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Ed-Insider April 2, 2004


 Education Insider

A weekly review of progress on the Quality Public Schools Agenda and other legislation that impacts our students, classrooms, and public education.

April 2, 2004

IDEA - Closing the Special Education Funding Gap

The Senate could begin debate on reauthorizing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA (S. 1248) as early as this coming week.

Five-Minute Activist - Urge your U.S. Senators to support mandatory full funding of IDEA. It's past time to keep the promise.

The Hagel-Harkin Amendment
Senator Harkin (IA) will offer a bipartisan amendment - the Hagel-Harkin (Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) Amendment. The Hagel-Harkin Amendment - based on Hagel-Harkin S. 939 - would for the first time fully fund the federal 40 percent share of IDEA costs through guaranteed increases in federal funding over eight years.

Congress has NEVER met its commitment to provide the promised 40 percent funding since the law was first enacted in 1975. For cash-strapped states and school districts forced to cut back programs or increase taxes to make up the federal shortfall, this amendment means RELIEF. [link to new Harkin-Hagel table]

ESEA/NCLB and Common Sense #4
NEA members are making their voices heard. The tide is beginning to change. This week, Education Secretary Paige announced the fourth change in as many weeks in the rules implementing ESEA/The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.

States may now allow averaging of up to three years to meet the 95 percent test participation mandate. The change also allows for student absences due to "medical emergencies."

  • Thumbs Up - A Win for Common Sense: This marks the fourth change similar or identical to changes NEA called for more than a year ago.

  • Thumbs Down - Acknowledging the Mistake, but Not Fixing the Results: The Department took two years after the law passed to issue clear guidelines explaining how schools should account for the test scores of students with disabilities and limited-English proficient students and the 95 percent test participation rate in calculating Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Yet the Department refuses to make the changes retroactive.

    The Result: Schools are inaccurately labeled 'in need of improvement,' confusing the community and misdirecting resources from schools in need of additional support to schools that are, in fact, making AYP.

Fundamental problems remain unresolved. NEA is working hard for passage of 16 bills in the U.S. House and Senate that fix and fund NCLB. More information


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