Whose IDEA Is It Anyway?TO JOIN THE RRN: Send an email to preserveIDEA@dredf.org and we'll add you to our distribution list.
Please forward this briefing to others who want to work to protect IDEA.
The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday, April 30, to approve H.R. 1350, "Improving Education Results for Children with Disabilities Act" with a variety of amendments (see below for amendment details). The vote was 251-171. The vote was largely partisan, with 34 Democrats voting for the bill and 7 Republicans and 1 Independent opposed. Twelve members did not vote. To find out how your Representative voted and see the final breakdowns, go to:
As we stated in earlier RRNs, this bill weakens IDEA in sweeping ways and harms children with disabilities.
DREDF thanks the almost 1,000 of you who told us that you wrote, faxed, and called members of the House on April 29. Overall, over 14,000 voters registered their concerns in opposition to this bill. Your voices are critical to this process, and we appreciate your help and commitment to children. Even though we lost the final vote, the fact that large numbers of parents weighed in makes it clear that legislators need to remain true to the needs of their constituents. It would not be amiss now to write to thank the Representatives who voted against H.R. 1350, and to write to those who supported it to register your disappointment and to note that you will not forget this vote in the next election.
AMENDMENTS TO H.R. 1350:
* Castle/Boehner Manager's Amendment: Increases the amount of funds that the State can reserve out of its State-level activities for programs designed to serve children with disabilities with high-cost special education and related services needs. Makes a clarifying change to reflect the updated authorization levels that were modified by the FY 2004 Budget Resolution - this level reflects the increased funding the FY 2004 Budget Resolution included for IDEA Part B State Grants. Makes a clarifying change to ensure that evaluations are provided to children in the language and form designed to obtain useful information. Makes a change to the issues that can be raised at due process hearings. Adds language to the section prohibiting the Federal control of curriculum to ensure it is the exact language as present in the No Child Left Behind Act, which ensures that there continues to be local control over the curriculum. Makes changes in the Part D programs to ensure that the needs of limited English proficient children with disabilities are met through the training of school personnel and effective data collection. Modifies the section regarding support for captioning programs to enable news programs to be captioned until 2006, which is when Federal Communications Commission requirements require all news programs to be captioned.
* Vitter Amendment: Adds a provision in Part A mandating that the GAO Review will include recommendations to reduce or eliminate the "excessive paperwork" burdens for teachers, related services providers, parents and school administrators. Amends Part B to require a GAO report be submitted two years after the date of enactment and submitted every two years thereafter.
* Bradley Amendment: Strikes the current Part B set-aside funds of $500,000 and replace it with $750,000. Strikes the parenthetical provision that references the inflationary adjustment, in order to provide more opportunity for administrative growth in small states.
* Woolsey Amendment: Inserts the definition of a free, appropriate, public education, the language contained in the Supreme Court Decision known as Rowley, which states that the goal for a child with disabilities is the same as for all other children - to have the educational and related services necessary for that child to access the general curriculum.
* Shadegg Amendment: Expressing the sense of Congress and finds that students are over-identified and misidentified as students with disabilities. Therefore students should not be classified as being disabled without having been judged by a physician and state health board. THIS ONE IS WORRISOME AND WE WILL BE WATCHING WHAT HAPPENS IN THE SENATE AND IN CONFERENCE.
* Kirk Amendment: Expresses the sense of Congress that providing special needs students with a safe, and drug-free learning environment is a laudable goal. Makes reference to random locker searches conducted by school administrators as an effective way to assess the gravity of the drug situation at a particular school, as well as to indicate to students that the use of drugs on school property will not be tolerated.
* McKeon/Woolsey Amendment: Requires that any additional increases in federal funding, above Fiscal Year 2003 levels be passed down directly to the local level.
* Nethercutt Amendment: Provides parents in consultation with the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) team the ability to decide what setting is appropriate for each child.
* Sanchez Amendment: Would authorize the use of funds to develop and improve programs to train school safety personnel and first responders who work at educational facilities in the recognition of autism.
* Wu Amendment: Amends the State Competitive Grant Program in the bill to give priority to applications that provide for the establishment of professional development programs regarding methods of early and appropriate identification of children with disabilities.
* Garrett Amendment: Requires the Secretary of Education to conduct a study within two years after the enactment of the act on the cost to each state for compliance with this act.
* 5. DeMint Amendment: Would have amended Part D (National Activities) to allow for the Secretary of Education to fund the design, development, and initial implementation of parental choice programs for students with disabilities. Would have amended Part B (Assistance for Students Ages 3-21) to allow states to let federal money follow the child along with the state money to the selected public or private school.
* 6. Musgrave Amendment: Would have allowed school districts the option of offering parents of disabled children in private schools a certificate to be used for their child's specific special education needs. The amount of the certificate would have been equivalent to the per-pupil proportionate IDEA dollars generated to the school district by private school children. Certificates would have been redeemed at eligible providers that met health, safety, and civil rights laws and were fiscally sound.
* Tancredo/Graves Amendment: Would have redefined "specific learning disability" as a disorder due to a medically detectable and diagnosable psychological condition relying on physical and scientific evidence.
Note: A coalition of mental health and disability organizations blitzed members of the House with opposition to the Shadegg and Tancredo/Graves amendments and succeeded in beating back the latter on the morning of April 30.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? The Senate bill is pending, and we expect it to be dropped before Memorial Day. We will use the RRN briefings to keep subscribers posted on the language and issues in the Senate bill. After the Senate bill passes, the House and Senate bills go to conference, out of which one statute will emerge. It's not possible to predict a precise timetable, but things are moving quickly.
Note: No amendments were offered to rectify any of the key problem areas in H.R. 1350 other than full funding. As this process moves to the Senate, the RRN urges parents to contact their Senators to request that the Senate bill return provisions to protect the civil rights of children with disabilities by writing that a bill that supports manifestation determinations, functional behavioral assessments, and behavior intervention plans, maintains annual IEPs and short-term objectives, and restores due process protections to children and families.
Expect another nationwide, collaborative call-in day in conjunction to make our views known to the Senate. Even though the House vote was a bust, we all need to stay on board and bring our friends!
WHAT CAN WE DO? We continue to do what we have been doing: staying informed, communicating our views to lawmakers, educating the people we meet and speak with, and writing, calling, and faxing when we have specific cause for action. The RRN will use our Action Alert system with the Senate bill as we used it for the House.
In the meantime, thank Representatives who voted against H.R. 1350, register your concerns with those who supported it, and let them all know we're keeping track of their votes and their statements on education for children with disabilities.
AND WEAR YOUR IDEA T-SHIRTS - WHOSE IDEA IS IT ANYWAY?
PRICE REDUCED - THE IDEA T-SHIRT: Wear a bright red IDEA and advertise your support of special education and civil rights for students with disabilities!
Design: is a red light-bulb face with electric hair that spells out Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the slogan is, "Whose IDEA Is It, Anyway?" White, with red DREDF logo on left sleeve and purple SEIU logo on right sleeve.
Specifications: heavyweight 100% cotton, U.S. made and union printed, available in Youth Large and Adult Large and Extra Large sizes.
Shirts are $12, plus $2.50 postage and handling. Buy 3 or more for $10 each. We don't have the capability to process online orders, but you can print out the order form from our website: http://www.dredf.org/ and send checks to DREDF, 2212 Sixth St., Berkeley, CA 94710. The order form has an illustration of the shirt to check out also. Remember to specify quantity and size.
We are also offering these shirts as a special thank you to individuals who donate $100 or more for our work.