Federal File

October 09, 2002 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Wait Till Next Year

Lawmakers will not tackle the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act until next year.

This is not a shocking statement. But hearing it said on the record is a bit startling.

Political observers have figured for months that lawmakers would be too busy to rewrite the nation’s special education law in what remains of the 107th Congress. Pressing issues loom: Iraq, homeland security, and appropriations for fiscal 2003. Not to mention lengthy recesses for the upcoming elections and Thanksgiving before this cohort of lawmakers permanently decamps a few days before Christmas.

Nonetheless, last week was the first time a spokesman for either the Senate or House education committee would admit that the legislation is an IDEA whose time has not come.

“We are working on a bipartisan basis even on controversial issues like discipline,” said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “We will take it up next year.”

The tone of discussions about the IDEA has changed dramatically on Capitol Hill in recent months.

Tempers had flared over issues such as special education funding and the discipline of students with disabilities during the hearings last year leading up to the overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

It looked as if Democrats and Republicans were poised for a special education showdown—and soon. The House and Senate education committees had been vehement that they would get to the IDEA this year.

Then something changed. Lobbyists speculate that lawmakers enjoyed the praise and success brought on by their bipartisan cooperation on the ESEA, which they reauthorized in the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001. Maybe they saw they could work well together.

Whatever their reasons, members of Congress have apparently been quietly hammering out compromises on even the most contentious issues surrounding the reauthorization of the IDEA. On the discipline issue, for instance, lawmakers are said to be edging toward adding “bodily harm” to the narrow list of school offenses that can cause a special education student to be suspended or expelled.

But Bruce Hunter, a lobbyist for the American Association for School Administrators, said he thinks that term may too vague and require further defining language.

— Lisa Fine Goldstein


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
How to Leverage Virtual Learning: Preparing Students for the Future
Hear from an expert panel how best to leverage virtual learning in your district to achieve your goals.
Content provided by Class
English-Language Learners Webinar AI and English Learners: What Teachers Need to Know
Explore the role of AI in multilingual education and its potential limitations.
Education Webinar The K-12 Leader: Data and Insights Every Marketer Needs to Know
Which topics are capturing the attention of district and school leaders? Discover how to align your content with the topics your target audience cares about most. 

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: September 20, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education From Our Research Center What's on the Minds of Educators, in Charts
Politics, gender equity, and technology—how teachers and administrators say these issues are affecting the field.
1 min read
Stylized illustration of a pie chart
Traci Daberko for Education Week
Education Briefly Stated: August 30, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: August 23, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read