IDEA Update from the Arc US:
Steve Eidelman and Paul Marchand
April 30, 2003
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After 5 hours of debate today, the House passed H.R. 1350 the
Reauthorization of IDEA, by a vote of 251 to 171.
Find out who
voted and how:
There were several Republicans who opposed the bill and about 35
Democrats who voted for the bill. The bill was passed over the
strong objections of all special education advocacy
organization, including UCP and The Arc. During the debate, the
Ranking Minority Member of the Subcommittee on Education Reform,
Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) showed a large pile of letters from parents
and advocates who oppose the bill. Over 90 percent of those
letters (over 1,000) were generated by The Arc's and UCP's
action center. Yesterday, 39 national disability advocacy groups
distributed letters in opposition of H.R. 1350 in the House.
During floor consideration, 14 amendments were voted on.
None significantly altered, either positively or negatively, the
bill. Among the amendments adopted were:
- a GAO report on paperwork burdens;
- an increase of the state education agency administration set
aside from $500,000 to $750,000;
- a revised definition of a free appropriate public education (FAPE)
to conform with the Rowley Supreme Court decision;
- all IDEA state grant increases above the FY 2003 level will be
passed on to the local school systems;
- parents and the Individual Family Service Program (IFSP) team
can decide on the setting for services for Infants and Toddlers
[natural environments can include center-based programs].
Three amendments were defeated. They were:
- creating parental choice models from Part D and allowing Part
B federal funds to follow the student to a private school;
- an amendment allowing local school systems an option to
provide to parents a certificate equivalent to the per pupil
IDEA funds (currently $1,400.00) to pay for private school
- an amendment limiting specific learning disabilities to
medically detectable and diagnosable conditions using physical
and scientific evidence.
This bill represents the worst public policy under IDEA since
before the enactment of Public Law 94-142 in 1975.
Attention will now shift to the US Senate, where a bipartisan
bill is still under development by the leadership of the Health,
Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. A bipartisan bill may
be introduced as early as a couple of weeks from now.