IDEA Reauthorization and The Special Ed Commission: Current Threats to the Rights of Children With AD/HD and Other Disabilities

In July, The President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education issued their report entitled, “A New Era: Revitalizing Special Education for Children and Their Families”. The Commission, which was created in October 2001 by President Bush to ultimately “recommend reforms to improve America’s special education system”, reported 9 findings and 3 major recommendations. While some of their findings are certainly valid, the Commission’s report in conjunction with The No Child Left Behind Act pose a threat to the rights of children with disabilities and their families. (The No Child Left Behind Act was signed in to law January 2, 2002.)

Currently IDEA is up for reauthorization even though IDEA ’97 hasn’t been fully implemented to date and its’ successes cannot be entirely judged. Among other things, the Commission’s report may very likely contribute to changes in eligibility categories, behavioral supports and protections, and a reduction in required paperwork and its’ safeguards. Numerous disability advocacy groups stress that changes in these areas will particularly affect children with mental health issues including AD/HD. The report does not address the need to fully fund IDEA.

During conference in Miami, a V.A.N. session is being held on Saturday, October 19 at which time Dr. Robert Pasternack, Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education Office for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), will be addressing the Department’s position on the reauthorization of IDEA. Matt Cohen will be responding with CHADD’s position. The moderated discussion will then be opened up for comment. This is an excellent opportunity for CHADD leaders and members to present their personal stories and have impact on the reauthorization process.

If you are passionate about this issue, are well versed in the issues, and are interested in the possibility of giving testimony, please contact Dina Dudarevitch ([email protected]) prior to or during conference. Individual statements will be no more than 3 minutes in length, so prepare accordingly. Written statements should focus on pertinent issues, successes experienced by your child or children due to IDEA, and written from the heart! Please include an appeal to protect and fully implement IDEA as currently written. It is extremely important that all adversarial contact is avoided.

Thank you, not only for your efforts on behalf of CHADD, but for the benefit of all children with disabilities.


1) “Looming Reauthorization Battle Threatens Rights of Kids with Disabilities Under IDEA ’97” by Matt Cohen; Attention! Magazine, August 2002.

2) “A New Era: Revitalizing Special Education for Children and Families”, The President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education.

3) CHADD Comments on the Recommendations of the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education (PCESE) for the Reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act / Letter to Mr. Thomas Irvin, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

4)  Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  (Previously the No Child Left Behind Act)

5) Join the CHADD V.A.N.-Volunteer Action Network