Stakes High as IDEA Moves to Senate House Bill Omits Key Provisions on Highest Qualified Providers Policy Analysis
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Policy Analysis  |   May 01, 2003
Stakes High as IDEA Moves to Senate
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Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   May 01, 2003
Stakes High as IDEA Moves to Senate
The ASHA Leader, May 2003, Vol. 8, 1-31. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.08102003.1
The ASHA Leader, May 2003, Vol. 8, 1-31. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.08102003.1
On April 30, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1350, the Improving Educational Results for Children with Disabilities Act, to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The bill, which lacks key provisions related to qualified providers, now moves to the Senate, where grassroots advocacy is essential.
As the lengthy reauthorization process began, ASHA developed a comprehensive list of reforms to advance current IDEA law. H.R. 1350 does make some changes that reflect the intentions of the Association’s recommendations—changes addressing paperwork reduction, model forms, expanding pre-referral, and speeding early intervention services. The authors of H.R. 1350, however, eliminated key provisions of current law guaranteeing that children with disabilities have access to qualified special education and related services personnel, including school-based speech-language pathologists and audiologists. As a result, ASHA President Glenda Ochsner sent a letter to every member of the House of Representatives urging the defeat of the bill.
Grassroots advocacy by ASHA in collaboration with 37 other national disability, parent, and professional organizations failed to defeat H.R. 1350—in large part, because of the secretive way in which the bill was pushed through to a vote. Thousands of phone calls, faxes, e-mails, and letters were sent to House members prior to consideration of H.R. 1350. In addition to several action alerts and coverage in The ASHA Leader, ASHA recently sent out more than 35,000 e-mails alerting the membership of the April 30 floor vote on H.R. 1350. Over four days, nearly 1,000 ASHA members contacted Congress on H.R. 1350 via the Take Action advocacy site. This figure excludes any calls, letters, or faxes that were sent through means other than ASHA’s Take Action site, which tracks the number of member contacts with Congress.
The secrecy with which this bill was drafted, the fast track on which it was considered, and the intransigence of House education committee staff to changes to the bill proved to be major obstacles in the legislative process. The highest qualified provider provision also proved challenging during the 1997 IDEA reauthorization process, when the House removed the provision but it was restored in the Senate and maintained in the conference committee.
Act Now, Contact Senators
Now the focus shifts to the Senate. Members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which has jurisdiction over IDEA, are working now to craft a bipartisan IDEA bill.
If your senator is a member of this key committee, it is imperative that you contact them—by phone calls, faxes, and letters—to let them know that accountability, high standards, and legislation ensuring that children with disabilities get the most appropriate education and related services possible are essential if we are to truly guarantee that “no child is left behind.”
Visit ASHA’s Web site for more information, including a list of HELP Committee members, contact information, and a sample message.
Please watch your e-mail, The ASHA Leader, and the ASHA Web site for further information as events develop. For more information about the reauthorization of IDEA, contact Neil Snyder by e-mail at nsnyder@asha.org or by phone through the Action Center at 800-498-2071, ext. 4257.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
May 2003
Volume 8, Issue 10