APRIL 10, 1998 ............................................................................................................................................ NUMBER 87
TOPICS IN THIS ISSUE INCLUDE:
CAMPAIGN '98 TO SAVE IDEA
Last year IDEA was reauthorized in a very fair and bipartisan process. Unfortunately, many US Senators have now been convinced that the new law should be changed even before it completely goes into effect! As soon as they get back from their spring break, the Senate will consider amendments to IDEA that will greatly weaken our childrens rights. Any amendments to IDEA at this time will be damaging. Though positive amendments are being considered, so are negative ones. Amendments are being considered to IDEA 97 when we have not yet even had an opportunity to implement it.
WE MUST STAND FIRM. Any amendments to IDEA will adversely affect our children and we are asking you to take action.
NPND Board members will also be offering their assistance.
CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES OF AMERICA ARE COUNTING ON YOU. DONT LET THEM DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
1998 CAREER FAIR...MAY 14
Fifty of Dallas major corporations will be coming together for the annual Career Fair for People with Disabilities, May 14th at Brookhaven College in Dallas. Roundtrip air fare and hotel accommodations will be provided for an unspecified number of job candidates based on their resumes. Please e-mail resumes to: . Resumes must be received by April 23rd to be eligible. For more information visit the Career Fair website at:. http://www.onarollradio.com
SENATE/HOUSE HEARINGS...IT'S TIME THEY HEAR FROM YOU
On March 31st, leaders from NPND and the CCD met with Senator Jim Jeffords (R-VT) to discuss our concerns about proposed Amendments to IDEA and the pressures generated over the IDEA proposed Regulations. At that time, Senator Jeffords stated that he and Chairman Goodling intended to hold hearings this summer regarding the Regulations. The question that NPND raised was how were hearings on regulation reviews in the summertime going to help with the crisis at hand! We are dealing with amendments to destroy IDEA.
We later learned that Congressional leaders changed their minds and scheduled the hearings for April 22, the same week as the debate and vote on the Coverdell bill (HR 2646). NPND is extremely concerned about these hearings. Our input to the Department of Education stated the regs did not go far enough. In fact, we presented 60 pages of comments representing the views of NPND.
We are well aware that some of the general education community have been spreading misinformation and fear tactics around the country. One concern is that the leaders on the Hill have heard volumes from groups whose sole intention it is to gut the law. Do not be confused. The forces who worked against our children for three years have not stopped. We, all the stakeholders, worked hard together to reauthorize the law. Since June 4, 1997the day the IDEA was signed into law-groups have campaigned to destroy all that we all worked so hard to accomplish.
On April 5th, NPND was invited to provide one witness for this hearing.
OUR VOICES NEED TO BE HEARD.
CONGRESS NEEDS TO HEAR FROM HUNDREDS OF PARENTS, FAMILY MEMBERS AND ADVOCATES.
CONFERENCE CALL SERIES ON CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE
Families USA is offering a new series of telephone conference calls about the expansion of Childrens Health Insurance Coverage. [To participate in any of the calls, DIAL 1-800-360-0001, and ask for the Childrens Health Campaign Call]. You can hear a replay of any of the calls by calling (617) 528-0420 with the code number (see below). This is a toll call. Below are dates for the remainder of the conference calls in this series:
· Friday, April 17, 3PM ET. AFFORDABILITY: PREMIUMS & COST-SHARING, code #143316. RSVP to Rachel Klein at , phone (202) 628-3030, fax: (202) 347-2417.
· Friday, May 1, 3PM ET. DESIGNING DATA COLLECTION: WHAT YOUR STATE NEEDS TO DO NOW, code #143317. RSVP to Kathy White at , fax: (703) 684-1589.
· Friday, May 15, 3PM ET. MEETING THE NEEDS OF VULNERABLE POPULATIONS: IMMIGRANT, MIGRANT, HOMELESS, AND INDIAN CHILDREN, code #143318. RSVP to Jill Jones at , phone: (202) 662-3575, fax: (202) 662-3560. Visit the NPND website for more details for these and previous calls.
