CBS Slammed: The Council for Exceptional Children is again criticizing CBS's "60 Minutes," calling its recent report on violent special education students an "inaccurate portrayal."
The newsmagazine show ran a segment on March 5 that spotlighted Lance Landers, an emotionally and behaviorally disturbed 16-year-old in Gulf Shores, Ala.
A state court approved Baldwin County District Attorney David Whetstone's request to have the boy barred from all public schools in Alabama because of his violent behavior.
In a letter to Don Hewitt, the show's executive producer, CEC Executive Director Nancy D. Safer wrote that the report left viewers with the impression that students with disabilities are responsible for school violence.
"In fact, not one special education student has been involved in any of the terrible shootings that have plagued our nation," she wrote in the March 6 letter. "Furthermore, data show that students with disabilities are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators."
Three years ago, the CEC and other advocacy groups for such students also protested a "60 Minutes" report on the costs of special education services that aired during the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Kevin Tedesco, a spokesman for CBS, said the network receives hundreds of letters each week and forwards them to the producers of the stories in question. Unless evidence of an egregious error is presented, he said, it is unlikely that any action will be taken.
Increase Sought: Two Republican committee chairmen are renewing their calls for more federal special education funding as Congress begins work on the fiscal 2001 budget.
Rep. Bill Goodling, the Pennsylvanian who chairs the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, called for a $1 billion increase in state grants for special education in the next fiscal year.
The two criticized the White House's proposed budget, which calls for increasing the state grants by $300 million, to $6.05 billion.
"A significant increase of $1 billion or more will signal to the country that we take our existing obligations seriously and allow school districts to better meet the needs of all of their students," they wrote in a March 6 letter to the chairmen of the budget committees.
—Joetta L. Sack [email protected]
Vol. 19, Issue 27, Page 5Published in Print: March 15, 2000, as Special Education