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IDEA Update - What Can You Do?

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  • DLewis0991@aol.com
    ____________________________________ OUR CHILDREN LEFT BEHIND ____________________________________ APRIL 18, 2005 IDEA UPDATE - WHAT CAN YOU DO? People are
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 17 3:10 PM


      APRIL 18, 2005


      People are wondering what they can do now that IDEA 2004 has been passed and will go into effect on July 1, 2005. The answer is: “plenty!”

      The U.S. Department of Education will soon unveil its draft regulations, following which there will be a public comment period. There will be opportunities to comment in person (at a series of public meetings being held around the country) or in writing (or both).

      It is also important to pay attention to our state governments, as states may want to weaken their own special education laws and regulations to mirror the weakened federal IDEA. To do this, states will have to go through their own legislative and/or regulatory processes, and there should be opportunities for the public to comment on these changes as well.

      In the meanwhile, here are some concrete suggestions for things you can be doing right now.

      First, brush up on the changes that IDEA 2004 made to previous law. OSERS (a unit of the U.S. Department of Education) has put out an analysis of these changes:
      www.directionservice.org/cadre/stat_index_ideia.cfm. You can find plenty of other analyses and summaries posted on our site. And you can view the actual law itself at the Department of Education’s web page: www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/idea2004.html.

      Second, you can attend a public meeting and/or submit your comments in writing to the Department of Education. Below is some information on these options:

      New Round of IDEA Forums Announced by OSERS

      Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) John H. Hager announced a series of public meetings that will be held this year after the publication of proposed rules to implement the legislation to amend the Individuals with Disabilities Act Education.

      All forums will be held from 1 to 4 PM and 5 to 7 PM. OSERS will announce specific details as to locations through the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to be published in the Federal Register later this Spring.
      • San Antonio, TX :: Monday, June 6, 2005
      • Nashville, TN :: Friday, June 17, 2005
      • Sacramento, CA :: Wednesday, June 22, 2005
      • Las Vegas, NV :: Friday, June 24, 2005
      • New York, NY :: Monday, June 27, 2005
      • Chicago, IL :: Wednesday, June 29, 2005
      • Washington, DC :: Tuesday, July 12, 2005
      According to OSERS, people will be able to register to comment at the door, on a first-come first-served basis. Attendees can provide oral and written comments at the meetings; written comments that accompany oral remarks are optional.

      What if none of these locations are nearby? You can submit written comments or suggestions electronically to
      comments@... or mail them to Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Potomac Center Plaza, Room 5126, Washington, DC, 20202-2641.

      For Additional Information: Questions can be asked by calling OSERS' main number, 202-245-7468. If a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) is needed, people may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339.

      Finally, you can write your legislators and continue to keep the pressure up, letting them know there are people out there who care about special education and who are watching what they do. Your state legislators will be called upon by the school lobbies to weaken state special education law – let them know that families in your state do NOT want to see that happen! And while you’re at it, you can still keep writing to your federal legislators. They say the time to plan for the next election is immediately after the previous one. Well, IDEA will be up for reauthorization in a few short years (2007), so let’s get started on our next campaign! And while you’re at it, please copy officials at the U.S. Department of Education, so they can take your feelings into account when writing the federal regulations. Below is a template letter you can use:
      ~ ~ ~



      My name is ____, and I am a constituent of yours as well as the parent of a child with a disability (name the disability and describe if necessary - even enclose a picture of your child if you like). My child has been receiving IDEA services since _____ and has benefited in the following ways (fill in your story - triumphs due to a strong IDEA, problems due to a weak IDEA, etc.).

      I'm writing to ask you to please work to maintain a strong IDEA that continues to protect students with disabilities and their families. Please remember that we are the main stakeholders and that IDEA was designed to protect us and our civil rights. Please keep strong protections for our children so that they can continue to progress and to eventually close the achievement gap between students with disabilities and their nondisabled peers.

      Thank you.




      ~ ~ ~

      Send to:
      • Your state senators and representatives
      • Your U.S. senators and representatives if you like (remember that the next reauthorization is only a few years away!)
      Copy the following:
      • The Honorable Margaret Spellings
        U.S. Department of Education
        400 Maryland Avenue SW
        Washington, DC 20202
      • John H. Hager
        Assistant Secretary
        Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
        U.S. Department of Education
        400 Maryland Avenue, SW
        Washington, DC 20202
      • Troy Justesen
        Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary
        Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
        U.S. Department of Education
        400 Maryland Avenue, SW
        Washington, DC 20202
      • Your State Department of Education
      We hope this helps get you started on your continued IDEA advocacy!

      Sandy Strassman Alperstein, today's

      ©2004 Our Children Left Behind.

      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@....

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