Congrats! The NPND WEBSITE is 2 years old as of April 9TH
STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN JAMES M. JEFFORDS (R-VT) ON IDEA REGULATIONS AND UPCOMING HOUSE/SENATE HEARING
This information is taken from a press release from Senator Jeffords dated April 2, 1998.
Less than a year ago, congress passed and the President signed into law P.L. 105-17, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997. It took much of the last Congress and four solid months of work in this Congress to produce a strengthened law that would give parents and educators the tools they needed to help children with disabilities receive a quality education. Day after day, the Administration, House and Senate Democrats and Republicans sat at the table in an unprecedented effort to achieve consensus on legislation.
The consensus we achieved then threatens to unravel. The President has shown no interest in funding IDEA, and communication among key stakeholders has broken down. Instead of focusing on how to create partnerships to implement the new law at the local level, many are focusing on language they do not like in the proposed regulations for IDEA. Instead of looking for common ground, some are promoting fear and division. That is not good for kids with disabilities. We have to get things back on track.
The President needs to join Republicans in supporting full funding for IDEA. If we put more money in IDEA, school districts will be able to shift some of their special education funds to other local priorities. The combination of more funding for IDEA and flexible regulations, that everyone can understand, will do a great deal to reduce the tension that parents and educators of children with disabilities are now experiencing.
Thus, my good friend and colleague, Chairman Bill Goodling of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and I are holding a hearing to allow the stakeholders to tell us their opinions on the proposed IDEA regulations. If we can sort out together how the regulations should and must work when in final form, we can fulfill the promise of last years law.
I hope everyone with an interest in children with disabilities and their future, will help us find, once again, the common ground on which we stood last June.
STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN BILL GOODLING (R-PA) ON IDEA REGULATIONS AND UPCOMING HOUSE/SENATE HEARING
This information is taken from a press release from Senator Goodling dated April 2, 1998.
Last year, Congress worked in a bipartisan and bicameral fashion to reform the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act so that children with disabilities can have more education options and services. The Administration was at the table too, working with us to craft and negotiate this legislation. The result was a good law that everyone supported. We pledged to take this spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship forward into the process of writing the regulations to IDEA. Unfortunately, that hasnt happened.
We have become very concerned over the Administrations actions regarding IDEA. First, we learn that the President is cutting funds for IDEA in his new budget and then we learn that the U.S. Department of Education has gone well beyond the law by over regulating. Mr. President, we pledged to work for children with special needs, not against them.
Last year, the Department pledged to stick as close as possible to the statute and not impose more burdensome regulations on local schools. The U.S. Department of Education has exceeded the spirit and the letter of the law by over regulating on IDEA. For example, last years compromise on the issue of student discipline clearly lays out how schools can discipline students with disabilities and the procedure that must be followed to protect a students rights. However, the Administration has chosen to deviate from the statute in its proposed regulations, thus reopening this contentious debate.
Thats not all. The proposed regulations define a general curriculum for students, which we think sets a dangerous precedent for the federal government to begin to dictate curricula. In addition, the IDEA reform greatly increased the role of regular education teachers in the education plans for children with disabilities. However, Congress didnt envision, as the Departments proposed regulations would suggest, that regular education teachers be pulled out of their classrooms for every meeting that occurs regarding a students education plan. The Department needs to provide flexibility that allows teachers to meet their responsibility in the planning of the childs education, while maximizing their time in the classroom.
We have no plans to open up IDEA and change it this year, but at the same time, we dont want to see the Administration ruin a good law. Congressional Republicans will fight this year for more IDEA funding, and we will fight to make sure that the Administration doesnt over regulate.
I look forward to chairing a hearing on these issues with Senate Labor and Human Resources Chairman Jim Jeffords (R-VT) on April 22. At that time we hope the Administration will work with us as they did when crafting the statute. Only then can we be certain that the new regulations are consistent with the new law.