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Opening School Sports To Kids With Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education is telling schools they must include students with disabilities in sports. How will that work?

Seattle Seahawks football player Kennard Cox hands the football off to Juan Herrera during the fifth annual 12th Man Football Cheer Camp in Miami Lakes, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012. The 12th Man Football Cheer Camp was created by Miami Dade police officer Allen Lowy to give those with special needs or disabilities the opportunity to be a part of organized football. (AP)

Seattle Seahawks football player Kennard Cox hands the football off to Juan Herrera during the fifth annual 12th Man Football Cheer Camp in Miami Lakes, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012. The 12th Man Football Cheer Camp was created by Miami Dade police officer Allen Lowy to give those with special needs or disabilities the opportunity to be a part of organized football. (AP)

New guidance from the U.S. Department of Education for schools across the country on disability and sports. On Friday, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights issued a directive to say students with disabilities must be given equal opportunity to compete in school sports.

No presumptions permitted that they can’t do it. And reasonable accommodations must be made. A starting light instead of a gun for a deaf sprinter. And more.

It’s being hailed as a landmark, like Title IX.

This hour, On Point: Opening sport to disabled students. What it means. How it will work.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Christina Samuels, staff writer for Education Week.

Terri Lakowski, CEO of Active Policy Solutions and policy director for the Inclusive Fitness Coalition.

Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank focused on education issues, and a contributor to the Education Gadfly newsletter.

Bruce Whitehead, executive director of the National Athletic Administrators Association.

From Tom’s Reading List

Associated Press “Students with disabilities must be given a fair shot to play on a traditional sports team or have their own leagues, the Education Department says.”

Forbes “Advocates for students with disabilities are rightly equating with the historic Title IX a Department of Education order, released Jan. 25, that orders schools receiving public funding to make reasonable accommodations so that those students may participate in athletics, and asks schools to create additional athletic opportunities for those students for whom reasonable accommodations wouldn’t be enough to ensure their participation.”

Flypaper Blog “The step that federal officials are taking today will have wide-ranging consequences for decades to come. It potentially puts school districts on the hook for billions of dollars in new spending. At the very least, the changes should be subject to the regular regulatory process, which allows for public input, demands an accounting of potential costs, and gives all sides to voice their concerns. A better solution is to let legislators take up this question—and appropriate funds if they decide that wheelchair basketball and the like is a key priority.”

Detroit Free Press “Owen, an eighth-grader with Down syndrome at Van Hoosen Middle School in Rochester Hills, had been practicing with Howell for a couple of months. Now, Owen ran down the court, came off a pick and hit a three-pointer. The crowd at Wednesday’s game against Troy’s Boulan Park went wild, screaming, chanting and waving signs emblazoned with Owen’s name.”

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