Posted on December 3, 2004
WASHINGTON - Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) joined President Bush at the White House this morning for the signing of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The measure protects the educational rights of children with disabilities while making the law work for parents, teachers, administrators and school districts. "This is a good example of Congress working together in a bipartisan way. This is a complex bill that affects 6.5 million children with special needs across the country, 125,000 of them are in Tennessee," said Alexander from the White House. "My staff and I worked closely with Tennessee teachers, school board members and parents as we worked on this bill, which reflects their suggestions making this a better piece of legislation." Alexander, chairman of the Subcommittee on Children and Families, worked to ensure the bill included two specific provisions: · Clarifies the definition of a highly qualified teacher. This applies to special education teachers who teach multiple subjects and special education teachers who teach students taking alternative assessment. The highly qualified teacher definition is important because of No Child Left Behind. · Gives parents of young disabled children the option of keeping the child in his or her natural environment or enrolling him or her in a school run preschool program. This creates a seamless early childhood experience for young children who need special education and gives parents more choices in their child's care.