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Reauthorization of IDEA


Congress has approved legislation that reauthorizes the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the main federal special education law. The reauthorized IDEA seeks to redress numerous complaints about the law: It mandates quality standards for special education teachers, streamlines disciplinary actions involving students with disabilities, and attempts to reduce the number of lawsuits stemming from the statute.


Why are private schools in NJ allowed to deny deaf and hard of hearing children the right to a sign language teacher or aide in the classroom even when signing is the child's main tool of communication?

I am mostly concerned aboutthe teachers having to be highly qualified in EVERY subject that they teach. The special education teacher by nature has always been a generalist, working to identify interventions that will help children learn in ANY subject.

There is already a shortage of special education teachers in the urban areas. This requirement/ deadline will put such a strain on our workforce that the students will end up not having a teacher at all...let alone a highly qualified one!!

The whole terminology and discriptors for HQT have already shown that they DO NOT necessarily define the BEST TEACHERS!!!!

"Accountability" - "Highly Qualified Teacher" - "Aims" (high school exit exams) - "soring drop out rate" To mention a few changes in education. I have two children who slipped out uneducated and two others who are slipping through. If we all know we have a huge problem in teaching, why are the teachers so defensive? I sadly have fought for ten years daily and know I have a fight ahead. Honesty in educaton leaders would be so rewarding. Character counts!!!

I concur with above statements and have an additioal concern. There is always a need for educators in specialized areas. Has IDEA taken into consideration the NCLB with students whose first language is not English and they have educational challenges as well? School systems need to provide the resources for educators to do their jobs. I spent a quarter of my personal salaray as a teacher buying equipment, kits and materials to teach children with special needs as well as English Language learners; and my district is NOT in a poverty striken area. I am an educator who is an advocate for children and their parents in fighting for what is rightfully due them in the educational process. Parents need to know the law. I have intervened many a time for parents explaining to them honestly the process and the law. Unfortunately, honesty in some is not existent and character is not important.

If I were to grade the recent "deauthorization" of IDEA, I would give it a "D-" and add in the comments section that the Congress "Needs Improvement". The Congress had a golden oppoortunity to improve school district accountability and they blew it. To eliminate short-term objectives and benchmarks after study after study concluded that they were essential, flies in the face of logic. To further exempt 15 states from paper work requirements is ludicrous. Making it easier to discipline disabled students under the student code of conduct is another problem. It has been my experience that the schools have never wanted to do the right thing regarding discipline of these students. Typically, school staff are not adequately trained to deal with behavior issues. A pervasive attitude has always been that public school is for the masses. The schools want students that are round pegs in round holes. If a child is a square peg, you have problems. Many of these children misbehave because their programming are not addressing their unique needs. The schools would rather be knee-jerk and punitive as opposed to providing positive behavioral alternatives as well as implementing the current IEP'S. Finally, placing another hurdle before parents by making it more difficult to bring a case to due process will further compromise the abilty of a child to obtain an appropriate education. This bill was designed by school district attorneys and school boards to water down their responsibilities. They all share the blame along with the Congres and should be ashamed of themselves instead of patting themselves on the back. I say that they need to kept after school and must go to Saturday detention!

The notion that if Special Ed teachers become highly qualified in the subjects they teach they will just become "regular" teachers reveals our hidden sense of inferiority with regard to the field. Somehow we have to trap educators into working with disabled students. What we need to realize is that there is indeed a continuing need for the things that Special Educators know and are educated in--specializing education to meet the needs of our various students. That does not make them competent in a content area--this is needed also. The challenge to keep our children from being left behind is not likely to be met by continuing to shelter our students and teachers in the room down the hall. Getting them up to speed and in contact with the general curriculum and the general population (the peers that they will be working and living with their whole lives) requires that our Special Education teachers function as the specialists they are--as the equals of content specialized teachers--to plan, implement and oversee accommodations, modifications, enhancements, assistive technology, behavior supports and all the things that they are well-prepared for.

To pretend that in addition they have the time to teach six subjects across several grade levels, as we do, is something we would never ask of any content qualified teacher.

Unless I am missing something, there doesn's seem to be a lot new with the new IDEA. For example, the discipline procedures under IDEA '04 are almost identitical to IDEA '97. Sure, there is a few new things like an resolution process prior to mediation/hearing but I don't see this saving any time or resources. The only hope for transformational change seems to be the outcome of the 15 state "pilot projects" to reduce paperwork.

I do not claim to have the knowledge to know how this is all going to work out, but it seems to me we just figured out how to comply to the '97 reauthorization. If the new IDEA requires teachers of special education students to become highly qualified in a subject matter, then in turn should general education teachers be required to become highly qualified in the area of meeting the needs of all students, including students with special needs.

I would like to see a reduction in paperwork. When a high school has 650 special education students pass through it's doors in one year, reconviening the IEP team for every change becomes a scheduling nightmare. The ability to meet with just the primary members to do revisions just makes sense.

Will these changes allow the teacher to teach and not be a case manager and paper producer, time will tell.

