IDEA serves “a rising share of students with an expanding list of ever-less-severe disabilities,” she writes.
Due process protections have fostered adversarial relations between parents and educators and endless litigation. Combined pressures of paperwork, lawsuits, and high-cost placements build a spirit of resentment about the law in many places. While many children clearly benefit from IDEA, many others are ill-served, with negative results for both general and special education.
Among the reforms are provisions to use some money to help students before they fall so behind they’re labeled “learning disabled.” The law also lets state define learning disabilities, instead of assuming that any child who’s fallen behind must be disabled. State will be required to set goals for improving achievement of disabled students. The law tries to reduce paperwork and encourage mediation rather than litigation. Administrators would have “more leeway to remove disruptive youngsters from the classroom while continuing to provide services to them.” While the funding isn’t as good as it should be, Mead writes, “the bill requires states to set aside a percentage of IDEA funds to serve students with exceptionally costly disabilities, freeing local school districts from the burden of absorbing these rare but burdensome costs.”