News

June 25th via POLITICO

Workforce Bill Clears Senate

The Senate passed a jobs bill Wednesday that aims to streamline federal workforce programs and overhaul the job training system for young people with disabilities.

The bill sailed through, 95-3, with little opposition following months of pre-conferencing between the House and Senate and a flurry of last-minute wrangling.

“We had a lot of rabbits jump out of the hole the last couple weeks,” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said, referring to the many requests for changes that he and co-author Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) fielded while working out a unanimous consent agreement so the bill could move this summer.

“Johnny and I have been working on this our whole lives,” Murray joked. The last year in particular, Murray said, has been spent “hammering through challenges.”

House Republicans and Senate Democrats have very different agendas for workforce policy. A bill that passed the House last year focused primarily on getting rid of workforce programs, many of which were deemed redundant in a 2011 report from the Government Accountability Office.

The Senate’s version of the bill, which passed out of committee in 2013, maintained most of those programs and focused on other priorities, like helping dislocated youth and updating the system for people with disabilities.

Workforce law is unwieldy to reauthorize: It’s dense and complicated and touches a range of competing interest groups, including businesses, unions, skills-focused nonprofits, disabilities advocates and higher education.

The long delay between the original passage of the Workforce Investment Act in 1998 and the recent reauthorization efforts added to the challenge, said Allison Dembeck, director of congressional and public affairs for education at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“The longer it waited, the more we were realizing how much it had to change. That really made the process difficult,” Dembeck said. “The more changes that you need, the harder it is for consensus.”

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act works to solve a familiar problem: unemployment. It governs a web of federal programs meant to train people and help them find jobs. Its reach is vast: WIOA authorizes employment centers that help with resume writing, job searches, English as a second language instruction and on-the-job training. It has specific programs targeting particularly vulnerable groups, such as laid-off workers and disabled veterans.

WIOA also authorizes GEAR UP grants to improve college access for disadvantaged youth. And the bill governs a system that trains disabled youth for the job market. WIOA would work to steer these young people away from separate employment centers, called sheltered workshops, and towards integrated jobs.

It all amounts to several billion dollars of jobs training, but the patchwork of programs the bill governs are widely seen as dated and have been increasingly vulnerable to funding cuts.

The bill the Senate passed Wednesday represents a modest update. Lawmakers and advocates often cited their desire to “not let the perfect be the enemy of the good” as they pushed to reach consensus.

Democrats and advocates such as the National Skills Coalition, for instance, had hoped the bill would prioritize partnerships between businesses, higher education and the workforce development infrastructure.

But Republicans did not want to add new programs or layers of bureaucracy. The resulting compromise puts a softer focus on the partnerships.“It’s not going to drive the change we want to see,” said Rachel Gragg, federal policy director at the National Skills Coalition, which supports the bill nonetheless.

The Obama administration’s priorities also took a hit. President Barack Obama has touted the Workforce Innovation Fund, which rewards innovative approaches to skills training. The program would be eliminated under WIOA. The administration expressed disappointment about the fund Wednesday but said it supports the bill regardless.

And though many senators were able to make changes to the bill, not all got everything on their wish lists. Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) also wanted changes to the bill that they withdrew at the last minute, Isakson said.

Murray emphasized that moving the bill has been “a work in progress,” and said she and Isakson included ideas from other senators to help them feel like they could “own a little bit” of WIOA.

The bill now heads to the House.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), who authored the House version, said she is “cautiously optimistic” about the bill’s future. There have been no changes in the Senate that may derail it, she said. The House could take up the bill this summer but likely not before the July recess, Foxx said.

Isakson said he hoped the bill could pass under suspension of the rules in the House, which requires a two-thirds vote, if it got “a good vote in the Senate.”


Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/federal-workforce-programs-jobs-senate-bill-108310.html#ixzz35yXbdzwO

 

April 8th via USA Today

Boy genius' celebrity grows with new book, movie deal

Eric Weddle, The Indianapolis Star7:04 p.m. EDT April 8, 2013

Diagnosed at 2 as autistic, Jacob Barnett, now 14, is focused on learning more about astrophysics and becoming a professor.

