Good News for Parents and Children: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Thrives!

Article excerpt

Parents, children, teachers and school administrators all anticipate the new school year with mixed feelings. Parents of children with disabilities must be certain that all aspects of the individualized educational plan created in the spring are in place. They must be aware that the attitudes of individual teachers, therapists and administrators can affect the success of each program. Unfortunately, in many communities, the attitudes of professionals have been colored by real threats to financial support for public education. Let us begin the school year by thanking these key allies for their continued commitment to education and to children and families, especially in these difficult times.

Parents have also heard the concerns about the "high costs" of educating children with special needs or of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. While negative attitudes toward programs have received considerable media attention, as we prepared this education issue we found encouraging evidence of strong support in:

* A record number of outstanding nominations for our Annual School Mainstreaming Awards -- from vastly different communities, serving children of different ages with various disabilities and illustrating the power of parents and dedicated professionals working in the interests of all children;

* A number of inspiring, practical responses (see pages 14-17) to a Parents Search letter published in our June 1992 issue from a grandmother inquiring about inclusion of her grandchild in a regular classroom -- again illustrating the creativity and power of parents and caring professionals; and

* A recent opinion by U.S. District Judge David E. Levi in California (see page 18) affirming a child's right to a mainstreamed school program.

Although the ruling is being appealed, Judge Levi's opinion spoke with sensitivity and understanding about the unique expertise of parents and classroom teachers as well as the dilemma of conflicting assessments by different well-intentioned professionals. Judge Levi wrote:

"The contrary assessments of Rachel's academic progress are rounded in conflicting educational philosophies .... The Court suggests no criticism of these witnesses. But because of the radically different points of view from which they start, the observations . …

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