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A Closer Look at IDEA

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Ten percent of the world’s population is living with a disability. In the ever-changing technological world today, people are encouraged daily in all types of media to be accepting of sociaf diversities. Yet, in the annual report in 2017, Kraus states that thirty-eight percent of the world’s population believes that someone with a disability is a burden on society. Why is society afraid to include people with disabilities in the workforce today? With the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students with special needs are by law, required a plan for after secondary education to continue a functional living opportunity. This Act is a federal law and required by all states, it is a step in the right direction but needs to be adjusted. If IDEA becomes more collaborative, changes funding regulations, and provides strategies for student and teachers to better educate and learn, this act could be more beneficial to those involved.

IDEA stemmed from the Brown v. Board of Education case. Even though this court case was “a 1954 Supreme Court case in which the justices ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional.” (History) the progression from this has sky rocketed. This court case was the turning point for minorities. The case ruled discrimination and isolation from race to be unacceptable and unconstitutional. Fast forward to 1971 where PARC (Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children) v. Penn called for students with disabilities to be placed in publicly funded school settings that met their individual educational needs. (Timeline of Disabilities). PARC introduced segregation from those with disabilities and pronounced it a problem. Noticeable progress has been made from these two cases that eventually lead to the Public Law 94-142 or also known as Education for all Handicap Children Act that later merged with IDEA in December of 2004. From this point on it is by law that all states follow these commands and allow all disabled students a right to free education and a path into secondary education or the work force.

Individuals with disabilities education act is and should continue to be a federal law and required by all fifty states. Although some changes do need to be made. It provides free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to all students. Meaning that all kids with disabilities have the right to go to school for free. IDEA needs to be clarified and established to all students and parents about any grey areas. There are consistently misconceptions such as what appropriate means in the terms of FAPE. FAPE is described as a cornerstone of IDEA, that “emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet the child’s unique needs and that prepares the child for further education, employment, and independent living.” (Key Definitions). Without this act special needs students would not get the equal opportunity to succeed in school along with their peers. All in all, this act is a great help to those with and who are surrounded by people with disabilities, with slight changes it could help even more.

The IDEA act should focus on educational outcomes and success instead of compliance. One way to do this is to promote accurate and helpful information between parents and schools in developing appropriate individualized education programs. IEP (individual education program) is a document that is developed for each public-school child who needs special education. (Mckinney). With this documentation, it benefits all special education students and provides them with a brighter future. IEP meetings are a big part of the steps to success we need. According to the National School Boards Association, “IEP meetings were intended by Congress to be a collaborative process in which all individuals involved in the education of the child, including the parent, work together to develop an appropriate educational program.”(p.5) This is beneficial to everyone involved because it gets the child and parent needs met as well as following the rules IDEA provides. Although, the National School Boards Association also states that “IEP meetings can be overly focused on procedure rather than outcomes and substance, and at times contentious.” (p.5) This continues the idea that the act should focus more on the future for the kids involved and not just go through the motions.

Federal contribution to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has been falling short. It is promised to provide 40% of funding when only 20% is being given. (Jim Keith p.2). Cost effective measures, saving educator time, and school funds should be implemented. In a school, consequences should be provided if these IDEA factors are not being provided. Such as, “Permit school district-paid independent educational evaluations only upon a showing that the school’s evaluation failed to comply with the IDEA requirements.” (Jim Keith p.2) In other words this is saying, that it should be law to provide the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requirements to all students and it is important enough to point out when a school fails to do so. Another suggestion is to “Limit a school district’s financial obligation for a private or other out-of-district private placement to costs of services that are primarily educational in nature.” (Jim Keith p.3). When the National School Boards Association says this in their article “What’s Wrong with the IDEA? A Close Look at the Current Law’s Challenges and Recommendations for Reauthorization” they are saying that there should be limitations on a schools obligated spending for education outside of their classrooms. In classrooms and school districts there should be laws against this and continually looking for ways to better their students.

The goal for the Counsel of School Attorney’s to improve IDEA is “to reduce complexity of compliance and to provide guidelines and flexibility to schools so they can improve student success by focusing on teaching/learning for all students.” (Jim Keith p.2) IDEA was placed because it is unconstitutional to segregate these students from public school. We as a society should have a mindset the benefit the world we live in. To do that it must come from every individual including special educated students and working together as a whole to maximize our priorities. Education and student success should be one of those priorities. All disabilities are widely different. Even the same disability in two different people have varying capabilities and “tics”. Tics are a certain thing or thought that makes someone with a disability have an “episode” or lash out. This proves that just like those without disabilities everyone is greatly different, and all learn in different ways. If we individualize learning in the classroom and make IDEA more flexible so it can help a greater variety of students and focus on what they need rather than just following the criteria, this can make the Counsel of School Attorney’s goal to provide better guidelines and flexibility more realistic and achievable.

If provided with a more collaborative process, we will see more positive outcomes for all students. “Before 1975, more than a million students with mental, physical, and other disabilities were excluded from school and approximately 3.5 million did not receive appropriate services.” (Jim Keith p.1). IDEA has changed the lives of many people and with the outcomes of students being a priority, better funding, and better teaching and learning strategies applied, IDEA can make an even bigger impact on the lives revolving around a disability and ensure all students are prepared for post-secondary education or a job in the work field.  

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