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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is both a grants statute and a civil rights statute - Essay Example

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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act 2004 (IDEIA) recognizes the important contribution that persons with educational disabilities can make to society. It seeks to enhance the structure put into place by the Education for All Handicapped Children Act 1975 (IDEA 1975) which recognized the importance of bringing students with educational disabilities into mainstream education, and the provision of free, professional diagnosis.
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Not only does the 2004 Act consider the students themselves, but takes an holistic view of the developmental environment, taking into account the role of parents, pre-school services, adaptations in the classroom and supporting high-quality, intensive pre-service preparation and professional development for all personnel who work with special students and an emphasis on the use of scientifically-based instructional practices.
Like its previous enactment, IDEIA 2004 makes federal funding available for the provision of free appropriate education of disabled students. It also contains detailed due process provision to reinforce free appropriate education for disabled students. However, at the same time that the Government prepared to make more money available the Wall Street Journal3 reported that
The Department of Education reports that states are currently sitting on nearly $6 billion in unspent federal education funds acquired between 2000 and 2002. Some $2 billion of this is Title I money that's designated for the most disadvantaged students.
Congress enacted the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)-formerly the EAHCA-in 1975 partly in response to Mills v. Board of Education, 348 F. Supp. 866 (D.D.C. 1972), and Pennsylvania Ass'n of Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 343 F. Supp. 279 (E.D. Pa. 1972). Pennsylvania and Washington allowed schools to refuse admission to students with IQ scores below 70 until said students reached 8 years old.
Once admitted to school, many of these children were expelled because they could not learn how to read4.
IDEA 1975 limited coverage - and funding - to students who were educationally5 disabled. Importantly, as part of the funding deal, the provider had to ensure that the child's carers had access to a due process procedure in the event they wished to challenge the child's free appropriate public education assessment. Each student was to be given an individualized education plan (IEP) and educated in the 'least restrictive environment'. Public schools were required to provide learning aids, suitable tests and assessments. There was considerable disgruntlement in some quarters, since for the first time parents of educationally disabled students were empowered to the apparent detriment of parents of able students
Despite the success of the 1975 Act in providing free places in mainstream education for students with educational disabilities, there was increasing concern that low expectations and insufficient focus on applying proven methods of teaching for students with special educational needs were limiting the attainment of these students. Buried deep within the 2004 Act is the real reason - and some alarming statistics - explaining why the Government has finally moved on this matter. Sec 682, 12:
(A) Greater efforts are needed to prevent the intensification of problems connected with mislabeling and high dropout rates among minority children with disabilities.
(B) More minority children continue to be served in special education than would be expected from the percentage of minority students in the general school population.
(C) African-American children are identified as ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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