IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – provides guidelines and protections for children, up to age 21, requiring special education in their schooling. More info on IDEA – Here is some Wiki info. Here is the government website.
IDEA is getting a lot of attention this month. Both with the senate hearings on Betsy DeVoss as Trump’s choice for Department of Education and arguments at the Supreme Court level as to what the public schools must do to meet the requirements of a Free Appropriate Public Education – FAPE. Here is Wiki info. Here is the government website.
Let’s start with Betsy DeVoss –
Her senate hearing has begun. She has already shown how embarrassingly clueless she is about the actual work the department does or oversees. This following is a small portion of the questioning between Betsy DeVoss and Senator Tim Kaine.
Kaine: You don’t agree with me. Let me move to my next question. Should all K-12 school receiving governmental funding be required to meet the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?
DeVos: I think they already are.
Kaine: I’m asking you a “should” question. Whether they are or not, we’ll get into that later. Should all schools that receive taxpayer funding be required to meet the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?
DeVos: I think that’s a matter that’s best left to the states.
Kaine: So some states might be good to kids with disabilities and other states might not be so good, and then what? People can just move around the country if they don’t like how their kids are being treated?
DeVos: I think that’s an issue best left to the states.
Kaine: What about the federal requirement. It’s a federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Let’s limit it to federal funding. If schools receive federal funding should they be required to follow a federal law whether they are public, public charter or private?
DeVos: As the Senator referred to –
Kaine: Just yes or no, I’ve only got one more question
DeVos: There’s a Florida program. There are many parents that are very happy with the program there.
Kaine: Let me state this: I think all schools that receive federal funding, public, public charter or private should be required to meet the conditions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Di you agree with me or not?
DeVos: I think that is certainly worth discussion and I would look forward to.
So she is willing to discuss the application of this law if she were to be confirmed. I translate this to mean one of two things – “I have no idea what you are asking me about so I am going to go with state choice because that is popular with republicans and look like I remain open to discussion while I have someone do research for me to give me the abridged version of it.” – Or – “I do not support this federal law at all but I can’t say that right now so I will act like I don’t know what you are talking about, feigning ignorance, which I think is more acceptable to the masses than the truth.”
Moving on to the Supreme Court. They just last week heard arguments on Endrew F. vs Douglas County School District. In this case they are being called upon to decide what children receiving public school special ed have the legal right to expect from their school district to meet the requirements of a Free Appropriate Public Education – FAPE – as it is outlined in IDEA. In this case the parents are stating that the public school system failed their child as proven by his now highly improved educational experience in a private school. The parents contend that it is the school district’s responsibility to pay for their child’s private education since they refused/were unable to educate him in their public school. Here is some info on the case.
There are a lot of important decisions currently being considered regarding the future of special education in public schools. I believe anyone who is involved with education or specifically involved with special ed needs to watch carefully and respond as needed to what is occurring. I know I am.
**For full disclosure.. Right now my son is being schooled at home due to the sensory challenges he faces being in a class room. It is my desire that he reach a point to be able to attend a public school in the future. I do not have a problem with religious schools, private schools, charters, homeschooling or school choices. I have deep concerns about IDEA and FAPE being gutted, leaving our most vulnerable children without supportive education.