Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Background of the passage of PL94-142

The public law 94-142 was enacted in the year 1975. Before this enactment, the dreams of many children living with disabilities were fading away. Too many such children lived in state institutions for the mental mentally challenged and mentally ill. A good example is the 1967 situation where state institutions provided home for more than 200,000 disabled people. Many of these institutions provided minimal food, shelter and clothing, which are very basic to human beings. These people were simply accommodated rather than being rehabilitated, educated and assessed. They lacked any support from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Tests were incorrectly done leading to inapt labeling and unproductive education. Given the diverse cultures, racial and ethnic background of the disabled youngsters, providing a decent education to them was very challenging due to lack of appropriate registration and smooth systems. In addition, most of the affected families were never accorded the chance to involve themselves in the planning let alone the placement of their children. The resources available could neither support nor enable the significantly disabled children to access education in locally available schools.

In the mid-twentieth century, through strong advocacy and support from family associations, the Federal government initiated the development and validation of practices for disabled children and their families. These practices became the foundation the implementation of effective services and programs for early intervention and special education for the disabled children in all states. Notable examples of these early registrations include PL86-158 that advocated for training of professionals, PL85-905 that advocated for training provisions for mental retardation teachers and PL87-276, which advocated for the training of instructional personnel among others. After a long struggle, the PL 94-142 was enacted and it provided a free and special public education for all disabled children and all states.

Main purpose of IDEA 2004

In the year 2004, IDEA was reauthorized as an improvement to the PL 94-142. It had several purposes as seen through the changes it made. Among these purposes, include the provision of highly qualified teachers. It required the special education teachers must meet the highly qualified requirements. Another purpose was to increase the funding towards the implementation of special education programs. The Congress increased the funding to 40% of educating children with disabilities excess costs. IDEA 2004 was meant to lay a path for full government funding.

IDEA 2004 sought to ensure that all disabled children had access to free education that emphasize on related services and special education intended to meet exceptional needs and prepare the children for independent living, further education or employment.  In addition, it was meant to ensure that the teachers and parents have the necessary tools and requirements to improve the education of the disabled children. This was to be achieved by supporting activities to improve the system, coordinated research, coordinated technical assistance, personnel preparation, support and dissemination and technology development. The IDEA 2004 main purpose was to improve the PL94-142 in areas where it was not doing well.



Important changes that affect implementation and delivery of special education services for children with disabilities

IDEA has undergone many changes since it was originally passed. Its changing is continuous in nature. In ensuring that all disabled children have access to free education, special programs were created to accommodate these children.  IDEA initially supported children from three to twenty-one years. However, it was amended in 1986 and the states were mandated to provided services and programs from birth. This has greatly improved the life of the disabled children and their families in that the child gets support at an early stage and adjusts accordingly in growth.

Again, IDEA provided that assessments to determine whether a child has any disability to be conducted.  This was meant to ensure that no eligible children are left out, and non-eligible children do not take advantage. Through these assessments, millions of disabled children have been identified and enrolled in the special programs. The assessment criteria are improved from time to time to ensure it meets the IDEA definition of disabled. In line with the zero reject law, states have to report the progress of all students in their schools. However, the assessment of the disabled children is reported as subgroups and as part of the student body. Their yearly progress is calculated separately. Again, these children are tested against appropriate standards fit for their intellectual development. It is clear that these children receive special treatment as required.

The enactment of IDEA 2004 came with more changes. The states were to provide programs that prepared the children for the real life experiences. Just like normal children, these disabled children also have a right to be employed, further their education and live decently. This was only possible if the children are prepared adequately for this in school. Unlike before, parents are actively involved in any decisions and placements of their decision. For the state to place a disabled child under the special program, the parent must consent. In addition, the parents are involved in the preparation of the programs. These changes have made it easy to implement and deliver the special treatment programs. The federal government is always making amendments in the IDEA just to ensure that the disabled are receiving the special treatment they receive.

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