INDIANAPOLIS -- The extraordinary life of young prodigy Jacob Barnett has become routine — almost.

Less than two months shy of turning 15, Jacob is in college majoring in math and physics before venturing deeper into the world of research and eventually a Ph.D.

Students at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis no longer gawk at their younger classmate pulling a travel suitcase of textbooks and who tutors calculus and other math each Friday. He's just another student, albeit one who daydreams of equations and ends up named in articles with titles such as, "Five Kids Who Are Smarter Than Albert Einstein."

Since The Indianapolis Star first introduced Jacoband his family to readers in 2011, many have come to know, and even celebrate, Jacob's hunger for learning and journey from a child expected to never speak, to one who calculated his own expanded theory of relativity.

Now Jacob's story and academic celebrity could spread even further.

On Tuesday, his mom Kristine Barnett's book, The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius, will be released. The memoir, released by Random House (2013, $40), is the inside story of that journey for Jacob and his parents. It will be available in 20 foreign countries and the wheels of Hollywood already are turning to adapt it into a movie. Warner Bros. has acquired rights to the story.

This summer, the Barnett family will travel out of the country for the first time, to London and Canada, to promote the book.


Jacob Barnett, 14, takes a break from explaining trigonometry, at his Westfield, Ind. home on April 3, to spin a slinky, trying to get a second frequency in its spin.(Photo: Kelly Wilkinson, The Indianapolis Star)

For Jacob the hoopla around his intelligence is "cool," he says. His focus remains on learning more about astrophysics, becoming a professor and taking the fear out of learning math.

Yet Jacob does see value in his life story thus far — from a diagnosis of autism at age 2, that said he may never interact with others socially, to his mom's decision to pull him out of special education classes. She then nurtured his growing interest in astronomy and math. By 8, he was sitting in on math classes at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and then scoring genius levels on IQ tests and later enrolled as a student in undergraduate and graduate level courses.

"Well, I hope it really inspires the children to actually be doing something, a science or physics — even if it is not science," he said of the book and likely movie. "Just encourages them to do what they like doing. I just hope it is inspirational."

'To truly understand'

Along this path, Jacob has developed his own philosophy. At a TEDxTeen talk last year he was energetic, walking a New York City stage in flip-flops and telling the audience to "be the field," or basically learn, then think and finally create something new.

That is what Jacob is starting to do, said Yogesh Joglekar, an associate professor who leads a research group Jacob is part of. There the 14-year old works on theoretical physics problems dealing with loss or gains in electronic or light systems.

"Jake has enrolled in and carried out this sort of research or advanced reading every semester and summer that I have known him. It is this tenacity and dedication that is most remarkable in a young student as gifted as he is," said Joglekar. "This will help him do exceptionally well in graduate school and beyond, because now he understands what it means to 'truly understand' and not just 'be superficially acquainted with.' "

Not enough time

Despite the impending spotlight on the Barnett family from the book release, mom Kristine says they are still like most Indiana residents. She and husband Michael run a charitable community center called Jacob's Place for autistic and special-needs children and their families.

"We are just a regular family. So this is really bizarre," she said of the book and movie deal. "You do feel like you have a public responsibility to inspire people and help people. But on a day-to-day basis, you are just you."

Their two-story house in Westfield, Ind., could be a laboratory. In addition to Jacob writing math equations on the windows and his oscilloscope, a device used to track voltage and measure it as a function of time, younger brothers Ethan, 9, likes to grow cultures and Wes, 12, is an amateur storm chaser within the neighborhood.

It is not easy. It is part of who I am but it is not all of me. I am a physicist. - Jacob Barnett

 

Jacob's spare time is consumed with taking online courses, sometimes with his brother, from top research universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Andrew Tsesis, a 15-year-old high school sophomore from Long Island, N.Y., became friends with Jacob and his mom after meeting them in New York City. Andrew, who promotes science and math education in K-12 schools, said many see Jacob as inspirational, for his social skills and intelligence.

Maybe, a feature film on Jacob's life story could help others if it's not "cheesy," he said.

'Not easy'

Kristine Barnett says the book is for any parent seeking to find a path for their child, not just for parents dealing with autism.

