MARCH 20, 1998 ......................................................................................................................NUMBER 84
IDEA UNDER ATTACK
Rights of Students with Disabilities in Severe Jeopardy!
Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, has been under heavy attack by groups that want to reopen the debates resolved by the passage of IDEA last year. These groups want to weaken the protections for our children contained in that law. They have bombarded the Secretary and Congress with their complaints long after the regulatory comment period ended, demanding weakening changes.
Can we afford to allow this to happen? Students with disabilities need our help NOW. Contact Secretary Riley and urge him to hold strong to the protections embodied in the IDEA 97 Reauthorization and existing policy letters. Dont let special interest groups undermine the new IDEA.
The time is now. ONLY YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
Contact Secretary Riley and your Senators and Representatives. Let them know that they cannot back away from their commitment to our children.
The Honorable Richard Riley
U.S. Department of Education
Washington, D.C. 20202
KEEP IDEA STRONG
Background. On June 4, 1997, the reauthorized IDEA was signed into law by President Clinton. This law was developed through an unprecedented, bicameral, bipartisan effort. It was carefully crafted to respond to the sometimes conflicting concerns of parents and professionals. The Department of Education published proposed regulations on October 22, 1997. The regulations followed the intent of Congress by incorporating language directly from the statute. The regulations also followed the instructions of Congress by incorporating existing Policy Letters into the proposed regulations, to subject them to public review and comment. The comments to the Notice of Proposed Rule-Making were due January 20, 1998. The Department of Education received over 2,000 comments. NPND submitted over 50 pages of comments produced by 60+ members of our organization. All of the other stakeholders had the same opportunity to submit their comments within the regulatory timeframe.
Apparently influenced by heavy pressure from some general education groups, key Republican leaders of the House and Senate submitted a joint letter to Secretary Riley. These Congressional leaders did not seek input from parents or other disability leaders. (In some cases, their recommendations recommend removal of language that is actually in the legislation and supported by the Congressional intent!). (Text of NPNDs response to the NPRM, the Congressional letter, and an analysis of the Congressional letter are on the NPND website.) NPND has now learned that leaders of some general education groups have been deluging Congressional leaders and the Secretary of Education with the complaint that the regs have gone too far! Rumor has it that the Secretary has received over 3,000 of these letters. This kind of pressure is a behind-the-scenes, back-door subversion of the regulatory process.
GORTON ON THE ATTACK AGAIN
On Wednesday, March 18, Senator Gorton (WA) - a fierce opponent of the rights of children with disabilities - presented his photo opportunity about the new IDEA. He had a roll of paper 40 feet long as an example of the paperwork that will supposedly now be required of teachers. He spouted hyperbole about knives and guns and students with disabilities threatening other students with an electric saw in shop class. His threats to IDEA, and the threats of the general educators special interest groups, are real and we must respond NOW.
Full text of Gorton's speech.
WHAT ACTION NEEDS TO BE TAKEN NOW!
WHAT IS THE MESSAGE!!!
Check the NPND website for Congressional contacts. To call members of the House and Senate call (202) 224-3121.
Stay tuned for more!