The Friday Fax

a weekly new bulletin from the National Parent Network on Disabilities
JANUARY 10, 1997 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Number 25

IDEA Introduced in the House

NPND has been informed by the House Committee on Economic & Educational Opportunities, that their IDEA bill (HR 5) was introduced on January 8. Regrettably, they were not silent on the issue of cessation - it is in the bill. Information on the bill is available on the committee’s website: Chairman Goodling and Representative Riggs have asked for input regarding the bill, as well as possible speakers for 2 hearings in February. Contact Chairman Goodling at US. House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515 with your opinions, or to find out about speaking in the hearings.

January 8, 1997

Dear CCD Co-Chairs:

We realize that you have received informal feedback from certain senior staff members of the Committee on Education and the Workforce (formerly the Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities), but we wanted to express officially our dismay at the tone and timing of your letter dated December 20, 1996. You write that the primary purpose of your involvement in the authorization of the federal special education law (IDEA) was to “keep the legislative process moving.” That appears very disingenuous on your part given the fact that you now disavow the compromise bill that passed the House on the Suspension calendar with finite debate and no opposition.

Our intent was, and is, to develop a bill that enjoys broad support politically within the Congress and from educators, parents and the disability community. We did not ask you to keep the process moving. We asked you to help get all interested parties into one room, and then, working with our staff, to come up with an acceptable proposal to modify and update the IDEA which would reflect a compromise between the professional education organizations and the groups you represent. We ultimately approved 85 percent of your recommendations. However, we emphatically stated when we finished the Committee markup that you not insist on getting the remaining 15 percent of your recommendations adopted in the Senate, as that would endanger the delicate compromise that had been agreed upon.

The tone of your letter indicates that you prefer current law. You reject the spirit of good faith compromise between all stakeholder groups involved with special education that is essential to moving this legislation. However, the status quo is unacceptable. We are committed to moving forward and subsequently have introduced the legislation (H.R. 5) exactly as it unanimously passed the House of Representatives last year. We will proceed, as planned, with the hearings at the Subcommittee and markup in the Full Committee on a timely basis and, once again, attempt to reach a consensus with all, and we repeat, all of the groups affected by our legislation.

Sincerely yours,
s: Bill Goodling
Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities

Frank Riggs
Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families

Not Dead Yet Rally a Success

Five to six-hundred people gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court Wednesday morning, January 8 to protest arguments being heard by the Court to decide the constitutionality of the right to doctor-assisted suicide. The group was extremely successful in attracting media attention in this important test of the Constitution regarding the rights of people. Speakers included former Surgeon General Koop and Nancy Ward, who represented People Empowered to Speak for Themselves. These, along with many other speakers eloquently stated the problem with doctor-assisted suicide. According to Not Dead Yet, “People with disabilities will be the victims of physician-assisted suicide. Studies show that doctors and others underestimate the quality of our lives. These same doctors will have to decide whether a suicidal patient will receive suicide prevention services or suicide assistance services. Too many will decide based on fear and ignorance. Experiences in the Netherlands have shown that even with safeguards, people are killed involuntarily. ”

CEC Parent Leaders Meet

Under the leadership of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), parent leaders met on Monday, January 6, 1997 to develop a campaign for the reauthorization of IDEA. the group decided on three basic premises on which to base the campaign: (1) Keep it Simple; (2) Involve citizens within the states to the maximum extent possible; and (3) All must put aside personal grievances and concentrate on the overriding issues that affect millions of children and families.