Box 113, Williamsport, PA 17701 Phone: 570-323-2050    Fax: 570-323-2051

Legislative Update

A Time to Step up to the Plate
By Ted Kozlik, NAPSA Legislative and Public Policy Advisor
Beleaguered by property, income, sales and hidden taxes, our educational system is once again facing the political wrath of voters, the unfulfilled promises of elected officials and creation of an environment that pits the needs of students in regular education programs against students requiring special education and support services to achieve meaningful educational benefit.
Fortunately or not, special education programs and support services now range in breath and scope for our children from providing custodial/residential care to those who are one step away from attending an Ivy University or any college of choice. Try to place yourself “in the shoes” of any parent of a child with an overt or hidden disability. It is not an easy walk! Virtually all parents and their children have a dream, hope and vision for the future. Parents with severe or mildly disabled children also have a vision, dream and aspirations for their sons and daughters. While there is a significant price tag, there is a nobility and sense of pride to do what is “right for kids” while positively impacting learning and experiences for generations to come.
There is relative consistency among our legal presenters across the country regarding the interpretation of IDEA 2004 and the 2006 regulations. However, there is a lack of realism, knowledge of performance variation on educational assessments at the federal level, and as Rothstein, Jacobsen and Wilder aver, “proficiency for all” under NCLB is an oxymoron. “No matter how well intentioned, States cannot perform psychometric miracles that are beyond the reach of federal experts”. There are admirable qualities of NCLB and the intertwining of IDEIA 2004; however, it is time to return to the drawing board to address the closing of achievement gaps among all racial/ethnic groups and carefully examining variation between socioeconomic and disabled groups. The goals of NCLB/ESEA and IDEIA 2004 are laudable, but psychometrically and pragmatically flawed.
Toward this end, NAPSA has signed on with the FEA (Forum and Educational Accountabiity) to support positive changes to NCLB/ESEA. We are long time members of N A PSO (National Association of Pupil Services Organization); we have been actively involved with the IDEA Partnership and we are avidly working with Adelman and Taylor from the UCLA School Mental Health Project to address the requisite supports needed for all children and teachers to succeed.
It is time (long overdue) for us to move forward in a unified manner to advance the learning, achievement and equity interests for all our children! This can only be achieved through ardent work, passion, scholarly inquiry and practice, intellectual rigor and integrity while marshalling the political and funding resources necessary to support all learners. Please feel free to email me at tkozlik@westfieldnjk12.org for comments and/or questions.