MAY 15, 1998 ...................................................................................................................................NUMBER 92
TOPICS IN THIS ISSUE INCLUDE:
FIRST THINGS FIRST
On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives, Committee on Education and the Workforce, held a hearing on the Federal Government's commitment to fund special education.
Congressional witnesses were Rep. Bass (R-NH) and Rep. McCarthy (D-NY) who opened the hearing with statements regarding full Federal funding for IDEA. Rep. Bass introduced House Resolution 399. This resolution would fully fund IDEA at the original funding level of 40% of the excess cost of educating a student with disabilities Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle, with minimal political bickering, echoed the theme of "First Things First" and increase the funding for IDEA. Educators from North Carolina and Pennsylvania testified that more funding would help local districts.
Chairman Goodling's Opening Statement
Below are excerpts from Chairman Goodling's opening statement.
"One year ago today, the House of Representatives passed the IDEA Amendments of 1997 by a vote of 420-3...A year ago today, we pledged to work for children with special needs, not against them...I believe that if we provide adequate Federal funding for special education we can ensure that children with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education and we can ensure that all children have the best education possible...Let's adequately fund IDEA."
The Parent's Voice
Representing parents were Stephanie Lee of the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), along with her daughter, Laura, as well as Colleen Tomko of Bucks County, PA, along with her son, Shaun. Shaun briefly addressed the committee through his voice synthesizer. The parents, along with their children, did an excellent job of representing families of individuals with special needs.
Below are excerpts from their testimony:
Stephanie Lee. "I am [also] here as a mother who has actively volunteered for fifteen years at the local, state and national level on special education issues. My daughter Laura, who has benefited from special education, is here with me today...As a mother, I can tell you that it is painful to hear students with disabilities portrayed as expensive burdens at school board or PTA meetings and described as taking funding away from other children. It is time to recapture the collaborative spirit of the IDEA '97 Working Group and for all of us to work together in a bipartisan, positive manner to fund and implement IDEA."
Full text of Stephanie Lee's Testimony
Colleen Tomko. "When Shaun was born, we were first told that he probably would not live...Services were not handed to Shaun or our family, even though we actively sought them out...We feel that we are constantly battling the systems to give Shaun accessibility and to meet his needs. It is the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. We have achieved only a portion of what is actually needed...Increased funds will reduce the adversarial relationships between parents and schools. It will help ensure that children's needs are not determined by a calculator or how hard their parents fight..."
Full text of Colleen Tomko's Testimony
TOYS "R" US TOY GUIDE
The National Parent Network on Disabilities (NPND), the National Lekotek Center and Toys "R" Us, in an ongoing effort to make shopping for appropriate toys for your children enjoyable, are going to continue their partnership in the production and distribution of a sixth Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids. We would once again like to share this opportunity with you. The Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids continues to receive national acclaim and acceptance. It has had a tremendous impact on the way that "Madison Avenue" views individuals with disabilities.
Toys "R" Us is making available an even wider selection of toys, coded with ability symbols for easy identification. For those of you who received earlier Toy Guides, we believe this issue will be of greater value because ideas, improvements and expansion of toy selection continue to be made in direct response to the consumers for differently-abled children. Once again, the National Lekotek Center has evaluated the toys with children with disabilities in testing centers in the belief that ALL children should have the opportunity to select toys that will be fun, meet their needs and be useful for developmental growth.
A very important component of this new Toy Guide, as well as previous issues, is that it was created in part by parent suggestions from around the country. Look for a new resource section. The Toy Guide will include a direct Toys "R" Us "800" number for questions and comments.
There is no limit to how many Toy Guides you and/or your organization may receive and the guide is available at no cost. On page 2 is a form for you to indicate your desire to receive this Toy Guide. (If you requested the 5th edition of the Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids last year, you should have already received a letter and request form in the mail.) Reimbursement for any project cost incurred, inclusive of label production, mailing costs, handling and staff time, etc. will be made upon receipt of the reimbursement form (please request a reimbursement form, if needed, when placing your order).
PLEASE INDICATE THE METHOD YOU PREFER FOR MAILING. TOY GUIDES WILL BE MAILED DIRECTLY FROM TOYS "R" US IN LATE AUGUST 1998. FOR THE OFFICES WHICH PREFER TO SEND NPND THEIR LABELS, (NPND guarantees the confidentiality of all labels.) THE TOY GUIDES WILL BE SHIPPED FROM THE VIRGINIA MAIL SHOP IN LATE SEPTEMBER 1998.
Laura Farah is the coordinator for this project, and can be reached in the NPND office by phone (202) 434-8686, by fax (617) 847-1593, or by E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Please copy this form if you desire to distribute it to other people and groups that you think would benefit from the Toy Guide.
Toys "R" Us has been very supportive of the efforts of NPND. We are continuing with this endeavor because we want to provide every possible opportunity for parent leaders and organizations nationwide to serve all families and children with the most current information and supportive services available.
PLEASE FILL OUT THIS FORM AND RETURN IT NO LATER THAN MAY 29, 1998 BY:
FAX: (617) 847-1593
OPTION 1 (check here for this option: )
We will send the NPND office a complete set of our labels for you to affix to the Toys "R" Us Guides and mail directly to our members.
We estimate that we will be sending ____________ labels (enter number of labels).
We understand that reimbursement for any project cost incurred, inclusive of label production and mailing costs to NPND, will be made upon receipt of reimbursement forms and receipts received. These "peel and stick pressure sensitive" labels, in zip code order, will be due to NPND by August 1, 1998.
We want Toys "R" Us Guides sent directly to our office/home.
Please send __________ Toy Guides to our office/home (enter total number of Guides needed).
We understand that step-by-step instructions will be sent to our office upon request. It will include directions for mailings; cost reimbursement, inclusive of label production, handling, etc. and plan for obtaining any clarification about the mailing process as we proceed to distribute the Toy Guides.
Please send additional Toy Guides to our office/home for personal use and/or distribution to new parents, conferences, training, etc.
Enter the number of additional Toy Guides here: _____________.
For all options please provide the necessary information below:
(PLEASE CALL LAURA AT (202) 434-8686 IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS)