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October 12, 2005 Extra Credit
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October 12, 2005

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An "Effective Tool" For Students With Disabilities

The following excerpts are from a recent article in The Washington Post (10-11-05):

"Ricki Sabia began volunteering to help children with disabilities when she was in high school on Long Island. She went to college at Georgetown University and law school at the University of Maryland. When her second son, Stephen, was born in 1992 with Down Syndrome, her youthful interest became a major focus of her life. She tried to do what she could to improve services for children with disabilities in Montgomery County, MD, where she lived with Stephen; her older son, David; and her husband, Peter, a cardiologist.

"It was often a struggle and led her to appreciate an unexpected ally, the federal No Child Left Behind law….

"For Sabia, now associate director of the National Down Syndrome Society Public Policy Center, and other parents, the law was an effective tool precisely because it forced educators to try to do difficult things that, before the law, they could easily let slide….

"When No Child Left Behind took effect, it had little impact on Sabia or her son because he already had access to regular classes and highly qualified teachers with high expectations. ‘However,’ Sabia said, ‘I recognized that NCLB would institutionalize a process that would promote all these things for students with disabilities, whether or not their parents were in the position to advocate for them through IDEA.’

"‘This is critically important,’ she said. ‘…The opportunities [Stephen] has had will hopefully become commonplace under NCLB and then people will see that many kids with DS and other significant disabilities can learn and achieve much more than previously believed….

"‘The biggest impact of NCLB may be a revolution in the way we talk about education for students with disabilities,’ she said. ‘The standard has always been an appropriate education which provides some minimal benefit or progress on IEP goals. We only heard "world class" or "state of the art" applied to general education. With NCLB, school systems will have to start applying those terms to students with disabilities if they are not to be left behind.’"

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Last Modified: 08/14/2013