Today, May 2nd, the working group held what is expected to be the last input meeting prior to the mark-up of the IDEA Reauthorization which is scheduled for next Wednesday in both the House and Senate. The group received praise from parents, advocates, and educators for their efforts in developing a comprehensive bill that reflected the concerns and opinions of the diverse audience who provided input. It is important to point out, however, that there were many parents and educators who expressed grave concerns about the proposal.
At the meeting representatives from LDA, the Arc, and Easter Seals expressed support for the draft proposal. The Down Syndrome Congress opposed the legislation. Marcy Roth, representing TASH, stated, “ This bill doesn’t get us there yet. We need more change.”
Heather Hebdon, speaking on behalf of the NPND legislative sub-committee, provided the working group with an analysis of the proposal. Stating that, “This proposal reflects the difficult struggles that you have faced in honoring the input from a variety of differing and diverse opinions. Participants had ideas and issues they felt have to be reflected in the Reauthorization to ensure that services would not only help students attain skills needed to take them into the 21st Century, but that those services would also be fair and equitable.... This proposal does show a strong balance among these diverse opinions. (A copy of the analysis provided to the group can be found on NPND’s website.)
This is not over yet. The proposed bill still needs to go through both the House and Senate. We still need to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities are protected, and that the legislation that comes out of this will strengthen the protections of students. It is up to us. Read the bill, study what it says, be involved in the upcoming conference call on Tuesday, and decide for yourself what you feel is right. The committee worked hard, but now it is up to us to also work hard and keep up the good work.
If you are interested in participating in Stand For Children Day 1997, contact the Stand For Children national office at 1-800-663-4032 or visit our web site at www.stand.org. They will send you information about Stand For Children Day and tell you about activities that are already being planned in your community. You can also ask for an Organizer's Kit so you can plan an event.
Join the growing national movement to Leave No Child Behind!
On Tuesday, April 29th, we experienced the loss of a beautiful life. To her friends and family—those who knew her well—Diana was an angel in disguise. Within the disability community, Diana was our Saint. Through her belief, passion and dedication, she strove to make a difference in the lives of individuals with special needs.
Diana passed away on Tuesday evening at her home in Connecticut. Diana was surrounded by her family, a warm breeze was wafting through the windows, the sun was shining, boats were sailing by on the river, and beautiful guitar music was playing. She was calm and peaceful.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to:
Center for Hope
190 Post Road
Darien, CT 06820
30 Stevens Street
Norwalk, CT 06850
NJ Coalition for Inclusive Education
P.O. Box 8226
Turnersville, NJ 08012
Expression of condolence may be sent to:
Hank and David Cuthbertson
8 Seaside Place
East Norwalk, CT 06855
Betty Keeshon (Diana's mother)
54 Freeboard Lane
Yarmouthport, MA 02675
Funeral services will be held at 3:00 P.M. on Sunday, May 4th at the Christ Episcopal Church, Gregory Boulevard at Emerson Street, East Norwalk, CT.
Diana Cuthbertson was on the Board of Directors of NPND and served with distinction as President of the Board from 1993-1995. In addition, Diana served as the Co-Director of the All Children Belong program. The Members of the Board and the staff of NPND extend their heartfelt condolences to the Cuthbertson's and Mrs. Keeshon.
Our hearts are acutely saddened by this precious loss, but our lives are forever enriched because of her precious life. Diana, your memory and your message lives on within us and through us!
During the open mike comments at the Working Group meeting today, several parents expressed the opinion that the Congressional staff had not “really listened” and that our ideas had not been incorporated into the draft legislation. We disagree!!! A perfect example of the staff’s attention to the comments from parents and PTI directors is how the mediation section of the draft is written. This came directly from PTIs.
They also listened by removing cessation from the bill. They listened by strengthening the role of parents in the draft. They listened by removing the term “seriously emotionally disturbed.” They listened by removing the term “disruptive.” They listened by requiring that the state advisory committee have a membership that is 51% parents or individuals with disabilities.
We recognize that there are still some legitimate concerns with this draft bill especially the section on discipline which, in our opinion, puts IDEA, The Jeffords Amendment, and the Honig Amendment in one place. HOWEVER, these concerns MUST come from thoughtful consideration of the actual language instead of complaints about “listening” or wild accusations and fear tactics.
This draft is not a “done deal.” Some changes might happen before “mark-up.” It still has to pass out of both committees and be voted on by both houses of Congress. Regulations must also be written...with active involvement by us! It is up to us to become educated about the issues and based on that knowledge make our opinions known.