Casey Korthals

SPED 100

Professor Steinhoff-Muller

March 24, 2006

IDEA Essay 

            In 1975, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, EAHCA, was formed.  This act mandated free, appropriate public education for all children with disabilities from the ages of six through twenty-one; protected the rights of children with disabilities and their parents in educational decision making; required the development of an Individual Education Program, IEP, for each child with a disability; stated that students with disabilities must receive educational services in the Least Restrictive Environment.  Then in 1997, the EAHCA was restructured and named the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA.  There are six major principles to IDEA including:  Zero Reject, Nondiscriminatory Identification and Evaluation, Free, Appropriate Public Education, Least Restrictive Environment, Due Process Safeguards, and finally Parent and Student Participation and Shared Decision Making.

            Zero Reject states that schools must educate all children with disabilities.  This principle applies to all students no matter the severity of the disability.  As long as the child is between the ages of six and twenty-one they are guaranteed a free public education.  As an educator, I will encounter children with disabilities, some more severe than others, but no matter what I will have to give the child the education they deserve.

            Nondiscriminatory Identification and Evaluation requires that schools must use nonbiased, multicultural methods of evaluation to determine whether the child has a disability and, if so, whether or not the child shall receive special education.  For example, a child whose primary language is Spanish cannot be evaluated with an English test when they only know Spanish.  If they are tested in Spanish, and still qualify for special education than the proper accommodations will be made.  In the classroom, this is important because many children come from different backgrounds and/or cultures, and may require special education, but in order to determine this they must be tested in ways that are fair to them.

            Free, Appropriate Public Education states that all children with disabilities shall receive a free, appropriate public education at the public’s expense.  An IEP must be developed and put into practice for each student with a disability.  Every child between the ages of six to twenty-one qualifies for a free education no matter what their disability.  As an educator, I might encounter many families that feel that their lack of income is holding their children back from the education they deserve; however, this principle guarantees disabled children a free education until the age of twenty-one.

            Least Restrictive Environment, LRE, says that students with disabilities must be educated with children without disabilities, or in a regular classroom, to the maximum extent appropriate.  They should be removed to separate classes or schools only if the nature or severity of their disabilities is such that they cannot receive an appropriate education in a general education classroom.  Educators often encounter this principle.  Many students struggle with minor learning disabilities and do not need to be separated throughout the entire school day; therefore, they are educated in a regular classroom most of the time and then receive extra attention as needed.

            Due Process Safeguards say schools must provide due process safeguards to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their parents.  In other words, the parent’s and children’s rights are protected.  Educators must always keep the rights of the student and the parents in mind.

            Parent and Student Participation and Shared Decision Making is the last principle of IDEA.  This says that schools must collaborate with parents and with students with disabilities in the design and implementation of special education services.  Also meaning schools must involve both parents and students.  It is very important for educators to include not only the students in the decisions for their own well-being, but to also involve the parents.  The more involved the parents are the better likelihood the student will be successful in their school career and at life.

            In all, the Individual with Disabilities Education Act was created to enforce the fact that all students, including those with special needs, must be treated equally.  This act is broken into six components:  Zero Reject, Nondiscriminatory Identification and Evaluation, Free, Appropriate Public Education, Least Restrictive Environment, Due Process Safeguards, and lastly Parent and Student Participation and Shared Decision Making.  Each component better describes what actions must take place with children with special needs.  Educators should be well aware and properly informed of each principle therefore resulting for the best possible learning experience for the students.