APA Recognizes the 35th Anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

November 29, 2010 marked the 35th anniversary of the enactment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act also known as IDEA.  PI-GRO has worked with our colleagues in the disability and education communities to advocate for a free appropriate education for individuals with disabilities.  Prior to the creation of IDEA, close to 4 million children with disabilities were denied appropriate access to public education.  Many children were denied entry into public school altogether, while others were placed in segregated classrooms, or in regular classrooms without adequate support for their special needs.

In response to pressure from parents and advocacy organizations, Congress enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA).  This act, which was signed into law in 1975 by President Gerald Ford, outlined the educational rights of special needs students.  This landmark legislation was one of the first of its kind to require equal access for children with disabilities in school, and to mandate appropriate education for students with disabilities.  In 1990, EHA was renamed as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 

Estimates suggest that over 6 million children have benefited from IDEA since its enactment.  A majority of children with disabilities are now able to be educated in their neighborhood public schools, and graduation and employment rates for children with disabilities have increased.  IDEA provides children with the assistance they need to succeed both academically, and in life.

PI-GRO applauds the House of Representatives for recently passing a resolution (H.Con.Res. 329) in recognition of the 35 anniversary of IDEA.  PI-GRO is proud to recognize the important role of IDEA in the lives of children with disabilities.  As we prepare for the upcoming reauthorization of IDEA in the 112th Congress, PI-GRO looks forward to working with policymakers to support and enhance this important law.