The Book of Ron Paul
1997 Ron Paul Chapter 32

Individuals With Disabilities Education Act Amendments Of 1997

13 May 1997

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Congressional Record (Page H2540)   Cached

1997 Ron Paul 32:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to oppose H.R. 5, the Individuals with Disabilities Reauthorization Act of 1997 [IDEA], I oppose this bill as strong supporter of doing all possible to advance the education of persons with disabilities. However, I do not think that a huge bureaucracy is the best way to educate disabled children. Parents and local communities know their children so much better than any Federal bureaucrat, and they can do a better job of meeting a child’s needs than we in Washington. There is no way that the unique needs of my grandchildren, and some young boy or girl in Los Angeles, CA or New York City can be educated by some sort of “Cookie Cutter” approach.

1997 Ron Paul 32:2
At a time when Congress should be returning power and funds to the States, IDEA increases Federal control over education. According to the Congressional Budget Office Federal expenditures on IDEA will reach over May 13, 1997 $20 billion by the year 2002. This flies in the face of many Members’ public commitment to place limits on the scope of the Federal bureaucracy.

1997 Ron Paul 32:3
H.R. 5 imposes significant costs on State governments and localities. For example, the new bill requires one regular education teacher to take part in each individual education plan [IEP]. According to certain education experts, this could require as many as 10 to 15 teachers be present at each IEPO meeting. This bill also requires States to include disabled students in all statewide assessments by 1998 and develop alternatives for students unable to participate in the regular exams by the year 2000. According to the National Association of State Boards of Education [NASBE], this mandate will increase assessment costs by 12 percent.

1997 Ron Paul 32:4
NASBE’s May 9 letter to Congress identifies several other provisions in H.R. 5 that will impose new financial burdens on the States. I ask that the letter be read into the Record.

1997 Ron Paul 32:5
As I see Members of Congress applaud the imposition of more mandates on States, I cannot help but think of a letter I received from the high school principal asking for some relief from Federal mandates imposed on her by laws like IDEA. I would ask all my colleagues to consider whether we are truly aiding education by imposing new mandates or just making it more difficult for hard-working, education professionals like this principal to properly educate our children?

1997 Ron Paul 32:6
The major Federal mandate in IDEA is that disabled children be educated in the least restrictive setting. In other words, this bill makes mainstreaming the Federal policy. Many children may thrive in a mainstream classroom environment, however, I worry that some children may be mainstreamed solely because school officials believe it is required by Federal law, even though the mainstream environment is not the most appropriate for that child.

1997 Ron Paul 32:7
On May 10, 1994, Dr. Mary Wagner Testified before the Education Committee that disabled children who are not placed in a mainstream classrooms graduate from high school at a much higher rate than disabled children who are mainstreamed. Dr. Wagner quite properly accused Congress of sacrificing children to ideology.

1997 Ron Paul 32:8
Mr. Speaker, it is time to stop sacrificing children on the alter of ideology. Every child is unique and special. Given the colossal failure of Washington’s existing interference, it is clear that all children will be better off when we get Washington out of their classroom and out of their parents’ pocketbooks. I therefore urge my colleagues to cast a vote for constitutionally limited government and genuine compassion by opposing H.R. 5.

1997 Ron Paul 32:9
National Association of State Boards of Education, Alexandria, VA, May 9, 1997.

1997 Ron Paul 32:10
Dear Representative: The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) is a private nonprofit association representing state and territorial boards of education. We are writing to express our opposition to the changes made to the state set-aside formula in the compromise agreement on the individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

1997 Ron Paul 32:11
Under the new legislation, the state share is capped at the FY97 level, with all future increases equal to the rate of inflation or the federal appropriations increase—whichever is less. This new formula also applies to the state’s 5% administration reserve. This limit, especially as applied to state administration, will place severe burdens on already strained state education budgets and will result in an enormous federally unfunded mandate.

1997 Ron Paul 32:12
IDEA is a highly prescriptive law requiring vigilant state monitoring and evaluation to ensure disabled students are receiving all appropriate educational services. The new mandates will create even more administrative and oversight responsibilities for state education agencies (SEAs), while at the same time significantly decreasing the federal funds necessary to carry out such functions. Because of the artificial limits placed on the states’ administrative share, the excess costs of administering the programs, distributing grants and ensuring local education agency (LEA) compliance with the law will be borne solely by the SEA.

1997 Ron Paul 32:13
In addition, the proposed legislation directs the states to implement the following new programs: (1) Include disabled students in all state-wide assessments by 1998 and to develop alternatives for students unable to participate in regular exams by the year 2000. (At the very least, this mandate will increase state assessment costs by 12%, the national average of disabled students in the general school population); (2) Establish and operate a mediation system for use by LEAs and parents; (3) Develop and implement state performance goals and indicators for disabled students.

1997 Ron Paul 32:14
The states are responsible for all of the costs incurred by creating and maintaining the above programs. The federal government is providing absolutely no new financial assistance to help offset these expenses.

1997 Ron Paul 32:15
The reduction of the state set-aside severely undermines the historic federal, state and local partnership and 20-year old costsharing arrangement that have worked so well in delivering a free, appropriate public education to disabled students. We urge you to amend the IDEA compromise agreement by allowing funding increases of up to 5% annually for state administration.

1997 Ron Paul 32:16
Sincerely, Brenda L. Welburn, Executive Director.


1997 Ron Paul Chapter 32

The text of this chapter was inserted as an extension of remarks in Congressional Record but was not spoken on the House floor.

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