Volume:4, Issue: 2

Aug. 15, 2012

In This Issue
Dear friends, colleagues, and readers of the journal
Tsyrlina-Spady, Tatyana [about]
This new issue is very special – it is already No.10. It is hard to believe, and it feels like we started just yesterday but we have already walked a long way trying to find challenging topics and creative authors, although we are still quite young and open for new knowledge and new approaches. Due to our young age many things are new for us. For example, for the first time we are giving all the journal space to the proceedings of the Russian-American seminar that was held in March 2012 in Kursk, Russia, and was devoted to the topic of special education. To bring to Russia a large group of academics and practitioners from this field sounds next to impossible, and we have managed only due to an incredible help and support from both nations. This is why I will start with words of gratitude – to Professor Melinda Pierson, Head of Special Education Department, California State University Fullerton, and to her faculty members Dr. Debra Cote and Dr. Vita Jones, to the most active supporter of the journal and president of AMERUS Ltd Jack Mc Gurgan, a specialist in the field with over 30 years of experience Kathy Cioffi, to an editorial board member Professor Ginger MacDonald, Associate Vice Chancellor, University of Washington Tacoma, and to a manager at a unique facility for adults with special needs Deb Doornenbal.
An Overview of Special Education in the United States
Pierson, Melinda R. [about]
Individuals with disabilities have existed since the beginning of time, but services to educate them have not. In the United States, special education services began at the end of the 18th century for students with sensory impairments. Early in the 19th century, children who were considered to be “idiots” or “insane” were first given opportunities at schooling. Today, in the United States, these children are said to have intellectual disabilities and emotional or behavioral disorders. Children were offered an asylum for protection from the world around them. Now children with disabilities in the United States are given full educational services regardless of the disability and many are fully included in general education classrooms and schools.
Resiliency in Early Childhood Practices
Jones, Vita L. [about]
The concept of resilience in students has been discussed for several decades. Educators, parents and community stakeholders understand the necessity of producing a viable workforce. Throughout a child’s academic discourse students may be exposed to various adversities or setbacks, which threaten their scholastic ability to successfully navigate through the school system. Fostering the characteristics of resilience at an early age empowers students to compete and flourish in school settings. The early development of these characteristics instills hope, self-discipline, and autonomy.
Students with Disabilities and Self-Determination
Cote, Debra L. [about]
Throughout history, the rights of individuals with disabilities to be heard have been unrecognized or overlooked. Long into the 20th century, it was still a common practice for others to make decisions about their interests. In 1972, Nirje emphasized that self-determination should be an entitled right for individuals with disabilities. In order to foster these behaviors in students with disabilities, schools, teachers, and parents must work together to help them learn the skills that lead to self-determination and problem solving. In order to make good choices and decisions, students with disabilities need autonomous experiences (i.e., advocate for him or herself) that facilitate the development of self-determination and critical problem-solving skills. However, they require specific instruction related to self-determination with opportunities to practice the component skills. Students with disabilities who exit the school environment with self-determination skills are more successful in inclusive environments.
Further Professional Development of Psychological, Medical and Pedagogical Council Experts as a Preparatory Phase in Designing Inclusive Educational Environment
Zubareva, Tatyana G. [about]
Accessible quality education is among core life values of a citizen in any country. It is also a key factor in achieving social justice and political stability of the society in general. That is why it has become really important today to implement inclusive educational environment (IEE) which would meet the needs of all children irrespective of their financial, intellectual, social, emotional and other conditions, and which would encompass both children with disabilities and gifted children, living in remote locations, representing various language, ethnic and cultural minorities, as well as disadvantaged children. It is equally important for the IEE to provide accessible quality education and successful socialization of students without dividing them into the “fully-able majority” and “disabled minority”. Inclusive educational environment is characterized by value-oriented attitude to education, upbringing and personality development of children with special educational needs (SEN), integrated resources (facilities, internal and external conditions) of their life activity in mainstream institutions and orientation towards realization of students’ individual educational strategies.
Special Needs Children and the Kursk Center for Psychological-Medical-Social Support
Zubareva, Tatyana G. [about], Petelina, Natalia G. [about]
