Keep Your Eye On The Kid
Special Ed pioneer focuses on the needs of the child
Dr. Blumenfeld, retired adjunct professor in Special Education at UNM and a more than 20-year veteran of Albuquerque Public Schools, says that special education students need a teacher with “a good heart,” someone with compassion as well as a sense of humor and good training in language and literacy skills.
“If we are a community, then we have to care for the entire community. We are responsible for these children and their families to help them become all that they can be.”
– Dr. Jane Blumenfeld
In 2006, Dr. Blumenfeld established the Blumenfeld Endowment for Cultural & Linguistic Diversity in Special Education Diagnosis and Assessment to support the Diagnostician Preparation Program at UNM. This program meets a critical need in New Mexico, which has a shortage of diagnosticians, especially ones trained to work with children whose first language is not English or whose cultural background may make standardized tests inaccurate.
While working on her doctoral research years earlier at UNM, Blumenfeld discovered that “far too many minority children were being misdiagnosed as having Intellectual Disability (ID) when they were actually having problems understanding English.” She explains that, “In one case, I looked at thirty Hispanic children who were classified as having ID. With the help of a bilingual speech therapist, we discovered that only one actually did.”
That New Mexico has special education in the public school at all is largely due to the efforts of Dr. Blumenfeld. “Jane Blumenfeld was one of the first educators to bring the untapped learning potential of children with disabilities to the attention of New Mexico’s families and schools,” says Ruth Luckasson, chair of UNM’s Educational Specialties Department.
In time, Blumenfeld became an Area Coordinator of Special Education for Albuquerque Public Schools. She also served as the executive director of The Arc of Albuquerque.
To honor Dr. Blumenfeld’s contributions to special education, the UNM Department of Educational Specialties inaugurated the first Dr. Jane Blumenfeld Lecture in December 2012. This lecture series, which is also supported by the Blumenfeld Endowment, has included noted speakers such as Rud and Ann Turnbull, Distinguished Professors in Special Education and Co-founders/Co-Directors of the prestigious Beach Center of Disability at the University of Kansas; and Elizabeth Kay Raining Bird, a Professor in the School of Human Communication Disorders at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
For information about contributing to the Blumenfeld Endowment, contact Mary Wolford, Senior Director of Development, at 505-277-1088.