Left Behind with No 'IDEA': Children with Disabilities Without Means
Boston College Journal of Law & Social Justice, Vol. 34:283 (2014)
29 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2014 Last revised: 18 Jul 2014
Date Written: July 14, 2014
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) required America’s public schools to make every student proficient in reading, math and science by the year 2014. The 2004 amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) attempted to reconcile the IDEA with the NCLB. The IDEA gives parents the right to negotiate educational programs for their children with disabilities and creates procedures to protect the parents’ role. The 2004 IDEA amendments unjustifiably reduced the power of parents of children with disabilities to negotiate appropriate educational programs for their children. The changes have the greatest impact on parents with limited financial means.
The heart of the IDEA is its promise of a free appropriate public education in the most integrated setting possible. The IDEA’s strategy for providing education in an integrated environment to students whose unique needs require specially tailored educational programs is to guarantee an individualized educational program (IEP) for each eligible child. The IDEA seeks to guarantee the appropriate content of individualized programs by giving the parents of each eligible child a significant role in determining the program. Parents not only have the right to participate in drafting the IEP, but they have the right to seek administrative and judicial review of the content and implementation of an IEP. The 2004 amendments to the IDEA and two subsequent U.S. Supreme Court cases have made it more difficult and more expensive for parents to obtain meaningful review of school actions. The IDEA needs to be amended to restore and strengthen the role of parents in the education of children with disabilities.
Keywords: special education, public education, No Child Left Behind Act, NCLB, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA, Individualized Educational Program, IEP, disability, children, poverty
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