DeVos Doesn’t know what IDEA Is, Do You?

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El Buchanan Social Media Editor In the recent Senate committee hearings, Betsy DeVos, who is a candidate for the Secretary of Education, was questioned about IDEA which refers to the Individual with Disabilities Education Act. She stated that it is “an issue to be left up to the states.” Senator Margaret Wood Hassan then corrected her, saying it was federal law, she responded saying, “I may have confused it.” Did you know that before 1975, if you had an intellectual disability you could be barred from going to school? The Individual with Disabilities Education Act of 1975 (IDEA) changed everything for the fight for inclusion of all children in public schools. IDEA ensures that children with disabilities have the opportunity to receive an appropriate public education, just like all other children. It has been revised many times over the years and regulates how each state provides their services to children with disabilities. The act requires that all students are given the same opportunities and resources no matter their ability. This act does not affect Latin in any way, shape, or form. Latin does not accept kids with intellectual disabilities for a number of reasons, but for a progressive school, we do not talk about this group nearly enough. There are more than 400,000 people living with Down Syndrome in the U.S. alone, but many students at Latin have never even talked to a person with disabilities, let alone someone with Down Syndrome. IDEA affects students with disabilities ranging from Autism to someone with Dyslexia. While the act does not affect Latin students, it affects students nationwide that have any kind of intellectual or physical disability. It needs to be both advocated for and protected. There are countless ways to advocate for kids with intellectual disabilities, and knowing what IDEA is, is a great start. Students can join Best Buddies, volunteer at Misericordia, stop saying the R-word, or just be aware that there is a group of marginalized people who have the right to have a good education, just like you and me. In the end, DeVos came out with a letter stating her position on IDEA. She says, “I believe that all students, including individuals with disabilities, deserve an equal opportunity to lead full, productive and successful lives.” Inclusion activists still criticize her, but hopefully her policies will uphold this historic and important act.]]>