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Education Insider

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

June 13, 2003


The NEA bill is on the Hill!
NEA's Great Public Schools for Every Child Bill is in every Congressional office. The bill includes all six NEA priority corrections that provide real help for real students in our public schools.

  • Funding - Fully fund all federal requirements at the levels established in the bill. Suspend all testing and accountability requirements not fully funded.

  • 'Highly Qualified Teachers' - Ensure that all children have a 'highly qualified teacher' by modifying the definition to reflect the unique circumstances of special education, middle school, bilingual education, and rural school assignments, and withdrawing the blanket exemptions applied to charter schools, supplemental service providers, and alternate route programs.

  • 'AYP' - Grant schools flexibility in measuring adequate yearly progress.

  • Schools-in-need-of-Improvement - Grant states flexibility in taking steps to improve schools in need of help.

  • Paraprofessionals - Ensure that schools fund the help paraprofessionals need to meet the new NCLB standards.

  • Civil Rights - Ensure that entities receiving federal funds comply with federal civil rights laws.

    Action Alert! Urge your U.S. Representative and Senators to sponsor NEA's 'Great Public Schools for Every Child' Act.

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IDEA Round Four - The Senate Bill
NEA applauds Senate efforts to address 'highly qualified' definition.
Less than 24 hours ago, the Senate released its IDEA reauthorization bill that has been in the wings since the House bill passed on April 30. NEA is analyzing the as yet unnumbered bill. Stay tuned.

'Highly Qualified' Definition - First Glance. NEA's hard work in the Senate appears to have yielded a major policy win! NEA applauds Senate efforts to address and correct the House bill's 'highly qualified teacher' language. The House bill imported the ESEA/NCLB language that requires all teachers to have degrees or to pass tests in each academic subject taught. Under the House bill, thousands of special education teachers who have already demonstrated their competence in their fields will be labeled as "not highly qualified."

About mandatory full funding of IDEA. The bill does not include mandatory full funding.

  • What's rumored: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will be denied the opportunity to consider mandatory full funding

  • What we know: The 1975 special education law guaranteed every special needs child a "free appropriate" education. Congress promised to reimburse states for up to 40 percent of the cost. However, Congress has never honored this commitment. The federal government currently provides states 18 percent of the cost. Since the inception of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1975, the unfunded federal portion has cost local schools and taxpayers over $300 billion.

  • What we need … Action Alert!

    • Urge Senators on the HELP Committee -- "Ensure the Senate reauthorization bill includes a provision for mandatory full funding of IDEA."

    • Urge Senators not on the HELP Committee to carry this message to committee members.

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