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What Has IDEA Meant to You?

As a part of the 35th anniversary commemoration of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the U.S. Department of Education is asking members of the public how they have been positively affected by the law, which guarantees a public education for 6.6 million students with disabilities.

Your comments, submitted by Nov. 8, may be used in a special event planned by the department. You can share art work, photography, poetry and written stories.

My first experience with IDEA was several years ago, when I was working at another newspaper, covering a school district in suburban Washington D.C. A parent called me up to say that she was unhappy with her son's education. When I met with her, she had files of paperwork that were inches thick, detailing her tussle with the school and local district. I begged off from writing an article, realizing that she needed assistance beyond what a reporter could provide.

Fast forward to 2004, and my interview for an open position at Education Week. Again, I tried to beg off the special education beat, saying that it was way too complicated for me. Obviously, the paper paid no attention to my protests, and during my time on this beat, I've had a chance to meet some remarkable people. I hope some of you choose to share your thoughts.

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