Congress is in the midst of negotiating the new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the main legislation authorizing federal funding and rules for public schools across the country. Senator Alexander and Senator Murray (D-W), the Ranking Member on the Committee, are negotiating changes to the bill. Many Members of Congress do not understand the impact these changes would have on students with disabilities and they need to hear directly from their constituents.
Three parts of the bill threaten quality education and the future of students with disabilities:
1) Allowing an unlimited number of students with disabilities to be diverted from pursuing a high school diploma;
2) Lowering standards for teaching children with disabilities, thereby making them not ready for any post-secondary education and entry level jobs;
3) Making it easier for school districts to overrule parents and place their children with disabilities on track to receive a lower quality education.
To keep protections in place for children and youth with disabilities and to keep expectations high and keep open their opportunities in the future, tell your senator:
- that you have great expectations for children with disabilities and that you want schools to have those same high expectations.
- that students with disabilities should have the equal opportunity to earn a high school diploma and quality for a job
- that the decision to remove a child from the general education curriculum that will allow him or her to graduate with a high school diploma shouldn’t be happening without parental permission;
- that you oppose any revision to ESEA that allows for unlimited numbers of students to be assessed using an alternate assessment;
- that research tells us that less than 1% of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities need alternate assessments; and
- that no more than 1% students should be tested with an alternate assessment so that as many students as possible can earn a high school diploma, a chance to go on for further education, and the opportunity to work.
The reauthorization of ESEA is happening fast – purposely fast so that we don’t have time to oppose! Senator Alexander’s version could be very harmful to the future of children with disabilities. Your senators need to hear from you now about the issues above and that you OPPOSE the bill as it is currently written.
HERE’S HOW TO TAKE ACTION:
Call your Senators:
- Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for the office of your Senators
Message: “I am calling to ask Senator _________ to oppose Sen. Alexander’s version of the reauthorization of ESEA and to make sure any reauthorization of ESEA includes all students with disabilities in the assessment and accountability systems using the same standards and assessments with accommodations. Students with disabilities can achieve, they can work, they can contribute to society, and they can go on to college and other education programs after high school. Don’t limit them by having low expectations and tracking their future as early as third grade. Limit the ability of schools to lower expectations for children with disabilities by limiting the use of lower standards and alternate assessments. Senator Alexander’s draft bill puts the future of children with disabilities at risk. Please oppose Senator Alexander’s bill and keep the expectations for my child as high as possible.”
You can also send a message to your senator at:http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm