June 3, 2003 --
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act reauthorization bill, H.R. 1350, passed the U.S. House of Representatives April 30. The vote was 251 for and 171 against.
"Every disability advocacy group is on record as strongly opposing H.R. 1350," says Paul Marchand of The Arc. "The House-passed bill is the most partisan bill in IDEA's nearly 30-year history. The bill strips students with disabilities of certain due process rights and places new burdens and maze of options and limitations on parents who seek to pursue due process. The bill even removes the requirement in current law for school officials to consider the impact of a child's disability when certain school rules are violated. . . . Short-term objectives and benchmarks, key factors for securing parent approval and understanding of a student's Individualized Education Program (IEP), are essentially stricken from the law."
"In general, the House bill will do the opposite of what the bill's sponsors claim," Marchand insists. Read Marchand's "Action Alert," explaining the damage HR 1350 will do and offering a way to email senators.
"H.R. 1350 will not [even] accomplish the goals of its proponents," says the National Assn. of Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS). "Contrary to its stated intent, H.R. 1350 will not improve the quality of education for students with disabilities, will not improve the relationship between parents and schools, nor will it increase parent participation in helping to create the best educational plan for their children." Read NAPAS's analysis.
In the next few weeks, the Senate will take up the reauthorization. Staff of Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) are reportedly working to craft a bipartisan bill that is more palatable to inclusive education advocates.
The National Disabled Student Union (NDSU) is gearing up for a nationwide "Speak Out for Equal Education" on Friday, June 13th. An advocacy packet with suggestions that students (and others) can use for the June 13 actions is online at http://www.dimenet.com/hotnews/cgi/getlink.cgi?3207R
Parent and advocacy groups are organizing a rally at the Senate in Washington DC on June 17, 2003. Billed at "A National Rally to Preserve Civil Rights under IDEA for Students with Disabilities -- A Rally for Parents, Students, and Advocates," the rally -- and press conference -- is currently slated for 1:00 to 2:30 PM in Room G50 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. For more information on the DC rally and on local events, those interested are urged to contact Sue Hetrick (toll free) 866-885-5733 or email her at email@example.com (on the East Coast) or Julia Epstein 510-644-2555 firstname.lastname@example.org (on the West Coast).