Friday, March 24, 2017

Terese Jurgensen ~ Director of Student Services/Special Education ~ March 23, 2017

         Here is our friend, Max Garcia! He spoke at Fairfield, Iowa to a crowd of over 800 people!

Max Garcia, Holocaust Survivor, and father of one of the most influential people for Social Emotional Learning around the globe, Michelle Garcia Winner ~ creator of Social Thinking, spoke last week in Fairfield, Iowa. My husband, Deron and I traveled to Fairfield to see Max, and it was a wonderful, inspiring experience. Pictured above, Max and I are visiting in the hotel lobby where he was staying. You can see in the middle picture, that Max and I are laughing. He had just told me that "You could talk down and convince Donald Trump of anything! He would have a hard time talking you down!"  Love it and so true!! What was happening at that moment was that I was telling some people in the lobby about Max and his inspirational life. Here is an excerpt from an email that he sent me this week in talking about his experience in Fairfield and about Iowans in general: 

Saturday late afternoon

Dear Terese,

It was such a delight to see you again and with your husband and especially so I was able to hug you in his presence. (This is Max's joke!)

The House was filled!!!! Over 800 people, according to the Chamber of Commerce, and it went on until 11:00 pm! We stopped talking about what I had said and then started the questions!! I am so sorry you had to go home even I was astounded that my listeners could not get enough. I sold over 150 books. Wow!

After I went to the hotel it took me quite a while before I could turn out the lights in my room and turn on my side and go to sleep.

What I have told you before I'll reiterate here, "There is something about Iowans. They are so helpful, so keen to help that is quite a problem for a Californian to accept it. But I learned!"

We sold over 150 books and tomorrow I'll start signing the ones I have here.

I am glad to have met your husband and I look forward to seeing you again this coming December. (Max would like Deron and I to visit in December during a Social Thinking Conference.)

Stay well!  E N J O Y   L I F E !!!



I am so blessed by Max Garcia and his living testimony that calls us all to be strong, persevere, believe in the impossible, overcome all odds, live fiercely and most importantly to stay well and E N J O Y  L I F E!

If you would like the book Max wrote on the Holocaust or have not received yours, please contact me immediately, and I will make sure you get a signed copy!

Unanimous Supreme Court Ruling on Special Education Law ~  Overturns "Meaningful Benefit"

I was super excited to read on Wednesday this week that a Supreme Court ruling has overturned major language in special education law within the parameters of a previous Supreme Court ruling that was from 1982 Supreme Court precedent on special education, Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley The term is:  "de minimis."  What that term means is "Educational Benefit." In my personal language it means..."Good Enough."  Although Rowley is a Supreme Court precedent, it is not something we believe in at Howard-Winnesheik CSD. We believe at Howard-Winneshiek, that "All kids can learn at high levels!"  

Personally, my family and I have been affected by this ridiculous standard of "de minimis" ~ "Educational Benefit" ~ "Good Enough." Our stories are long and arduous and painful and there is not time to reflect on these here. But when I did share my personal stories in regard to what happened in our family, people always respond..."You could not make that up!"  It is because of my personal story and the pain suffered that drives me each and every day to ensure that our students at Howard-Winn are receiving above and beyond the services and supports they deserve. My family often comments, "If you can help one child because of what happened with will be worth it!" 

Here is what went into law on Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017. The information provided is from Education Week,

The decision comes in the case of a Colorado student named Endrew F. whose autism led to behavioral issues in school. After four years in the Douglas County schools, near Denver, the boy's parents believed his academic and functional progress had stalled. Endrew F.'s individualized education programs largely  carried over the same educational goals and objectives from one year to the next, Roberts observed, "indicating he was failing to make meaningful progress toward his aims."
The chief justice discussed the Rowley decision and said its reference to IEPs conferring "some educational benefit" and other language "in isolation do support the school district's argument."
"But the district makes too much of them," Roberts said. "We cannot accept the school district's reading of Rowley."
Roberts said the "reasonably calculated" standard will not require an "ideal" IEP, but one that "must aim to enable the child to make progress."
And "that the progress contemplated by the IEP must be appropriate in light of the child's circumstances should come as no surprise," he said. "A focus on the particular child is at the core of the IDEA."
He said for children in special education who are in a regular classroom, an IEP should be reasonably calculated "to enable the child to achieve passing marks and advance from grade to grade."
For a child for whom a regular classroom is not "a reasonable prospect," the chief justice said, the educational program must be "appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances."
"Of course this describes a general standard, not a formula," Roberts said. "But whatever else can be said about it, this standard is markedly more demanding than the 'merely more than de minimis' test applied by the 10th Circuit."
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the opinion for the eight-member court, and he delivered much of it from the bench Wednesday morning.

"When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing 'merely more than de minimis' progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all," Roberts said. "For children with disabilities, receiving instruction that aims so low would be tantamount to 'sitting idly ... awaiting the time when they were old enough to drop out,'" he added, quoting from key 1982 Supreme Court precedent on special education, Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley
"The IDEA ~ Individuals with Disabilities Act ~ demands more," the chief justice said. "It requires an educational program reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child's circumstances."

During the winter months, Howard-Winn offers tutoring which is led by Lynn Murray. Countless teachers across the district, K-12, are involved in tutoring these elementary students. The tutoring concluded this week with a big celebration, awards and smiles all around! A huge thank you to Mrs. Murray, teaching staff, students and parents who created meaningful learning to our elementary students!

Have a great week!

If you need to contact me, Terese Jurgensen, you may do so at 

(563) 929-6344 
or at 


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