Jacob didn't begin speaking "normal," he said until two years ago. Typically, classmates at the university don't suspect he has autism. When students find out, he said, they are often surprised.

But Jacob, as he says, didn't wake up one day magically "cured" from the disorder. He continues to fight it. Sitting in the airy kitchen of his home, he points to a shelf unit. Sitting in that small space would make him feel more comfortable. The buzzing of lights also can become upsetting.

"He overcomes it everyday. There are things he knows about himself that he regulates everyday," his mother said.

Jacob talks easily about his autism and laughs at the misconceptions. While he admits to not easily grasping sarcasm used by others, he's quick to joke.

"It is not easy. It is part of who I am but it is not all of me. I am a physicist," he said, before making another crack: "And I'm a speaker, supposedly."

As of a week ago Jacob had yet to finish his mom's book that Amazon.com ranked No. 8 in parenting books on disabilities and No. 9 for biographies and memoirs of scientists. He expected to like it and not be embarrassed.

"Don't spoil it," he laughed. "I am about 50 pages in."

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/08/indiana-boy-genius-book/2064921/ )

April 3rd via Franklin College Campus News

IU Institute Grant Supports Franklin College's Program for Students with Disabilities

Franklin College is welcoming five high school students with intellectual disabilities to its campus this semester, thanks in part to a grant from Indiana University’s Institute on Disability and Community and its Center on Community Living and Careers. The institute, a partner in the Indiana Postsecondary Education Coalition, creates programs on Indiana campuses that give students with intellectual disabilities a chance to participate in college life and obtain hands-on work experience before they begin applying for jobs in their communities.This month, students participating in Franklin’s new INSPIRE program, took part in a meet-and-greet activity on campus that served to formally introduce INSPIRE—which stands for Individual Needs in Special Places to Increase Relevant work Experience—to Franklin College faculty, staff and fellow students.

“INSPIRE will help us get experience to get a job and help us take care of ourselves for the rest of our lives,” says Richie Olopade, a student from Center Grove High School.

“The students are excited to be here,” says Megan Horsely, transition coordinator with Special Services of Johnson County, who began putting the pieces of the program together last October. “This whole project has just blown up in a good way,” she says. “It’s going wonderfully.”

Most of the INSPIRE students are in their final year of school at a Johnson County high school. The students are able to participate in some activities on campus thanks to a Franklin partnership with Center Grove and Franklin Community high schools, the Special Services special education unit serving Johnson County schools, and the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community.

Initially, the students are gaining vocational experiences in the campus food service and custodial departments, says Megan Horsely, transition coordinator with Special Services of Johnson County. Plans are to expand those opportunities to office and grounds keeping work as soon as they can put supports in place. In addition, the INSPIRE team is working through Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services to establish better outcomes for students. A couple of the students already have paid jobs, working off campus. Socially, Horsely adds, “the INSPIRE students have lunch with their college peers every day.”

“This semester the students will also be participating in various educational experiences,” says Karen Burgard, chair of Franklin’s department of education. “For example, one student will be paired with a senior art major and create art in our Franklin College art studio for the entire semester. Two others will participate in a wellness and health promotion class,” she adds. Essentially, Franklin athletic training students will provide health and wellness assessments to the INSPIRE students while also giving them guidance on physical fitness and activities.

The IU grant, adds Horsely, will also allow the postsecondary partnership to develop a mentor program, matching INSPIRE students with those in Franklin’s education department.

Horsely notes that they hope to be able to increase the total number of INSPIRE students to 12 next year by opening up the opportunity to six other local school districts.

This is the third Indiana university hoping to build a successful college/work experience program for students with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) works with students who are transitioning from the Indianapolis Public Schools as well as those from other Indianapolis area school systems, and Vincennes University Jasper Campus began a similar program in south central Indiana in 2012.

“Having that campus experience for eight months can really improve the outlook and possibilities for a student with disabilities,” said Jean Updike, project coordinator at IU’s Center on Community Living and Careers. Updike has been encouraging other Indiana universities to establish postsecondary programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities on campuses around the state.

