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Georgia Southern COE professor represents Georgia at national summit on special education

Karin Fisher, Ph.D., in Washington, D.C.
Karin Fisher, Ph.D., in Washington, D.C.

Karin Fisher, Ph.D., assistant professor at Georgia Southern University College of Education, was one of 10 college professors in the United States to be selected to participate in the Council for Exceptional Children’s (CEC) Special Education Legislative Summit held in Washington D.C., in July.

Participants were selected to represent regions from all over the country and received a $1,000 stipend to assist in registration and travel expenditures for the summit. 

Fisher was assigned to a team of individuals representing the state of Georgia and provided a higher education and teacher preparation perspective. Team members also included special education teachers, school administrators and nonprofit agency representatives. Topics encompassed the issues that impact youth with disabilities, their families and the professionals who work on their behalf.

“As an assistant professor of special education and a parent of a student with autism, I am dedicated to improving educational and developmental outcomes for children with disabilities and special gifts and talents,” said Fisher. “This summit made me feel like I am making a difference for everyone — teachers, professors, parents and most importantly, the lives of the students.”

One of the courses that Fisher teaches at Georgia Southern is Special Education Law and Procedures, a graduate-level course that provides knowledge about legislative requirements and procedures associated with children with special needs.

Fisher found that the summit helped to provide a deeper understanding of federal and state policies and processes. Specifically, Georgia’s shortage of more than 3,000 special education teachers was addressed.

One possible resolution discussed at the summit, Fisher said, is to invest more money in programs sponsored under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), federal legislation that ensures students with disabilities are provided with free and appropriate public education that is tailored to meet their needs.

“Investing more money in IDEA programs and special education research to provide the tools to be an effective professor and researcher would help improve outcomes for these children,” said Fisher. “I also think it is important to improve the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant and public service loan forgiveness programs. At Georgia Southern, as of May 2019, 50 students used the TEACH grant, and of those, 44 percent were in special education teacher preparation programs.”

The CEC’s Special Education Legislative Summit is hosted annually, providing educators with information about the legislative process and forthcoming policies that could affect students with disabilities. Participants are also given the opportunity to meet with state and regional legislators and/or members of their team.

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