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Education Prof. Carl Cohn to co-chair California special education task force

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Carl Cohn, director of the Urban Leadership Program in Claremont Graduate University's School of Educational Studies, has been tapped to lead a new task force formed to examine California's complex systems for serving students with disabilities.

Carl CohnThe 32-member Statewide Special Education Task Force held its first meeting on Dec. 17 in San Mateo.

Students with disabilities are among the lowest performing groups in California schools. Programs and policies aimed at helping these students are often isolated and separate from the general education system. However, research shows that the most effective models are those that integrate special education as one of many programs of support under the umbrella of general education.

The task force will identify a vision for how California can best serve special education students. It will forward its recommendations to the State Board of Education, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and the California Department of Education.

Cohn will co-chair of the task force with Fred Weintraub, a former administrator for the Council for Exceptional Children who currently serves as the federal court appointed monitor for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Other task force members are parents, teachers, school and district administrators, university professors, and policy-makers.

"This new task force demonstrates our state's commitment to bold and courageous policy reforms designed to better prepare all students for the 21st century," Cohn said. "Along with the Local Control Funding Formula and the Common Core State Standards initiatives, this new effort to craft a stronger mission and vision for students with disabilities marks our state's return to being a pioneering leader in putting the interests of children first. As always, I'm thankful that CGU values faculty participation in emerging state-policymaking, which enhances our ability to better prepare our graduate students to lead schools and school systems."

Cohn's career in education has spanned more than 30 years. In 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown appointed him to the state Board of Education, where he continues to serve.

He has worked as a teacher, counselor, professor, superintendent, and federal court monitor. He served as superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District in California from 1992–2002. During his tenure, the district achieved record attendance, the lowest rate of suspension in a decade, decreases in student failure and dropout rates, and an increase in the number of students taking college preparatory classes.

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