Pointing to the national program ThinkCollege!, at www.thinkcollege.net,  Updike notes that other states around the nation have successful programs providing inclusion opportunities to students with disabilities and have found that the programs ultimately benefit not just the students themselves, but also faculty and other students on campus. Building upon that, the Indiana Postsecondary Education Coalition has its own ThinkCollege Indiana website at www.thinkcollegeindiana.org to provide information and resources to students, families and professionals.

About the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community

The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, Indiana’s University Center for Excellence on Disabilities, works to increase community capacity in disability through academic instruction, research, dissemination and training, and technical assistance. With a focus on employment, secondary education, and transition to adult life and services, the Indiana Institute’s Center on Community Living and Careers brings positive change to people with disabilities and their families as they work and participate in their communities.

About the Office of the Vice Provost for Research

The Indiana Institute receives support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Indiana University Bloomington, which is dedicated to supporting ongoing faculty research and creative activity, developing new multidisciplinary initiatives and maximizing the potential of faculty to accomplish path-breaking work.

About Franklin College

Founded in 1834, Franklin College is a residential four-year undergraduate liberal arts institution with a scenic, wooded campus, located 20 minutes south of downtown Indianapolis. The college prepares men and women for challenging careers and fulfilling lives through the liberal arts, offering its approximately 1, 000 students 36 majors, 39 minors, and 11 pre-professional programs. In 1842 the college began admitting women, becoming the first coeducational institution in Indiana and the seventh in the nation. Franklin College maintains a voluntary association with the American Baptist Churches USA. For more information, visit www.FranklinCollege.edu.

 

Grant from IU Institute helps students with disabilities gain skills at Indiana colleges

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Ten high school students with intellectual disabilities are working and studying at Vincennes University Jasper Campus (VUJC) this semester, thanks in part to a grant from Indiana University’s Indiana Institute on Disability and Community and its Center on Community Living and Careers.

The institute, a partner in the Indiana Postsecondary Education Coalition, creates programs on Indiana campuses that give students with intellectual disabilities a chance to participate in college life and obtain hands]on work experience before they begin applying for jobs in their communities.

The Advocacy, Independence and Mastery (AIM) Academy opened this fall for students with special needs who are 17]21 and who are typically in their final year at Dubois County high schools. The academy operates at VUJC through a partnership of the Dubois]Spencer]Perry Exceptional Children’s Cooperative, Southern Indiana Resource Solutions, VUJC and the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community.

AIM Academy students, like 20]year]old Kaci Schwinghamer from Forest Park High School, divide their time between classroom learning and working various jobs on campus. Schwinghamer is now learning to vacuum floors and clean dining trays at the VUJC Bistro. Other students are inflating basketballs in the gym, shredding documents, or cleaning windows.

“Our goal is to get students into off]campus paid work,” said Mande Keusch, the cooperative’s vocational transition director. Keusch, along with job coaches from Southern Indiana Resource Solutions, is now actively recruiting local businesses that could provide paid work experiences for students in the upcoming semester.

She’s also hoping Indiana school corporations will take an interest in the AIM Academy, not only to ultimately provide jobs to AIM students, but also to mentor students and help with transportation costs, possibly by providing a scholarship for AIM students.

Southern Indiana Resource Solutions program instructors Jennifer Matheis and Jesse Hubert are responsible for job coaching and teaching AIM students skills they will need to be successful employees, such as completing tasks in a timely manner, arriving on time, using a checking account, or just having conversations with friends and co]workers. The overall purpose of the instruction is to help students gain independence, new skills, and confidence as they encounter new people, situations, and environments.

This is the second Indiana university hoping to build a successful college/work experience program for students with disabilities. The VUJC program is based on a similar one at Indiana University]Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), which works with students who are transitioning from the Indianapolis Public Schools and other Indianapolis area school systems.

“Having that campus experience for eight months can really improve the outlook and possibilities for a student with disabilities,” said Jean Updike, project coordinator at IU’s Center on Community Living and Careers. Updike has been encouraging other Indiana universities to establish postsecondary programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Pointing to the national program ThinkCollege!, at  www.thinkcollege.net, Updike notes that other states around the nation have very successful programs providing inclusion opportunities to students with disabilities and have found that the programs ultimately benefit not just the students themselves, but also faculty and other students on campus. Building upon that, the Indiana Postsecondary Education Coalition has its own ThinkCollege Indiana website at www.thinkcollegeindiana.org to provide information and resources to students, families, and professionals.

