Two bills are pending before Congress that would revise the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
The law promises all children with disabilities a “free, appropriate public education.” The House has approved a revision, and the Senate is expected to consider its own version.
Supporters of the House version of the legislation say it would reduce paperwork for teachers and align the law with the No Child Left Behind Act.
Some special-education advocates fear that the changes would weaken protection and services for students.HOUSE OKS VOUCHER PLAN FOR D.C. STUDENTS
The U.S. House has approved a pilot school-voucher plan for Washington, D.C., that would give low-income parents a choice in where their children attend school.
“This vote takes us one step closer to making the dream of a better education a reality for thousands of children in Washington, D.C.,” said U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige.
Earlier, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved similar legislation. It won support from two Democrats, including Dianne Feinstein of California.
“I think we spend too much time supporting old structures and not enough time on what works for children,” Feinstein said. “If we look at what works for children, we would probably agree that different models have to be provided, because what works for one child may not necessarily work for another.”SENATOR APPEALS FOR MORE TITLE I FUNDS
U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia has introduced an amendment that would provide full funding for the federal Title I education program.
The No Child Left Behind Act authorized $18.5 billion for Title I funding for 2004, but the administration's budget calls for only $12.4 billion. Byrd says if the reduced funding is approved, the program will aid 4.1 million disadvantaged children instead of 6.2 million.
Noting that many schools have failed to make “adequate yearly progress” as defined in the No Child Left Behind Act, Byrd asks, “Where is the money going to come from to help these schools improve? State governments are facing a fiscal crisis. And yet this appropriations bill underfunds Title I by more than $6 billion.”