The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
Senate Reauthorizes Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Feature Story by civilrights.org staff - 5/28/2004In bipartisan support for equal access in children's education, the Senate overwhelmingly supported (95 to 3) the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) on May 13.
First passed in 1975, IDEA guarantees "free, appropriate public education" to children with disabilities. More specifically, IDEA provides students with support services such as assistive listening systems, Braille textbooks, talking computers, and speech synthesizers.
Elizabeth Lind, policy associate at the Judge David J. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, praised IDEA.
"Like all children, kids with disabilities who are excluded from education are at increased risk of future unemployment, incarceration and many other unacceptable, expensive and wholly preventable outcomes," Lind said. "We know the best way to enable children with disabilities to succeed as adults is to make sure they can access the free and appropriate public education they're entitled to under IDEA."
Yet IDEA advocates say that the Senate's reauthorization is only half of the victory. Lind, like others, is concerned that the U.S. House of Representatives version of the legislation would erode many of the original act's protections.
The House bill eliminates assessments of a school's obligation to children in special education. For instance, it does not provide for oversight when children with mental and physical disabilities are removed from school for violating the institution's general code of conduct.
"[T]he radical differences in the two bills must now be addressed in conference," Lind said. "Conferees must recognize the vital importance of this measure to students with disabilities, teachers who struggle to address disruptive behaviors and the taxpayers who will foot the bill if Congress fails to ensure educational access for students with disabilities."