“Many of the Indianapolis students in the IUPUI program have wonderful success stories to tell,” said Updike. “Several students now have jobs. Some navigate the bus system and travel to the Indy library, their jobs, or to meet friends and attend community events. That’s a tremendous confidence boost for them. To watch the ‘before’ and ‘after’ lives that these students lead is just phenomenal. We’re excited that the students at VUJC will now have the chance to tell their own success stories.”

The CenteronCommunityLivingandCareers is part of the IndianaInstituteonDisabilityand Community at Indiana University Bloomington. Both receive support from the Officeofthe ViceProvostforResearch, which is dedicated to supporting ongoing faculty research and creative activity, developing new multidisciplinary initiatives, and maximizing the potential of faculty to accomplish path]breaking work.

For more information, please contact: Joel Fosha, IIDC Communications Manager at (812) 855-6508 or foshaj@indiana.edu.

IPSEC Member, David Mank wins Distinuished Achievement Award

Congratulations to David Mank, who received the 2012 Distinguished Achievement Award by the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) in honor of his many generous contributions to AUCD and the disabilities field.

The Distinguished Achievement Award is the highest accolade presented by AUCD and is given to individuals or organizations making distinguished lifetime contributions to people with developmental disabilities and their families. Past recipients have included Eunice Kennedy Shriver and the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation and Justin Dart.

IPSEC Members Participate in State of the Art Conference

November 3, 2011 – A group from Indiana attended the State of the Art conference for Post Secondary programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Attendees include Jan Huffman, keynote speaker David Mank, Gwen Chesterfield, Jean Updike, and and Pat Rogan. IPSEC representatives attend State of the Art in November 2011.

 IPSEC Participates in 2011 Statewide Transition Forum

August 4, 2011 – Jean Updike (IIDC) and Tim Borek (Down Syndrome Indiana) hosted a Table Talk discussion with fellow forum attendees on Wednesday, August 3. The 2011 Statewide Transition Forum, “Lights, Camera, Action . . . A Student-Directed Production,” took place at the Sheraton Hotel and Suites at Keystone at the Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana on August 3rd and 4th. The event offered panel discussions, keynote speakers, and seminar-style training for individuals with disabilities, parents, caregivers, educators, and employers.

Borek and Updike unveiled new signage at their Table Talk and demonstrated the IPSEC website as a resource for people with intellectual disabilities in Indiana who think college might be for them. They made valuable contact with people from all over Indiana.

“I found the Zooming in on College panel discussion very inspirational,” reported Borek, Self Advocate Coordinator at Down Syndrome Indiana. “As a member of the Indiana Postsecondary Education Coalition, hearing first-hand from young people with Autism spectrum disorders about how they overcame challenges to complete their college degree programs was a real motivator.”

IN Statewide Transition Forum

 

 

IIDC Awarded $2.5 Million Grant

July 1, 2011 -- Indiana University's Indiana Institute on Disability and Community has been awarded a five-year grant of almost $2.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education for model demonstration programs promoting the successful transition of students with intellectual disabilities into higher education.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the award of $10.9 million for 28 grants under two new federal programs that create opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to attend, and be successful, in higher education.

"President Obama has set a goal for America to have the highest percentage of college graduates in the world by 2020," Duncan said. "These new programs make an important contribution toward that goal by giving students with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to receive a quality postsecondary education with the supports they need to attend, complete and succeed in higher education."

Key components of the IIDC's Indiana Partnership for Postsecondary Education and Careers Project will include:

Partnerships with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) which has an emerging postsecondary programs for persons with intellectual disabilities and a second Institution of Higher Education;

An Indiana coalition that includes advocacy and provider organizations and institutions of higher education;

Planning with institutions of higher education that have shown interest in this opportunity;

Recruitment of additional colleges and universities; and

Data collection and evaluation on project achievement, social inclusion, and career outcomes.

For more information on the Indiana Partnership for Postsecondary Education Project, contact Jean Updike at jupdike@indiana.edu. For more information on the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, visit http://www.iidc.indiana.edu.