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Article of Interest - IDEA

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Bridges4Kids LogoCommentary: Proposed IDEA Legislation Does Too Little to Benefit Students with Disabilities

August 28, 2003, Our Children Left Behind

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In a recent BraveNet poll, hosted by www.psidea.org, an overwhelming majority of the respondents indicated that the proposed Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) legislation will do little to benefit students with disabilities. And, in some cases, the poll results demonstrate that the proposed legislation could actually be detrimental to the present status of students.

Parent volunteers across the country identified the need for a poll to validate their feelings to policymakers, since many fear for their children's futures with the upcoming IDEA reauthorization. With the introduction of No Child Left Behind, and the proposed watering down of IDEA through H.R. 1350 (especially) and S. 1248 (which is better than H.R. 1350), students are at risk of a system that promises less, rather than more, access to learning in school. Thus, students with disabilities would not only be left behind, they would be left out of some or all educational opportunities.

Holding schools accountable for sound practices and processes, demonstrating student progress, and prudent spending of special education dollars are high priority topics to students, families, and advocates. The poll results clearly demonstrate this.

P.S. IDEA volunteers drafted nine questions for the poll, concentrating on major areas of controversy between educators and parents in this round of the IDEA reauthorization process. These areas are most commonly referred to as:

*Dual Discipline

*Attorney Fee Caps

*Full Funding

*Mandatory Pre-Due Process Meetings

*Short Term Objectives (Benchmarks)

*State Assurances vs. Demonstrating Compliance to OSEP

*Risk Pool Funds

*15% Diversion of Funds for Pre-Referral

*Use of Dispute Resolution Reports

In less than one month, in a preliminary assembly of results, it was found that each of the poll questions collected between 400-1200 responses. This is significant right now, since some school administrative groups are supporting items in the reauthorization proposals that clearly are not in the best interest of students. Many families and advocates feel that the administrators' organizations are using lobbying dollars to make adult jobs easier, not learning opportunities for students better.

An important finding, but not surprising to many parents and advocates, is that most respondents indicated that attitudes toward students with disabilities were bigger barriers to the implementation of IDEA than full funding.

The PS IDEA Reauthorization Poll will receive responses through August 31, 2003 at http://members.aol.com/PSIDEA/polls.htm.  Questions rotate with each visit to the Web site.  For more information on the IDEA Reauthorization, visit www.ourchildrenleftbehind.com.  

   

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