According to data supplied by the Committee on Education and Science for the Kursk Oblast (Region,) 66, 616 pre-school children and 102, 446 school age (6 to 17 years of age) reside in the region as of October 1, 2011. Of this number 3, 273 children have been classified as “invalids” or “disabled” in some way. This figure represents around 2% of the general student population. Of these 3,144 receive an education under the label of “Limited Health Abilities.” 1,207 receive it in a general-education school, 429 at home, and only 392 in the public, special education system. Even though our region has all types of special (corrective and rehabilitational) institutions for children with “limited abilities,” in some cases it is difficult for them to gain access to a quality education from the particular institutions in the area where they live.
Choice is a Natural Right of Each Human Being
Kitsul, Natalya S. [about], Maslova, Zhanna V. [about]
The Russian Federation ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Individuals with Disabilities on the 3rd of March, 2012. (The RF had signed the accord in 2008.) This means that thousands of people now have the opportunity not only to learn about their own rights but to enjoy the “right of choice” in making their own decisions regarding employment; education; medical, social, corrective, and developmental services; and, very importantly, where they will reside. In reality, up to now, social services did not offer people with special needs very many options in their way of life.
One Region’s Response: Services for People with Disabilities in Columbia County
Mc Gurgan, Jack [about]
Located on New York State’s eastern bank of the Hudson River and more than 100 miles north of New York City, Columbia County is typical of rural areas throughout the United States of America. It has a relatively small but diverse population of mainly middle class citizens that is spread over a large geographical area of farms and woodlands. Its one city, Hudson, has a population of about 10,000 people counting the city and its closest “suburbs” which form the shopping and medical services center for the region. Albany, the state capital, is about an hour’s drive to the north. Public institutions in Columbia County face the same state regulations as every other area of New York State and the same federal regulations guiding institutions throughout the United States of America.
Transition to Adult Life in the Community for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
Barrett, Donna [about], Schneider, Alex [about]
Coarc is nonprofit agency in Columbia County, New York, that provides programs and services to over 500 individuals with developmental disabilities, intellectual or physical impairments manifested prior to age 22. A group of concerned parents of children with developmental disabilities established Coarc in 1965, believing that every child deserved a healthy, happy, productive life. The parents worked together to develop services and opportunities for their children to grow into full contributing members of their community. Beginning with a preschool and summer day camp, Coarc programs expanded as those children became teenagers, then adults. Coarc services now include vocational training, employment and residential options. These services focus on developing individuals’ independence, empowerment and choice in determining the direction of their own lives, with the mission to expand abilities, one person at a time, so individuals experiencing disabilities can achieve their individual goals.
On Some Activities of Kursk Regional Center for Psychological, Medical and Social Support
Petelina, Natalia G. [about]
Providing accessible high quality education implies implementation of an educational environment that would ensure successful socialization of every student including those with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities. In Kursk, such a range of services is offered in the Kursk Regional Center for Psychological, Medical and Social Support. The opening of the Center was received with rising hopes both by doctors and teachers.
May All Your Dreams Come True
Doornenbal, Deb [about]
There’s nothing quite as precious as looking at a newborn. We look and wonder, “What will they be doing in a month, a year, or even as an adult?” When a baby is born, the parents have hopes and dreams for that child. Hopes and dreams might change as the child grows and shows areas of strengths as well as preferences. And what about the mom and dad who have a child who is born with a disability? Yes!!! They have hopes and dreams as well. They want their child to be happy, to live an independent life, and for that life to have purpose. Village Northwest Unlimited is a place where those hopes and dreams come true. Over 40 years ago a physical therapist who worked with disabled children had a vision of what life might be like for some of those children as adults. He saw a place where they could live, grow, develop and lead productive happy lives.
The Impressions of an American Special Educator
Cioffi, Katherine [about]
In this edition of THE RUSSIAN-AMERICAN EDUCATION FORUM which is dedicated to the field of Special Education, it seems fitting to include the very human and personal views of one American who took part in the recent conference in Kursk between Russian and American Educators. It has been 18 years since my first journey to Russia. During that span of time I have often reflected on the deep connection that I have felt with Russia and all of the people I have met. That journey helped me gain new insight into myself and the world we live in. It has helped shape the direction of my views and my life, in general. So when Jack McGurgan, President of the Amerus Exchange, asked me to take part in the March 2012 seminar on Inclusive Education to be held in Kursk, I was ecstatic! I always knew I would return to Russia someday.

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