Now that everybody has had a chance to influence the congress in reauthorizing the IDEA Act. Nothing will change!

There will continue to be problems with teaching special education students. Discipline problems will continue, long winded and useless IEP meetings will be held, useless paperwork that consumes time will continue, disciplineless students will continue to harass other students and interfere with their right to an education, parents will continue to advocate that their kids have more rights than regular students, there still will not be enough funding, parents themselves are not held accountable, and it will be the job of the classroom teacher to make sense of this choatic mess which has been created by congress!

For some strange reason nobody ever realized that school is for educational progress, and not for falling behind. With the passage of the new watered down IDEA Act there will simply be more chaos to come...

As a school psychologist I am concerned that the basic idea underlying the identification of a child as learning disabled has been thrown out in the new IDEA legislation. If there is no longer a requirement that there be a severe discrepancy between cognitive ability and achievement how are we to predict that a child has the ability to learn better with a new approach that teaches in a way to take advantage of the child's strengths. I predict that there will be a great influx into special education of children with cognitive ability in the 70s, and no money to pay for the extra special education services expected.

A special education teacher is already proficient in all subjects that they have to teach. It is simply beyond the realm of comprehension to believe that each special ed teacher needs to be "highly qualified". And, does just taking a test make them highly qualified? NO. What about all the time we have to put in just managing classroom behavior, is that ever tested? What about taking care of the special ed kid who didn't have breakfast that morning or the night before. Is that tested? We are more highly qualified that anyone realizes.

What I love most about the reauthorization is that President Bush and the congress just cut special education funding. This is just the beginning for his second term.

I can't help but believe that if educators and the parents of students in America's public schools had their thinking caps on as they voted, Bush would not have been elected.

Hang on tight, the ride is liable to be horrific!

the response to the poor performance of school children in our country is to "up" the teaching standards/requirements.
Special Education means teaching children with disabilities using less rigorous or modified teaching processes.
Why should teachers be "specialized" in the subject matters they teach when special educaton instructors and assistants are "generalists" in form. It simply does not make sense.
We need to have experienced special education teachers and paraeducators present during discussions about what the needs are from a
direct perspective. Not ideologies from congressmen/women intent on interpreting the problems from an "outsider's" perspective.

I am very concern of how the law protects students for doing negative and unacceptable things in the school setting. When they graduate or when they are out of school the law does not recognize them of having disabilities. I feel like we are doing an injustices to them. We allow them to get away with things in one setting and not in the other. We are sending mix messages. I really feel that in most cases with students that have a LD can follow the rules that everyone else needs to follow.
I think that NCLB is getting us back to the roots of teaching. Our focal point is reading, writing, and math. I have seen improvements in the way we educate and how we view education.
The paperwork envolved in an IEP is very time consuming. I got into teaching for the students but it seems that for the most part I am a secretary. I get pulled away from the most important thing, the students. It is like you write a mini novel on the students.
We need to evaluate some things beside what the goverment wants.

In my school district, I am no more than a tutor. My students go into the regular classroom and come to me for one period for assistance with objectives covered within their regular classes. This works fine for students with higher levels of functioning. However, for students with lower level abilities and severe attention problems, this is a setup for failure. These students get into more trouble and "shut down" more often because the pace is too fast for them to understand what is going on. Most of these students are from economically challenged backgrounds and their parents cannot afford to hire advocates for the rights of these students. I feel that these students are not being served at all by our school district and are falling through the cracks by leaps and bounds simply because of someone's interpretation of IDEA's terminology of having "highly qualified" teachers. In my opinion, a "highly qualified" teacher is one who could take any subject (excluding higher level maths and sciences such as calculus and chemistry) and teach it in a manner that all students understand. If a teacher cannot grasp the material for the majority of state required courses, I would have to question that teacher's ability to teach. After teaching high school English for five years in another school district, I was told that the reason I could not teach English in my current school district was because I could not become "highly qualified" in any one area. However, because I tutor students in fourteen subject areas, does that not necessitate being "highly qualified" in fourteen areas? I do not seem to understand this concept.

My first comment centers on the idea of "highly qualified". When I taught in Public Education, it was I who had to "break" down subject matter (reading, writing, & math) to the level where my students were at. Regular ed teachers just didn't know how. I was trained at Pittsburg State Unviersity how to take any subject and work with the material to help students understand what was being taught. I often took tests and modified them individually for students. Some took test orally while others could write it down. This upset some regular ed teachers because my students made A's or B's. Yes they did on a modified curriculum were things were adapted to meet their needs. So while I am not licensed in KS in reading, writing, or math, I will say that my training made me qualified to adapt whatever for my students. Something regular ed teachers were not "qualified" to do.
Next is congress not having a clue about what goes on in the classroom. Reading a report is not the same as being on the "front lines". Paper work is a nightmare. I was trained to be an advocate for my students but had to be careful about protesting too much about discipling of a student with special needs. It is all of the mess that we special educators have to deal with that keeps people out of the field. The area of Special Ed seems to be lacking in teachers far worse then regular ed. How about congress or individual states doing something to keep who is there and recruite those in teacher ed programs into SpEd

I am so glad that President Bush signed this new bill. For too many years teachers that can not deal with the behavioral problems of black and hispanic students give up and place them in special ed. As a new teacher I was shocked to see such high placement. The message to teachers is clear: If you are afriad of these students black and hispanic then don't teach in the district. I hate to say this but many white teachers just teach in urban districts for the higher paychecks. They don't care about the children. It is a shame. Montclair, New Jersey is the biggest offender of placing black children in special ed. SHAME ON YOU.... GOOD FOR YOU BUSH..

