PCPID Quarterly Meeting: September 26–27, 2011
President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities
- The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID)
- Announcements, Meeting Announcements, Publication (Documents and Resources), Meeting Minutes
- Meeting Minutes, Meeting Announcement
Jane West, Ed.D., Political Advocacy Consultant, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and Higher Education Consortium for Special Education
Dr. Jane West commenced a discussion of education by outlining the meaning of education policy affecting students with intellectual disability. First she summarized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, $14.8 Billion. This program is often known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which was the current iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, on the radar screen for Congress and for this Administration in terms of reform. The President held an event at the White House Friday, announcing changes in NCLB, which he proposed through waivers to states. Waivers were important for students with IDD, as they were included in the assessment and accountability system under ESEA. That has been a very significant policy shift over the last decade, and there has been a lot of gain to students with IDD, from that shift.
Second, Dr. West discussed the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), part B, the state grant program, about $11.5 Billion. The federal government promised, when this was enacted 35 years ago, to pay for 40 percent of the cost of educating students with IDD. It currently at 17 percent and a perennial challenge to get up to where it should be.
Third, she noted that the IDEA pre-school program, is at $374 Million. The infant and toddlers program is at 439 Million. Transition programs didn't have their own set of funding, which made them vulnerable. The funding came through IDEA, the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, many of the state DD services, Medicaid, and Social Security. She also discussed the Pell Grant programs, which provided scholarships to low-income college students. For the first time, there was eligibility for students with ID who were in approved programs in higher education for scholarships to low-income college students. Lastly, was the model Individuals with Disabilities demonstration programs in higher education, S11Million, which Mrs. Shriver initiated.
She followed with a discussion of the Core foundational values in education. Equal access and zero rejection, Dr. West listed first, stating IDEA was founded on those principles. Next, she cited full inclusion, integral to school programming, including accountability and assessment. Equal access to general education was third, with need for improving capacity of general educators to work with students with ID. Fourth, was high expectations. Students with ID want the same outcomes that all students want: post-secondary education, employment, and independence.
Afterwards, she discussed the risks including: budget cuts at the federal and state level such as teacher lay-offs, which impacts class size and makes a difference in terms of teachers' willingness to address students that have ID; tuition increases in higher education; early learning and transition services; ESEA reauthorization, risks with the waivers or the potential for schools described as successful with some of their subgroups such as students with IDD; concerns over the 1% and 2% cap; threat of being marginalized; skilled teachers; IDEA; maintenance of effort waivers; and sustainability of Pell Grants.
Subsequently, she identified opportunities like Charter schools as bipartisan components of ESEA reauthorization. She stated that legislation passed the House that strengthens the provisions related to students with IDD. Typically, students with IDD were not included or were in charter schools, only for students with IDD. This is a popular reform strategy, but what does it mean for the kids with ID. The current budget climate requires a grassroots activism, making sure students are part of the equation: strengthen teacher skills; universal design; improve the 1% & 2%; growth models; enact restraint and seclusion legislation; educate the public and congress concerning progress; strengthen implementation of post-secondary programs for students with ID; prepare for IDEA reauthorization.
Dr. West concluded with a discussion on the potential economic impact of policy and funding changes. She reported that students with IDD would be less prepared in terms of the outcomes for post-secondary education and work and would become less independent. She noted that increasing the SSI rolls might result in fewer taxpayers and increased dependence on family. Finally, consolidation cuts and investing in capacity were needed where students with IDD should be included, and a federal role of equity and access to opportunity was important.
Gary Blumenthal, asked Jane West how she evaluated the effectiveness of the federal government in monitoring states' compliance with inclusion. Regardless of the administration, the discussion had been the same for the past 30 years. Dr. West agreed with Mr. Blumenthal. However, she noted that, because the role existed, there is potential for some kind of bar that, theoretically could be pushed.
Answering Carol Quirk's question on teacher, preparation, Ms. West stated that ESEA and IDEA do have a lot to do with teacher preparation because they define what a highly qualified and effective teacher looks like. That drove the skills with which teachers were prepared. State certification was the other key role in the skills that teachers attained. University preparation programs were aligned with state certification. The shift to promotion of inclusion implied a shift in the special educator’s role.
Carol Quirk explained that she partnered with universities and heard the need to prepare teachers across states for their realistic roles in segregated school systems. Dr. West agreed.
Carol followed-up with a question: how could universities be cutting-edge and produce leaders, if they didn’t change teacher preparation? Dr. West responded that it was a push-pull relationship, where universities felt pressure. For example, New York City had a separate district for students with IDD and had one program, Teachers' College, preparing people for inclusive settings, which they did not have. There was push in teacher preparation to train them for the real world and for a new world. She suggested investing in programs partnering with K-12 districts and studying the effect.
Mark Gross asked why the federal government should enforce this area instead of the local school districts. Dr. West replied that the federal role had asserted itself as protecting inclusion. Ms. West indicted that throughout the US history, many people have had to fight their way into schools. Susan Ramirez added that, as a parent of a child with ID, she believes that advocacy at the local and grassroots levels is important in the area of education. Ann Hardiman added that getting jobs after any educational experience is also vital to this target population.