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40th Anniversary of IDEA 1975~remind your legislators there is still work to be done!

On November 29, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed IDEA 1975 into law. Prior to IDEA 1975 taking effect, only 20% of children with disabilities were in the public school system. Most of the others were either institutionalized or being kept at home in a custodial care situation–parents taking care of them but they were not receiving an education. Since we at the 40th anniversary of this monumental legislation, I thought it was a good time to reflect on where we’ve come, and yet, how far we have to go. It’s also a great opportunity to call, email and tweet at your legislators and ask them to take action.

President Gerald Ford signed IDEA into law on November 29, 1975.

I’ve done two previous posts on the history of IDEA 1975 and how we got there. I am a history nerd so I love reading and talking about it, but I also think it is important for parents to understand how we got here. I strongly suggest you read them when you have time.

But, since we are at the 40th anniversary, we should not only reflect on how far we have come, but what work needs to be done. Because there is still much work to be done. For example:

That’s not progress. We are failing our kids and we are failing society. Despite being a law for 40 years, we have not changed outcomes. And it’s time to remind our legislators of that.

So, time for us to get to work as parents and teachers. We MUST speak up about this, we cannot let it continue. Yeah, our kids are in the public school system, but if we are not improving outcomes, what’s the point? Unless we demand change, it’s not going to change–hasn’t changed in 40 years!

Step 1: This is a federal issue, so contact your federal legislators. That is two Senators and one person from the House of Representatives. Use that link to find them.

Step 2: Plan a short email, most have a “Contact Us” form on their websites.

Dear XXXXXX,

I am a constituent who lives in {city, state} and am represented by you in Congress. As you are probably aware, this month marks the 40th anniversary of IDEA 1975–the monumental legislation that guaranteed children with disabilities a free and appropriate education. But, are you aware that despite being law for 40 years, we have done very little to change outcomes for these kids? People with disabilities still have astronomically high unemployment rates and make up a disproportionate part of prison populations. That has to change.

It’s time to fully fund IDEA 1975 at the 40% federal rate. Our schools are not being given the resources to be successful with our kids. We need more incentives for America’s businesses to hire people with disabilities. We need our state and community police departments to be better trained in identifying invisible disabilities like autism.

As a parent to a child who needs special education, this is a very important issue for me. In the past, (now retired) Senator Harkin and others have introduced legislation to fully fund IDEA but it never passed. Would you consider introducing such legislation? If it was introduced, would you support the legislation?

40 years have passed since President Ford signed IDEA into law. But, now it’s time for us to improve outcomes for kids with disabilities, which we have not done so far. I appreciate your attention in this matter.

Have a wonderful holiday season,

{name}

Step 3: Call them. Use the link above to find their office phone numbers. Call either your closest regional office (or stop in, if that is feasible) or the DC office and tell them the same message above.

Step 4: Tweet. If your legislators are on Twitter, it likely will be on their web page. So tag them, and then do a tweet something like:

This is about 100 characters: 40 yrs of IDEA 1975 and have not improved outcomes for ppl with disabilities. It’s time to change that.

Or you can just click retweet below and add in your names.

Thanks for your participation!

And this might help....

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