Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Special Compromise on Education ; the Senate and House Pass New Bill for Students with Disabilities

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Special Compromise on Education ; the Senate and House Pass New Bill for Students with Disabilities

Article excerpt

Two years after debate in Congress began, the law governing instruction for this country's more than 6 million special- education students is poised to be updated. The House and Senate passed a bill last Friday which aims to improve education for children with learning disabilities.

Rather than a sweeping overhaul, however, more modest changes will be seen in the ways disabled students may be disciplined, the ways that they are identified, and the qualifications required of their teachers. The bill also aims to reduce paperwork and expand support services.

The compromise between the House and Senate is a testament to the strength of the Individuals With Disabilities Act (IDEA), and the way in which special-ed has become a feature of the education landscape. Passed in 1975, IDEA requires that students with mental, physical, and emotional disabilities receive the same quality public education as other children.

It's "a strong law in favor of disabled children," says Jack Jennings, director of the Center on Education Policy, an independent group in Washington that advocates for public education. For that reason, he says, and because of broad support from "people across the political spectrum and all income groups," it would be difficult to dramatically alter IDEA.

The renewal also calls for the federal government to recommit to covering 40 percent of the cost of special education, a provision that was written into the original law. But federal funding now stands at around 18 percent and has never exceeded that amount. Because full funding is not mandated in the revision, many experts doubt that it will be achieved by 2011, the date Congress has set as its goal.

Some of the most contentious discussion during the renewal process surrounded the question of how children with disabilities should be disciplined.

School administrators and teachers have long expressed frustration over the fact that special-education students have not been held to the same rules of conduct as their general-education peers. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.