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Article: Guide To Civil Rights

Education Rights

Table of Contents
  1. Advocacy
  2. Policies and Initiatives
  3. Elder Rights
  4. Education Rights
  5. Employment Rights
  6. Healthcare Rights
  7. Housing Rights
  8. Transportation Rights
  9. Communication Rights
  10. Consumer Protection Rights
  11. Civil Rights Organizations
  12. Civil Rights Publications
  13. Civil Rights Protections
  14. Emergency Laws
  15. Community-Based Laws and Legislation

No Child Left Behind Act
School To Work Opportunity Act of 1994
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Section 504
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was introduced under the Bush administration. This legislation was an effort to ensure that all students, including those who are disadvantaged, achieve in school. It was designed to give parents more educational options for their children and educate them in a way that works best for them. There are four standards, on which the law operates:

  1. Testing to make sure goals are being met.
  2. Doing what works based on scientific research.
  3. More options for parents.
  4. More control and flexibility for local leaders

To hold to these standards the objectives of the law include:

  • Improving how well children from low-income families do in school. The federal government already funds the "Title I" program that provides extra support for students who go to schools where most of the student body are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunch. The No Child Left Behind Act increases the funding of this program.
  • Preparing, training and recruiting highly qualified teachers and principles. To be a "highly qualified" teacher one must (1) hold a bachelor's degree, (2) hold a certification or licensure to teach in the state where he or she is employed, (3) have proven knowledge of the subjects he or she teaches.
  • Language instruction for students who know little to none English. The No Child Left Behind Act increases funding for English language acquisition programs.
  • Giving parents choices. According to the No Child Left Behind Act, no child should be trapped in a poor school. If students attend "Title I" schools that do not make improvements for two years, they have the option to transfer to a higher performing school or charter school within their district.
  • Making the education system accountable. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, every state is required to develop a system to measure the progress of all students.
  • Making the system responsive to local needs. The No Child Left Behind Act provides flexibility of the funds so that states can use the money in programs where they think it is needed.
  • Helping all children learn to read. Under the No Child Left Behind Act states are given more funding for reading programs. The Reading First program, Early Reading First program, and the Striving Readers program are instituted to help every student read at their given grade level.

U.S. Department of Education
This federal site has an overview of the No Child Left Behind Act. It also has the annual educational budget proposal and the newest updates on the law.

A Parent's Guide to the No Child Left Behind Act
This guide includes frequently asked questions and answers about The No Child Left Behind Act.

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School To Work Opportunity Act of 1994

The School to Work Act was designed to create an efficient partnership between businesses and schools. The act uses federal funds to provide all students with opportunities to participate in programs that combine school and work-based learning, vocational and academic education and secondary and post-secondary education.

Education World
This article discusses the School to Work Opportunity Act and how it is working in different states.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Act was enacted in 1975 as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. It was recently revised in 1997 as IDEA. The newest revision is called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. This law was put into effect July 1, 2005. The goal of this legislation was to bridge the gap between what children with disabilities learn and what is required in regular classrooms. According to the law, the purpose of IDEA is to "ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living." [H.R. 1350]

IDEA outlines regulations and laws that determine who qualifies for special services. It identifies what those services and supports are as defined in the Individualized Education Program (IEP). Along with the IEP the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that students with disabilities be more involved in the general curriculum. It also allows for necessary accommodations (allowances) and modifications (changes).

The 2004 law discusses the federal government's responsibility for the growing needs of our society. Those who wrote the law are concerned with the growing group of minority students with limited English abilities. The law calls for actions and provisions to better accommodate those students. There have also been some minor changes in the law so that it conforms more fully to the No Child Left Behind Act. The law now outlines the qualifications for a "highly qualified" teacher in special education according to the No Child Left Behind Act.

Another part of the 2004 law is the reduction of paperwork. This is evident in amendments to how the IEP (Individualized Education Program) is created and maintained

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
This site contains information regarding the history of IDEA along with the most recent updates on the law.

Wrights Law
This site explains and compares the 1997 and 2004 laws. It includes articles concerning changes in the IEP as related to the 2004 law. Changes to the requirements for "highly qualified" special education teachers are also identified.

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Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act was enacted in 1973. It was an effort to "level the playing field" for persons with disabilities. The law was intended to prevent the discrimination of disabled persons who receive federal financial assistance, in public and private programs and activities.

Section 504 is often confused with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). However, there are differences between the two laws.

Section 504 and IDEA-Basic Similarities and Differences
This article discusses the similarities and differences between Section 504 and IDEA.

Kidsourceonline is a recognized resource for families and educators of persons with disabilities. The website provides a basic overview of Section 504 (and ADA and IDEA).

FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) states that parents have the right to access their child's educational records. If they feel that any part of their child's record is inaccurate, they have the right to petition for a correction of the record.

FERPA also maintains that schools cannot disclose any information about a student without the written permission of the child's parents.

This act has a great impact on special education. Parents of children with disabilities have often been unaware of any mistakes in their child's records. However, with the passage of FERPA, parents can now monitor their child's progress.

U.S. Department of Education
This site gives readers a detailed explanation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and compliance information.

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Inclusion is the term used when students with disabilities attend the same school or class as their peers who do not have disabilities. The term inclusion is often interchanged with the term "mainstreaming" but there are some significant differences. Mainstreaming is the forerunner to inclusion. In 1975, Congress passed the Mainstreaming Act which mandated that disabled children had to attend regular classes for either part of or all of the school day. Previously, disabled students were placed in classrooms with peers who were on their same intellectual level but not necessarily within the same age group.

Mainstreaming infers that disabled children "earn" their way into regular education classes. They do this by mastering the subjects in a certain grade level so they could "keep up" with the rest of the class. Along with this idea of mainstreaming, students are taught the core subjects in a self-contained classroom while attending non-academic general education courses like physical education, music, and art.

Mainstreaming is still a prevalent philosophy in special education and continues to be used today. However, increasing in popularity is the idea of inclusion. In an inclusive environment, children with disabilities are placed in a class with peers of their same age. Accommodations are made by the teacher and in the curriculum to allow the student to have the same educational experience as the rest of the students in their class. Inclusion only requires that the child will benefit from being in the class. In an inclusive environment, services for students with disabilities are offered in their classroom.

Inclusion is a controversial topic among educators and parents. Many feel that the ideals, values, and goals of inclusion do not fit with the realities of today's classrooms. Those who favor inclusion feel that the general education classroom will be able to accommodate all students with disabilities, even those with severe and multiple disabilities. They also feel that through full inclusion students can obtain educational and social benefits. Those who oppose full inclusion argue that the traditional classroom size and resources are often inadequate for accommodating students with disabilities without producing adverse effects on all of the students in the classroom.

Federal laws that govern the education of children with disabilities do not necessarily require inclusion. However, the law does require that to "the maximum extent appropriate" children with disabilities should be educated with their peers who are not disabled in the "least restrictive environment" possible. To review the laws that govern the education of children with disabilities refer to the following resources:

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Section 504. See also Guide to Civil Rights: Section 504

Much has been written about the benefits and disadvantages of inclusive education and how to achieve an inclusive environment. Listed below are links that provide insight into all of the aspects of inclusion.

LD Online
This site contains answers to frequently asked questions on inclusion and learning disabilities. It discusses both the advantages and disadvantages of inclusion in the public schools.

Down Syndrome Online
Find various resources and publications for individuals who have downs syndrome.

Inclusion: Has It Gone Too Far?
This article discusses how inclusion could possibly be a barrier for a child with disabilities.

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Last Updated on 1/22/2016