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Last Updated: 11/20/2017
 

 Article of Interest - IDEA

An Open Letter To Congress

On March 19th President Bush began the war against Iraq. That same day, Congress declared war against 6 million United States students who receive special education services nationwide by introducing HB 1350, the bill to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA].

by Calvin and Tricia Luker, April 9, 2003

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On March 19th President Bush began the war against Iraq. That same day, Congress declared war against 6 million United States students who receive special education services nationwide by introducing HB 1350, the bill to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA]. Today, the Iraqi regime is near collapse. And today, after three short weeks, the House Education and the Workforce Committee stands ready to deal the death blow to IDEA, and to the educational and integration dreams of 6 million students. This stealth war against those students must be stopped.

You and your three Michigan Congressional committee colleagues represent 225,000 Michigan students who receive IDEA services in Michigan. They are supported by 400,000+ parents, by thousands of Michigan education professionals, and by their siblings and extended family. For Michigan children with disabilities and their families, there is no more important law than IDEA. The stealth campaign to ram the IDEA reauthorization through Congress while the country is preoccupied with Iraq is wrong. In this undercover rush to eliminate IDEA as we know it:

– Students with disabilities, their families and their advocates have been excluded from the drafting and legislative process. Members of Congress are being lied to when they are being told that students and families support this Bill. We don’t.

– Congress is denying itself the opportunity to learn the truth about IDEA, and the MILLIONS of success stories it has made possible for students and families.

HB 1350 is a dangerous bill. Rather than blending IDEA with No Child Left Behind, it:

– Gives schools full power and authority to leave ALL disabled children behind, giving little or no protection to those students.

– Destroys the accountability procedures that have been in place and have worked for 27 years.

– Promotes discrimination and unfair discipline by giving schools permission to suspend or expel students without recourse because they act disabled or in accordance with their disabilities.

– Puts America back into the mid-1900's, when parents were told to institutionalize their kids because the public didn’t want to have them around. HB 1350 for disability students is the functional equivalent of legislating away the protections granted to racial minority students by Brown v Board of Ed.

HB 1350 is bad news that would make bad law. Your committee might be tempted to convince itself that this bill is good for families. However, if you gave families half a chance to meet with and speak to you before jamming the bill through, you would discover the real truth about IDEA and how it has changed lives. Give yourselves that chance. Don’t kill IDEA under cover of war.

Calvin and Tricia Luker
2007 Guthrie Avenue, Royal Oak, MI 48067-3547
248-542-4128 / 248-544-7223
 

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