Groups to Converge on D.C. over IDEA
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A number of
national groups concerned about the education of children with
disabilities and the current efforts to reauthorize the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, will come together
on October 28, 2004 in Washington D.C. to lobby Congressional
members and ask them to reconsider proposed changes to the Act.
In a bulletin issued October 24th , AWAKE Advocacy described the
“The Day Has Come! We will be going to DC on the 28th of
October. We are asking All to Call the Conferees and staff on
Oct. 27th and 28th. We will be there to urge the Conferees on
IDEA to understand that passage of the proposed legislation will
be detrimental to the successful education of children with
disabilities. We can meet at the Metro; Union Station @
McDonald's Area, October 28 around 8:00 am. Due to security and
anxiety at the Capital, we have been advised that it is best not
to have an organized march. Naomi Grossman of Autism Hawaii Org
will be coming as well as Dawn Klein, Parent/Advocate from the
highly contested state of Ohio. Once there, we will ask that the
Conferees cease effort to push part B amendments through, as the
extent of changes are too substantial to be undone in the time
allotted in the current session of Congress. Parts A and B of
IDEA should be left intact without amendment until a thorough
review of available research is performed. "We are carrying the
message that IDEA amendments need to benefit students. After
all, IDEA is needed to ensure students with disabilities are
afforded opportunities and protections to enable them to
participate and receive a free and appropriate education in the
least restrictive environment.”
The coalition of supporting organizations includes: The League
of SPED Voters, TASH, NCIL, OCLB, VA TASH, DAC 4 VA, NCTFFCMH,
AWAKE_Advocacy as well as others.
The group is endorsing these “Guiding Principles” developed by
OCLB – Our Children Left Behind :
1. Promote school-wide and community-wide recognition and
awareness of disability issues. For too long, disability issues
and people with disabilities were hidden from public view. IDEA
amendments must keep disability rights and issues in the public
eye rather than hiding them again from public view.
2. Increase opportunities for students with disabilities to
receive educational services in fully inclusive settings.
Disability is a normal part of the human condition. Students
with disabilities may have skilled-based needs that require
unique approaches. IDEA amendments must ensure that students who
have unique learning needs – especially behavioral needs – have
those needs addressed in inclusive settings with supports rather
than creating reasons to provide services in segregated
3. Strengthen the principle that needs-based services required
by IDEA are provided to equalize educational opportunity for
students with disabilities. Too often, special education
services are described as add-ons or extras that take away from
general education resources. In fact, the opposite is true.
Special education provides the opportunity to equalize the
educational outcomes for students with disabilities.
4. Preserve or enhance for students and parents the
participatory and procedural rights in the IEP development
process that exist in IDEA '97. The President’s Commission on
Excellence in Special Education identified improving parent
participation as a core objective. IDEA amendments must respect
the parents’ desire to be central team participants by
increasing rather than reducing opportunities for parent
education and parent involvement in core decision-making
5. Preserve or enhance fundamental due process rights for
students and parents, as they exist in IDEA '97. The President’s
Commission on Excellence in Special Education, as noted in our
introduction, calls for retaining legal and procedural
safeguards. Due process remains the spring that keeps the
special education system ticking smoothly.
6. Promote IDEA educational opportunities for parents as part of
the amendment implementation process. The procedural and subject
matter knowledge bases rest in the heads and hands of the
educators. Parents must be offered the opportunity to
participate along side educators in learning about changes to
existing special education law.
7. Foster the development and strengthening of the
parent-professional partnership. Partnership embraces both
balance of power and respect issues. Any IDEA amendments must
seek to create partnership opportunities while respecting and
maintaining the rights of the parents and the educators.
Partnerships do not develop where the balance of power is tipped
too far one way or the other.
8. Preserve or enhance data collection and other accountability
measures that provide meaningful indicators of how particular
programs and strategies are working for individual students.
Accountability remains a core need for IDEA, especially now in
the world of No Child Left Behind. Accountability measures, like
educational programs, must be individualized to permit
evaluation of individual students and their outcomes while at
the same time emphasizing development of best practices. Data
collection and accountability are also vital in the behavioral