Bethesda Beat 10/11/2018 – School Board Candidates Weigh in on Achievement Gap, Boundary Solutions. All call for universal pre-k, better representation of district to lawmakers. “Blaeuer, who participated via recorded message and was not present at the forum, acknowledged the difficulties that could arise when changing the trajectory of students whose parents bought homes in particular areas to ensure they would attend specific high schools. “We need to introduce choice and support that choice, even if that means providing some transportation for students to different places and school choices,” she said. And where I was? At my alma mater, Howard University School of Law, talking with law students about managing stress, mental health, & self-care as part of their program to support the ABA’s Law Student Mental Day, “The Struggle is Real: let’s talk about it.” I am so proud that the law school is supporting their students’ personal AND professional growth while they are there!
Bethesda Beat 9/27/2018 – MoCo School Board Candidates Examine Issues of Equity During Forum Candidates agree that technology use in the classroom has pros and cons. “It is not appropriate that students with disabilities can’t access free public education in their neighborhood school. They have a right to that,” [Blaeuer] said. “A lot of kids and families can’t afford transportation to get to those programs, and you can’t be included if you can’t get there.”….. When the issue of using cell phones for instruction came up, Blaeuer said that the devices could level the playing field for students who aren’t native English speakers, struggle to stay organized or have special needs. “I don’t like cell phones for instruction, but it would have changed my experience in law school if I could take a picture of everything my teacher wrote,” she said. When the candidates were asked about MCPS’s plans to shift to a new curriculum starting early next year in English and math for elementary and middle schools, some of the candidates expressed frustration with the pace at which the shift away from the current Curriculum 2.0 took place. “Parents and teachers knew that Curriculum 2.0 was not working and they plowed ahead anyway,” Blaeuer said.
Washington Post 9/2/2018 – Parents say D.C. buses for special-ed students are unreliable at start of year – Maria Blaeuer, director of programs and outreach at Advocates for Justice and Education — a D.C. nonprofit organization that works with special-needs students to get them the services they require — said troubles with city transportation have made for a challenging start to the school year for many families. But she said the superintendent’s office is attempting to improve the services, meeting with her organization and others to address concerns. “Transportation continues to be an ongoing challenge for students in the District of Columbia, creating hardships for families and preventing students from accessing their education,” Blaeuer wrote in an email.
Bethesda Beat 2/28/2018 – Durso Decides Against Running for Re-Election to School Board – Blaeuer is an attorney who heads up programs and outreach at Advocates for Justice and Education in D.C. She’s a mother of three children, with one attending Laytonsville Elementary School and another at Gaithersburg Middle School. While her family has been generally happy with Montgomery County Public Schools, she said the system doesn’t work equally well for everyone, especially for students with disabilities and non-traditional needs. Blaeuer said she does recognize that she’ll have an uphill battle to defeat an incumbent but thinks her background is an advantage. “I don’t have much name recognition and a complicated last name with four vowels in a row, but I also think that the reason why I’m doing this and my experience in this space makes me somebody that people can get behind,” she said. “Yes, I have a whole lot of background in education policy. But when it comes to education in Montgomery County, mostly, I’m a mom.”
Hechinger Report 12/16/217 – The ‘forgotten’ part of special education that could lead to better outcomes for students – But advocates and lawyers interviewed …. said the vast majority of goals and measures they have seen are vague or even nonsensical and fail to live up to their legal requirements. Plans often include too few goals, or superficial ones. If a student likes football, for example, educators may note that he wants to join the NFL. “Everybody doing this work has seen this [in a] transition plan,” said Maria Blaeuer, staff attorney for the D.C.-based Advocates for Justice and Education. “That’s not a transition plan. That’s just filling in blank lines.” College-bound students might be instructed to research colleges and fill out college applications — but the plans often don’t include training in other essential skills for college, such as how to study. Frequently, transition plans demonstrate low expectations.
WAMU 88.5 8/24/2017 – As D.C. Schools Audit Suspension Reporting Procedures, Some Fight For Students’ Rights – This summer, a Washington Post report found some district high schools, including Dunbar, were removing students from school but not labeling the removal as a suspension. In a few cases, students were marked as present but not allowed in the building. Blaeuer said as the new school year starts, she wants to make sure kids know their rights around Chapter 25, the D.C. municipal code around school discipline, including suspensions and expulsions. For example, when students are suspended they have a right to get everything in writing from their school.
AP 3/24/2018 – March for Our Lives – “It’s pretty simple for me,” said Zoe Tate, 11, from Gaithersburg Middle School in Maryland, explaining why she marched in Washington. “I think guns are dumb. It’s scary enough with the security guards we have in school. We don’t need teachers carrying guns now. I find it amazing that I have to explain that idea to adults.” Said her mother, Maria Blaeuer: “For our kids, feeling safe is fundamental, and they don’t feel safe.”
This article was extra special to me because it is a mother/daughter quote!
Washington Post 7/23/2017 – Undocumented suspensions persisted in D.C. schools despite repeated alerts – Maria Blaeuer, a special-education lawyer, said that since 2010 she has settled multiple due-process complaints with DCPS on behalf of students informally suspended from Kelly Miller Middle School. “To have central office know that this is happening — be aware of it, resolve cases and not doing anything about it — was profoundly disappointing to me,” Blaeuer said.
Politico 11/29/2017 – How Washington Winks at Violent Discipline of Special Needs Kids “Charter schools get to write their own disciplinary code, and they can be as little as one page,” says Maria Blaeuer, an attorney with Advocates for Justice and Education, a family advocacy nonprofit in D.C. “In a lot of ways,” she adds, “it’s a political problem. OSSE is a new agency, it’s small, it doesn’t have a lot of political clout.” If neither agency is enforcing regulations about the use of restraint and seclusion, it’s no surprise that they are not keeping good raw data either. The D.C. charter board said it doesn’t keep data on restraint and seclusion. The only documents it keeps that describe such cases are complaints from parents and families when they feel their children have been improperly restrained or secluded. The board found 43 complaints from 2011 to 2016, but it declined to release them to POLITICO to protect students’ confidentiality. “Charters here operate under a regulatory framework that goes so far back into the mists of time, it essentially lets them operate in their own way and does not include public access to individual schools’ records,” says Fritz Mulhauser, who spent two decades as an attorney with the ACLU’s D.C. affiliate. “The charters are rabidly politically active, and they fend off any political movement toward regulation that they think goes too far.” ….. Without meaningful regulation at the local level, the protection of children in D.C.’s charter schools, among the biggest charter networks in the country, is left entirely up to the federal government and the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. And with the department’s increasingly hands-off approach and longtime unwillingness to enforce its reporting requirements, the schools are almost entirely unregulated. “They’re just not doing the reporting that they’re supposed to be doing,” says Blaeuer. “It’s the Wild West.”