Eastern Michigan, U.S. Dept. of Education to host special education roundtable Sept. 9

by Pamela Young, Published September 09, 2011

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 YPSILANTI - Eastern Michigan University and the U.S. Department of Education will host a roundtable, "Education and the Economy," Friday, Sept. 9, 10 a.m. to noon, in the EMU Student Center ballroom.

The program will focus on special education issues, including preparing special education teachers, plus their recruitment and retention.  It is part of the Department of Education's campaign to promote the role of the nation's educators, parents, administrators and education stakeholders in preparing students to compete in the growing global economy. The program is free and open to the public.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for discussing the critical role of special education teachers," said Jann Joseph, dean of Eastern Michigan's College of Education. "Eastern Michigan is at the forefront in educating special education teachers, so we are excited that we were chosen by the Department of Education to host and participate in the roundtable."

The morning begins with a welcome by EMU President Susan Martin, and a presentation by Alexa Posny, the U.S. Department of Education's assistant secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.  A roundtable, moderated by Joseph, will immediately follow.

Panelists include:

  • Alexa Posny, U.S. Department of Education, assistant secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS)
  • Eleanor White, director of Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services,
  • Laurie Montgomery, assistant superintendent of special education, Kalamazoo RESA (regional educational service agency)
  • Caryn Pack Ivey, Michigan Alliance and parent representative
  • Derrick Fries, associate professor, Eastern Michigan University
  • Benjamin White, president-elect, Michigan Student Council for Exceptional Children
  • Celeste Gentile, instruction specialist, Early College Alliance at EMU/Washtenaw Intermediate School District, teacher consultant

Eastern Michigan's Department of Special Education is the largest in the state, and one of the largest in the country, said Phil Smith, interim department head for special education.

"Our program, which was established in 1914, trains educators in more disability areas than any other university in Michigan," Smith said. "EMU offers the only undergraduate program in Michigan in visual impairments; the only program in hearing impairments, and the only program for students with physical and other health impairments."

There is a nationwide demand for special education educators who are experienced in various disabilities, according to Smith. EMU has approximately 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in special education programs.

The roundtable program is part of the U.S. Department of Education's Great Lakes Back-to-School bus tour Sept. 7-9. The tour highlights the Obama administration's efforts to promote education reform and innovation across the country.


Pamela Young

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