Congress has been preoccupied with the War on Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Social Security and has not given too much time to issues all of us find vitally important for people with disabilities on a day-to-day basis. This issue of Legislative Update will discuss five issues of which people with disabilities and advocates for people with disabilities should be aware
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (PL 108-446), the old (IDEA), was reauthorized by the 108th Congress of the United States on December 3, 2004. Following the passage of a major piece of legislation, there is typically a long period for formulation of the regulations guiding the implementation of the intent of the law.
The development of IDEIA regulations is finally nearing completion and should be released as this issue of PALAESTRA goes to print. Of concern in the regulation process for Adapted Physical Educators is the definition of Physical Education. Physical Education has been defined as the full scope of activities of the physical education curriculum (i.e., physical and motor fitness, lifetime sports and games, aquatics, dance, etc.). Redefining the physical education curriculum could reduce the need for Adapted Physical Education in the schools. For instance, one proposal was to define Physical Education with the vague term of Movement Exploration, among others. Vague terms will enable school activities such as recess, after-school recreation programs, and physical and occupational therapies to serve as physical education as we now know it.
Please keep an eye on open comments on the regulations of IDEIA and if these changes are suggested, contact your federal legislators and remind them of the value of regular physical education to all children!
Child Nutrition (Planning for Physical Activity)
The School Nutrition Programs were also reauthorized during the 108th Congress. One of the provisions was for local communities to develop planning for the implementation of programs to confront childhood obesity. These local programs were to include programs of physical activities in communities and in the schools. This legislation provides incentives for local school districts and communities to develop physical education and recreation programs that include students with disabilities into these federal programs. Parents of children with disabilities, advocates, and teachers, should question those districts receiving federal funding to determine the level of inclusion of children with disabilities into funding priorities.
The Federal Appropriations Process
Federal physical education and recreation supported programs for persons with disabilities are funded through the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Department Appropriations Committee. The federal budget resolutions determine available resources the Labor. HHS, and Education appropriations committees have for funding physical education and recreation programs. Because of the three key concerns that Congress is currently focusing upon, the federal budget deficit and significantly reduced fiscal resources for services of programs of physical education and recreation for persons with disabilities through the appropriations process will most likely require service-cuts.
A service cut is an allocation of resources that is less than the FY 2005 appropriation plus the cost of inflation. So, if a federally-supported physical education or recreation program that provides services to individuals with disabilities is level funded because of inflation, it is more difficult to continue services at a status-quo.
Some programs that may receive service cuts are personnel preparation projects of IDEIA, Physical Education for Progress Grants (PEP Grants), Recreation Services Administration recreation …