What is missing from the new bill is accountability. Over the years I have seen the law change. Sometimes for the better but not this time. It use to be that children on IEP's were helped/educated to become productive members of society(individualized). Today, most educators are just trying to make their bench mark. Children are being labelled again or for the most part IEP's are being ignored. My own daughter's IEP on paper will help her succeed. Yet, if I don't keep questioning the school district, many parts are ignored especially during exams. I recently wrote to all involved and point blank told them that they should be grateful that they didn't have her problem or that no-one in their familly would ever have to deal with this problem. Of course no-one responded. I agree with a previous statement if your not a round peg fitting in a round hole then you are a problem. Unfortunately, some of these so called problems are highly intelligent/gifted students. Check the stats.

Here is the bottom line problem in our educational structure.
I am always puzzled why an Amendment is not being sought to the Constitution that would result in an increase of support form the Federal Government. The percentage our Federal Gov. gives in education is shameful.
People who become sepcial Ed. teachers do so because they themselves are "special". These people are truly the ones who give from their hearts every ounce of energy they have to help the children of our society who have disabilities develop their minds as much as possible. It takes a special type of personality and character trait to do this type of teaching.
While teaching truly is an art, teachers who dedicate their lives to the learning disabled add to this art a deep devotion from their heart.

Transition is a critical piece. Even though it is in the law, most do not do well at implementing this piece. Changing the age from 14 to 16 is sending a wrong message to those responsible for implementing the transition plan. Too much wiggle room. What is needed is have the age stay 14 and give the individual state's board of education the power to demand accountability from those responsible for implimentation.

Frivolous law suits, very scary, we now have our state drafting requests that would take a valid request for Due Process and make it look frivolous.

I concur with the advocate who stated this was the "deauthorization" of IDEA. The clause on litigation costs, although intended to limit "frivolous" lawsuits, will actually intimidate parents who might seek redress through litigation. From my experience with school districts, I have found that many school districts are not proactive, and when it comes to providing services and accommodations to students with disabilities, will not do so until litigation is looming. We are no closer to full funding and just as the NCLB that it is linked to calls for accountability without providing the resources. The highly qualified provision seems to be a one way street. Special educators are expected to become highly qualified in academic subject areas, yet regular educators are not expected to be come "highly qualified" when it comes to accommodating and modifying for students who have special needs. Finally, a word for some who have posted here (especially teachers): it would help our cause greatly if you used spell-check before you post your comment.

Although the "improved" IDEA did not address all of the concerns of educators, parents, advocates, and administrators, I must say I'm excited by the fact that special educators are being challenged to become certified in the areas they teach. Believe it or not, special educators are teaching all subject areas, including chemistry and physics (whether they know it or not). Historically, we know that students with disabilities did not get the best or most appropriate instruction, however, many felt it did not matter because they were exempt from the state and federal assessements. The issues of "Adequate Yearly Progress" and "Highly Qualified Teachers" have given a new meaning to educating students with disabilities (this is a good thing). My questions are to those of us who teach, supervise, and administrate, "What were we doing before? Why weren't we always concerned about the quality of education the students with disabilities was receiving?" After viewing the dismal achievement results of America's students with and without disabilities for more than 40 years, these higher standards for all teachers and greater expectations for all students will probably make the IDEA and NCLB worth the contention.

All of the ballyhoo about "legal protections" in both forms of the IDEA is laughable. In my state, Wisconsin, I can count on one hand the number of private attorneys willing to take special education cases. In addition, the Protection and Advocacy agencies in each state are simply overwhelmed by the remarkable numbers of requests for services in special education legal and papralegal advocacy. The whole idea that school systems have been inundated with numerous lawsuits is silly and to add to the law a provision related to "frivolous" lawsuits is an insult. Our children with disabilities have never really been protected by law and our schools have never been appropriately funded to serve them. The passage of the IDEA reauthorization is one more indication that only well funded special interest groups are heard in America and not the millions of families affected by mediocre special education services.

There is a better way to teach reading to children via a scrolling/prompter device. I put together software and monitor to do that. Two devices, one in each school to test my method.

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Recent Comments

  • Lewis Greene: There is a better way to teach reading to children read more
  • Cathy / Advocate: All of the ballyhoo about "legal protections" in both forms read more
  • A Special Educator, child advocate, parent, and administrator: Although the "improved" IDEA did not address all of the read more
  • Joseph Nolan - Asst. Prof of Sp. Ed.: I concur with the advocate who stated this was the read more
  • rams: Transition is a critical piece. Even though it is in read more




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