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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

An Update from the NCIL Education Subcommittee: Sequestration, DOE’s Equitable Service Plan, Common Core Testing, Restraint & Seclusion, and Safe Schools

NCIL Members Solicited to Serve on the Education Subcommittee

The Education Subcommittee monitors and participates in the development and implementation of education-related federal legislation and policy. The Subcommittee encourages grassroots efforts to advocate for strong education policy and implementation at the federal, state and local level. If you are interested in joining the Subcommittee, please contact Maureen Hollowell at mhollowell@endependence.org, 757-351-1584 (voice), or 757-461-7527 (TDD).

Budget Sequestration and Education

School districts have received federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funding for the current school year. Sequestration, as it stands now, will result in a reduction of funds to schools in the coming school year. Funds for public education will be significantly reduced. School districts will need to make difficult decisions about services. It will be important that advocates remind students, parents and educators that Part B of IDEA must still be implemented. Part B includes the provision of IEP services, accommodations, and other related provisions. Student rights and school responsibility for Part B implementation is not tied to federal funding. Student rights and school responsibility for Part B implementation must be upheld regardless of sequestration. Read more about the impact of sequestration on education.

IDEA and ESEA Equitable Services Plan

The U.S. Department of Education has announced a plan “for improving the implementation of equitable services requirements under applicable programs authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).” The plan will address “the collaborative work of State and local public school officials and private school leaders to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of these requirements and the delivery of services.” The Department of Education will hold conference calls about the plan in the near future. Read the DOE announcement (PDF).

Common Core Testing

“Race to the Top” is a federal education initiative to improve outcomes for students. A number of grants have been awarded to assist the U.S. Department of Education with this initiative. The development of a K-12 assessment system aligned to a set of Common Core Standards in language arts and math is being developed. The required assessment will be computer-based. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education awarded a $186 million grant to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) to create the assessment system that will be available for the school year beginning in 2014. PARCC is required to ensure access to the tests by students with disabilities. PARCC will be seeking public comment on the draft accommodation policy manual in April. NCIL will alert our members to the opportunity for public comment in a future edition of the Weekly Advocacy Monitor.

Restraint and Seclusion Legislation

Congressional members continue to draft legislation to address the use of restraints and seclusion. Legislation has failed in previous years. The NCIL Education Subcommittee is monitoring the legislative Committees and will respond when legislation is available.

Safe Schools Improvement Act

The Safe Schools Improvement Act has been introduced as S.403 by Senator Bob Casey (PA) and as H.R.1199 by Representative Linda Sanchez (CA). The legislation addresses bullying in public schools by prohibiting bullying or harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion. The Act would also require local school districts to report data on bullying.

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