going to take a closer look at Dyslexia and the related learning disorders to try to get a better understanding of the causes and the treatments.

To begin, I wanted to get a better idea of what it’s like to have Dyslexia and how it affects the ability to read and learn. Fortunately a friend of ours is willing to talk about her challenges. Elizabeth D’Aurora is a third grade elementary school teacher in West Michigan and she has Dyslexia. She talks about some of the problems and difficulties she had in school. As an educator she also discusses treatments and therapies for Dyslexics and their effectiveness. As you’ll learn in this podcast, there is no ‘cure’ for Dyslexia. No one “overcomes Dyslexia”; instead the person learns ways to cope and strategies for learning that can help them in school and beyond.

For more information on Dyslexia and related learning disorders visit Understood.org.

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