Future Reflections Winter/Spring 1991

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Editor's Note: The following two articles are reprinted from the Winter, 1990 issue of Counterpoint, a publication of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Incorporated.


President Bush October 30 signed into law the Education of the Handicapped Act Amendments of 1990, changing the name of the EHA to "Individuals with Disabilities Education Act." The amendments, now Public Law 101-476, 104 Stat. 1103, reauthorize Parts C through G of the IDEA through fiscal year 1994. U.S. Secretary of Education Lauro Cavazos praised the newly enacted Education of the Handicapped Act Amendments of 1990 for recognizing the complex needs of a changing population of students with disabilities.

"The 1975 Education of the Handicapped Act guaranteed that students with disabilities would receive a free and appropriate public education—an opportunity to become independent and participate fully in society. The measure signed into law by President Bush October 30 extends that guarantee to protect the future of more children." Cavazos said.

"The new law also includes many significant improvements, such as programs to promote research and technology and transition programs to help students succeed after high school."

Cavazos also cited new initiatives in the law to address the needs of "crack babies" born to drug-abusing mothers, and to reach ethnically and culturally diverse children. He noted that an estimated 4.6 million children received special education services during the 1989-90 school year.

A Little Getting Used To

In comments on the Senate floor when the Senate approved the conference report on the EHA amendments, Senator Paul Simon (D-IL) noted that the name change will take a little getting used to. "Some of us who have worked for years in this area may need some time to adjust to referring to the IDEA rather than the EHA." Simon said.

"But it is not insignificant that we move away from terminology that focuses on a condition rather than a person. As we did in passing the Americans with Disabilities Act, we are recognizing the individual first. This is particularly appropriate in the IDEA since its educational services are designed to meet the needs of the individual."


The Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education expects to publish in mid-February regulations for the changes in the Education of the Handicapped Act that became law September 30.

After a period for public comment through March/April, OSEP will publish final regulations in June or July. The regs will become effective 90 days after publication.

According to the Deputy Director of OSEP, Bill Wolf, at least five substantive regulations requiring public comment will be published. Among them are proposed definitions for autism and traumatic brain injury, categories of disability that Congress has added to the law.

OSEP will also define the terms "assistive technology devices" and "rehabilitation counseling", which have been added to the law. Wolf also noted that current definitions of "special education" may not be broad enough to include transition services now required by the law.

Wolf also said that data requirements for the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development will be open to comment, and OSEP will publish selection criteria for new research and demonstration programs now authorized under services to deaf-blind children. There will also be selection criteria for proposals under a new program for seriously emotionally disturbed children.

Wolf pointed out that the new law required that one percent of all discretionary funds must be used for outreach to minorities, and OSEP will announce —at least one funding priority in this area. By the new law, all applicants for funds in all discretionary programs must cite specific actions they are taking to address the needs of minorities.

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