Suddenly, and certainly much too quickly, it is February 1st. As we promised in our “Hiatus” Home page at the end of November, we’re back for the final IDEA 2004 activity. We hope you all celebrated happy holidays and have had a safe and happy beginning of the New Year so far. The Our Children Left Behind [OCLB] team has had some time to reconnect with family and other people and activities important to us during our hiatus. We also have been reintroduced to the adage that work expands to fill the time available. We’ve been able to think and talk things out among ourselves, but already other needs and activities have swooped in to fill the time we intended to use “resting” from the IDEA reauthorization battle. But isn’t that the way it goes …
“The [IDEA] fight isn’t over. The changes approved by the Conference Committee and by Congress still must go through the rulemaking process and all 50 states – and all of their local school districts – need to implement the changes. There are many places and ways we parents and advocates can make a difference in how the 'new' law actually gets put into place in local schools. OCLB is learning about rulemaking plans and ways to influence the process. You can be sure we will remain involved.”
And we shall remain involved, but in a streamlined fashion. The IDEA changes signed into law in December take effect this coming July. Over the next several months www.OurChildrenLeftBehind.com will remain your “go to” site for the latest information on the IDEA implementation process. We also will be making timely suggestions on how you can help minimize the damage to IDEA by working to keep your state special education laws and rules strong.
But the saying goes that “all politics is local.” And so it is. The spotlight is off Congress. The fight now is going to be in the state legislatures and local school districts. The soldiers in this fight now must be the parents and families who live in the states and the local and state parent organizations who support them.
We founders formed OCLB to unite, inspire and support parents, families and organizations in the massive national effort to save IDEA in Congress. OCLB cannot fulfill the same role in 50 separate states and thousands of local districts. We have given the direct support we can, but now it’s your turn. The job is local, and the locals have to run it.
During the IDEA rulemaking stage OCLB will modify its Home page practices. We will publish OCLB Home pages intermittently, but not more than once a week. Instead we are shifting our efforts to the parts of OCLB's site that let you, the reader, inform your neighbors and supporters about the activities and strategies being used in your states.
To that end, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of our IDEA Reauthorization Message Board. It provides a venue through which you can share your thoughts and experiences. To make it even simpler, we've removed the requirement that you must register with ezBoard in order to post. (This also means that posts can be made anonymously, if that's an issue for you.)
If you've submitted input via e-mail, please post it on the Message Board so that others can see your contribution. Don't assume your concerns are being expressed by others! As you prepare your feedback, you might find the following resources helpful: the CRS Analysis of IDEA 2004 and A User's Guide to the 2004 IDEA Reauthorization (P.L. 108-446 and the Conference Report) by Bobby Silverstein, J.D., Director of The Center for the Study and Advancement of Disability Policy.
OCLB is going to go to the end of the reauthorization process with you. We look forward to your input and suggestions. As huge as the action in Congress was, it doesn’t compare with what parents and families now face in the individual states. But remember this: The people who really must hear from you now are not your Senators or Representatives. The people who need you most are your children, your neighbors who parent children who have special needs, and your local school districts. Parents remain central to the IDEA process. We just must hold on to and help each other now more than ever before. OCLB wants to help, but you have to do this last part for yourself. That is as it should be.
Our Children Left Behind [OCLB] was created and is owned/operated by parent volunteers (Shari Krishnan, Tricia & Calvin Luker, Sandy Strassman Alperstein, and Debi Lewis). Permission to forward, copy, and/or post this article is granted provided that it is unedited and attributed to the author(s) and www.ourchildrenleftbehind.com. For more about OCLB or to share information, please contact parentvolunteer@....