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 Home > News  > IDEA Update & Game Plan (May 7, 2003)

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"What was the outcome on the IDEA Reauthorization vote last week?"

"How can I learn the status of H R 1350? Was it passed? Denied? Rewritten?"

On April 30, 2003, the House of Representatives voted 251-171 to approve H. R. 1350, the Republican bill to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Despite your calls and letters on National Call in Day, many Representatives said they knew little or nothing about H.R. 1350. Hmmm.

We need to learn from this experience. We must do a better job of educating our elected Representatives on the next round.

Read Pete's letter to our Representative, Joanne Davis

We learned that Representatives received a "Dear Colleague Letter" advising them that they would receive calls on April 29, that these calls were part of a coordinated effort to spread false information about the bill, and that the calls and contacts would contain incomplete, misleading, and false info by "opponents of improving the nation's special education law."

What Next?

The House bill is the first step in what may be a long process to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The Senate will introduce their bill to reauthorize the IDEA later this month before the Memorial Day recess. We understand that the Senate bill will be a bipartisan bill. However, Senator Judd Gregg, R-NH, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, praised the House for passing H.R. 1350:

"We intend to complete our bipartisan negotiations on the Senate version of the IDEA reauthorization and introduce our bill by the Memorial Day recess. We will markup the bill shortly thereafter."

On April 30, two Senators, Tom Harkin, D-Iowa and Chuck Hagel, R-Nebraska, introduced a bill to require the federal government to fully fund special education.

After the Senate committee introduces their bill to reauthorize the IDEA, the bill may be amended based on input the Senate receives from others, including you!

After the bill is amended, it will be voted on by the full Senate.

At that point, there will be two different versions of the reauthorized IDEA. Members of the House and Senate will meet to iron out the differences between the two bills. If the House and Senate are unable to resolve their differences, the reauthorization process will begin again next year.

NOTE: This happened when IDEA was reauthorized last time - the Senate and House were unable to develop a compromise that was acceptable to both sides. The main disagreements involved discipline issues. After several "off the record" meetings, the law was finally reauthorized in 1997.

Your Game Plan

We have been working with Research Editor Sue Heath to develop a Game Plan that will use your state's educational results to:

(1) educate your Senators about special education issues, and

(2) ask questions about how the proposed changes to IDEA will improve special education outcomes.

Sue points out that Senators will base their decisions about IDEA on what they know about Washington and what they know about their states. It is important that we use facts to educate our Senators.

Today's assignment has two parts.

1. Learn the names of your Senators.

Go to

Enter your Zip Code and click GO. The program will take you to a page that has the names of your Senators.

2. Get data about educational outcomes for your state.

Go to "State Education Indicators with a Focus on Title I" (a publication from the U.S. Department of Education) - this publication has important information about educational results in all states.

Get your state's educational profile.

Go to the State Profile page:

Scroll down and click the link for your state.

This will take you to the page of information about your state's educational system and results. Click the last link - "Printable version of this profile." You will get your state educational information as a 2 page document that includes:

* School and Teacher Demographics
* Student Demographics
* Statewide Accountability Information
* Title I Schools
* Assessment Information
* Student Achievement 1999-2000
* NAEP State Results
* Printable version of this profile (PDF format)

For many states, you can see the percentage of children who are proficient in reading /language arts and math at different grade levels and by category (race/ethnicity, low-income, limited English, children with disabilities, migratory children).

Most states test children for proficiency in 4th grade, 8th grade, and 10th grade. When you compare the percentages of children with disabilities who are proficient in reading/language arts in elementary school, middle school and high school, you will see if your schools are making progress and educating kids with disabilities.

NOTE: Some states have not reported this information yet. If your state profile has gaps, you may want to contact your No Child Left Behind representative to find out when this information will be available.

Tip: Print several copies of your state's educational profile.

Next week, we'll have advice about how you can use your state's educational results to educate your Senators about special education and IDEA.

Educating Your Senators

Jamie Ruppman, Director Governmental Relations for TASH, has this advice about what parents need to do now.

Call, fax and email your Senators. Send letters to your local papers and media outlets.

This is not rocket science, but it is hard work.

The issues that you as parents and advocates objected to in HR 1350 are on the table -- why do you object to them, what are these new provisions and, as important, reductions and elimination of rights and protections going to mean for your child and the children you represent?

FOCUS ON THE SENATORS WHO ARE NOT ON THE Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.


Bob Berlow, parent attorney and COPAA member, says,

When the Senate bill is introduced, we will have two weeks to make a difference. The Senate bill will go to mark up, and then to the Senate floor for a vote.

People need to start now. The people I talked to on Capital Hill told me they are not hearing from parents who oppose the bill, or are not hearing from parents in the numbers required.

Parents, advocates, friends, and family should fax letters to your Senators NOW. Tell your Senator to reject the harmful provisions of H.R. 1350 and act to protect children with disabilities.

Ask your friends, families, members of social clubs, houses of worship, etc. to contact Congress. You never know who has a relative or friend who is politically connected. Ask private therapists, pediatricians, and health care providers to fax letters.

Twenty-one Senators are on the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee. These Senators (or their staff ) will write the Senate bill. We need to educate these people now.

Candace Cortiella, Director of The Advocacy Institute, explains how you can take action.

Use the National Center for Learning Disabilities' Legislative Action Center to:


Go to:

Enter your Zip Code and click GO.

Compose your letter. You can use the pre-formatted letter as a starting point. Pick your favorite issue(s) - there's a list of thirteen -- add personal stories, etc.

You can email OR choose the Letter Option to print out your letter and FAX TO THE SENATE.

Next, CALL the Senator's office and discuss your concerns.


Let's get some press on what Congress is doing to the rights of kids with disabilities!

Go to:

Enter your Zip Code, then choose the media outlets to receive your message.

Last week more than 5000 messages to the media went out through this Alert!

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