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Executive director's report.

This issue of Networking focuses heavily on the education reform measure, promoted by the current administration, known as AMERICA 2000. The NPND national office has been tracking these reforms through administrative evolution and Congress. This movement is not a flash in the pan or merely campaign rhetoric. It is going to be with us for some time. As you read in Dr. Davila's article, these reforms are expressed through the establishment of six educational goals and a grass roots planning process to implement these goals at the local level. Frankly, there has been concern amongst parents of children with disabilities that this movement was merely a smoke screen through which the protections of IDEA could be elimated. There was no rhetoric about doing away with these protections that raised concerns; it was the apparent of AMERICA 2000 that raised concerns.

In recent weeks a variety of communications and congressional actions appear to be reassuring us that the protections of IDEA, indeed the IDEA itself, will be left intact and hence remain the law of the land. In a conversation with the Director of the New American Schools Corporation, the non-profit entity established to raise private funds to finance many of the envisioned reforms, Washington-based disability advocates were assured that when AMERICA 2000 refers to all children, it means ALL children. In a speech at the recent national TAPP meeting, Deputy Secretary of Education David Kearns echoed these sentiments. By over-whelmingly passing Senate Bill #2 (legislation authorizing public funding for AMERICA 2000 reforms), IDEA was specifically declared exempt for the deregulation language in the bill as well as any other provisions of the Vocational Education Act that refers to IDEA or is based on Section 504 protections. In essence, the protections for which we have all fought so hard and long have been left intact. Be assured that NPND will continue to monitor and report the progress of this movement in Washington.

It is important to realize, however, that the real action of this movement is occurring not in Washington, but at the grass roots, local community level. As you know with IDEA, what's written in the federal law and what happens at the local level can be seemingly quite different. Just as before, local vigilance, tenacity and perseverance will be the keys to realizing the promise of a new level of inclusion we have only dreamed of. Your vigilance and energy will make the difference. Here is a brief list of the tasks that must be accomplished at the local level:

* Each statement (39 at time of writing) has a designated contact for AMERICA 2000 activities. If you don't know who to contact, call NPND at (703) 684-6763.

* If your state has not, as yet, identified an AMERICA 2000 contact, work to get a parent of a child with a disability to be that person.

* Once you understand the process and activities in your state and/ or community, vigorously participate. As with other things, it will not be surprising if, after the flow fades, a few hardworking parents mold what will happen in your community. Make sure that children with disabilities are represented in that core group of parents and professionals.

Be assured that NPND is representing the views of parents of children with disabilities in meetings with officials working on all phases of AMERICA 2000 here in Washington. Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander, produces a five-minute national conference call each working day at 11:55 a.m. that discusses various issues relating to AMERICA 2000. Thus far, two of these calls addressed disability issues. To listen to these daily presentations, call (202) 736-2300.

Legislative Update

According to Senate staffers, the reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Services Act is on a fast track. Three hearings will be held with the first occurring on February 20, 1992. It is anticipated that a bill will be introduced by early summer with passage occurring during the fall of 1992.

On January 26, 1992 major portions of the Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect. This is the most sweeping legislation dealing with the rights of people with disabilities ever passed by the U.S. Congress. The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, through a U.S. Department of Justice grant, has established a toll-free telephone service to provide technical assistance to businesses, state and local government entities, persons with disabilities and their advocates on the ADA. The toll-free number is operational from 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Pacific time. Spanish speaking staff is available. The number is (800) 466-4ADA (Voice/TDD).

On January 28, 1992 Senate Bill #2 passed by a nearly unanimous vote. This bill provided the necessary legislative language to allow for the establishment of "break the mold" schools by offering states waivers to Federal regulations in the area of education. It is important to note that IDEA and any part of the Vocational Education Act that flows from IDEA or Section 504 are specifically exempted from this legislation. Hence, IDEA is still in full effect in spite of the deregulation waivers of this bill. Also, the number of "break the mold" schools authorized by this legislation was significantly reduced.
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Title Annotation:Annual Mobility Guide for Parents of Children and Adolescents; Networking
Author:Smith, Patricia McGill
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Date:Mar 1, 1992
Previous Article:Families and America 2000.
Next Article:America 2000: a chance to unite all parents.

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