Gives parents and teachers more flexibility

Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today announced the Senate passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) conference report.    “I’m pleased that the Senate approved the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act,” said Frist.  “This legislation bridges politics to reach the shared goal of ensuring all children receive a quality education.  This legislation will ensure that the special education needs of 6.5 million children, including more than 13 percent of Tennessee public school students, continue to be met.”
“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 on the Senate floor. “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.”
The measure protects the educational rights of children with disabilities while making the law work for parents, teachers, administrators and school districts.  
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/her natural environment or enrolling him/her in a half-day 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.
With House approval yesterday and Senate passage last night, the bill now goes to the President for his signature to become law.

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