- The Washington Times - Monday, September 14, 2009

Kennedy’s IDEA in Harkin’s hands

Health care reform wasn’t the only pet project of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, that Congress faces this session. Funding for special education is atop the list. With Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, being named head of the Senate committee overseeing education, full funding of special education might be a possibility, says Education Week blogger Lisa Fine.

Mr. Harkin, a Democrat, has long advocated full funding for the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. Mr. Kennedy was an original co-sponsor of the measure, which was passed by Congress in 1975. However, advocates say Congress never lived up to its original intent to pay for special education costs.

Federal IDEA funding has never been higher than 18 percent, but Mr. Harkin and Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, have reintroduced a bill that would cover 40 percent of the average per-pupil cost of special education.

“We tell our children all the time to keep their promises, to live up to their commitments, to do as they say they are going to do. It is time for the federal government to make good on its promise to students with disabilities in this country,” Mr. Harkin said.

Mr. Roberts made similar comments and added that the burden on state and local governments needs to be lifted “especially in these tough economic times.”

Ms. Fine said Bruce Hunter, associate executive director of public policy for the American Association of School Administrators, was optimistic about funding.

“This is the best opportunity for getting 40 percent we have ever had,” she quoted Mr. Hunter as saying. “The new funding is especially important to continue the improvement of services for students with disabilities [and] take up the slack for shortfalls in state and local funding that are sure to happen over the next two to three years. I expect that Senator Harkin can put IDEA funding on the glide path to 40 percent in this Congress, maybe not this year, but surely in the coming year.”

The 411 on HITN

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and the Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network (HITN) have teamed up to give families and mentors practical information on a complicated process - college admissions.

“College Admissions 411,” which airs on Wednesdays and Saturday, will look at the importance of grades and standardized tests, give step-by-step advice on financial aid and offer a timeline on the application process. Many of the scenes were shot at the Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem.

“Both HITN and HACU want to reach every student in America who dreams of a better life through a college education but may not be aware of the opportunities within his or her reach,” said HACU president and chief executive officer Antonio R. Flores. “Through ‘College Admissions 411,’ we also aim to help every Spanish-speaking adult who is working with an aspiring Latino student - as a parent, teacher, administrator or mentor - become a true champion of Hispanic success in higher education.”

Omarosa enters seminary in search of ‘God’s purpose’

Remember Omarosa? The woman who started “The Apprentice” with three names but by the time she was fired by Donald Trump was known simply as the villain? Well, she’s back in school, in search of a better Omarosa.

Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, who graduated from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and earned her master’s degree at Howard University, is back in Ohio working on a doctorate in ministry at United Theological Seminary in Dayton.

Her classmates say she’s sincere, and Omarosa herself says she wants to learn God’s purpose for her.

“I made a very personal decision to study the word of God,” she said. “I want to grow as a person and finally discover what God’s purpose for my life is.”

• Compiled by staff.

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