IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, our country’s federal law guaranteeing students with disabilities a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment, has been on the books since 1975. In the forty-five years this has been law it has been revised and updated many times, most recently in 2004.
After having been law for so long, you would ting that most states would be in line with what the law guarantees the students of the United States, but you would be wrong.
During the 2017-18 school year, less than half the states met the requirements of IDEA, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Just twenty-one states have been designated as, Meet Requirements, which means that twenty-nine states plus the District of Columbia fall into the, Needs Assistance category.
Those states have failed in their efforts to provide students age 3-21 the education they’re guaranteed under IDEA. The ramifications for not meeting the guidelines can be significant as states who do not meet the requirements two years in a row are forced to have their special education departments taken over by the U.S. Department of Education (U.S.D.O.E.).
The actions taken by the U.S.D.O.E. can include directing how a state spends its federal funds, withdrawing funding, requiring corrective actions through an action plan, and even bringing in the Department of Justice.
On a positive note, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming have all met the requirements of IDEA statewide.
No state met the more severe designations of, Needs Intervention or Needs Substantial Intervention.
That’s not to say that individual school districts in the passing states don’t have work to do, just that overall as a state they are fulfilling the requirements of IDEA.
We owe it to the students of this country, whether having a disability or not, to provide them with the best education possible and helping them in any way possible to become productive citizens after their high school education is complete.
We need to keep in mind that these children are the future of our country and whether or not they have a disability, these are the people who will grow up to run the country that we live in. We owe it to these students to provide them with the best education we can give them.
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