From: http://www.educationnews.org/ An Interview with Suzanne Heath: About Parents, Laws and NCLB Monday, November 14, 2005 EducationNews.org Michael F. Shaughnessy Eastern New Mexico University Portales, New Mexico 88130 1) Parents are increasingly being confronted with No Child Left Behind, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, I.E.P.âs, ITPâs, IFSPâs and 504 Rules and Regulations. Is it my imagination or is the process of education becoming increasingly complex? The more you read the easier it gets. When a parent first enters the education process it takes a while to learn the system and the jargon. Every state has academic content standards. This is what the state has determined that every child needs to know and be able to do in each grade. For a child with a disability, unless there is an evaluation stating that a child has a significant cognitive disability and is not able to learn grade level material even with the âvery best instructionâ Federal Register December 9, 2003 http://www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/finrule/2003-4/120903a.pdf then the IEP team must develop a plan of specialized instruction to teach the material in the academic context standards to the child. The IEP must address functional goals as well as academic goals. An IEP must deliver a âfree appropriate public educationâ. Free appropriate public education.--The term âfree appropriate public educationâ means special education and related services that-- (A) have been provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge; (B) meet the standards of the State educational agency; (C) include an appropriate preschool, elementary, or secondary school education in the State involved; and (D) are provided in conformity with the individualized education program required under section 1414(d). (20 U.S.C. Â§1401 (9)) 2) Some children do not make AYP (Annual Yearly Progress) for a variety of reasons - divorce of parents, illness, hospitalization, and the like. What types of options do parents have? AYP (Annual Yearly Progress) refers to school, district, or state progress, not the progress of a child. There are many reasons that a child may not pass the stateâs tests of its academic content standards in any particular year. This may be because of the disruptions that you mention. It may be that the schoolâs curriculum is not aligned with the state academic content standards. It may be that the teacher did not teach the state curriculum. It may be that the child has learning problems that have not been diagnosed. Or other reasons. If parents see that their child is falling behind, and there does not seem to be a reason for it, they should write a letter to the principal and ask for a comprehensive educational evaluation of the child. This will give both the parents and the school information about the child that will help in getting him to grade level. 3) You are the Research Editor of Wrightslaw. What exactly is Wrightslaw and how can it help parents and teachers? Pam and Pete Wright began the Wrightslaw website and the Special Education Advocate Newsletter in the mid 1990âs. The information available on the website empowers individuals who have various roles in educating children. It provides information about research, documents, laws, and resources they need to advocate for children with disabilities. 4) What exactly is Title I and where does it fit into the big picture? NCLB has ten Titles, or sections of the law. When people talk about âTitle Iâ they are referring to grants authorized in Title I of the law. All states, 90% of school districts, and 60% of schools applied for and received Title I grants. The grants provide supplemental funds that recipients must use above and beyond the basic education they already provide. The grant money is supposed to be used to close the gap between disadvantaged students and their more advantaged peers. 5) I recently read an article in The Kentucky Enquirer on Sept 24th about parents being charged money to educate their gifted child. Can schools charge parents for special educational or gifted educational services? Special education services must be provided at no cost to the family. I am not familiar with the article you mention. 6) Are states currently fighting the Federal government about No Child Left Behind? As far as I know, it is only Connecticut. NCLB is a grant program. If a state does not want to be bound by the terms of the grant, they do not need to apply for the grant. It will be interesting to see how the court looks at this. 7) Do parents have the right to know if their son/daughterâs teacher is âhighly qualifiedâ? Under NCLB parents of children in Title I programs do. But parents in any school can let their school board know that they want that information available to them. It is the taxpayers and voters who have the final say in how their school district operates. 8) There seems to be a continual clash between those who advocate for âleast restrictive environmentâ and those who believe a âfree appropriate public educationâ is paramount. I hate to put you on the spot, but, what is your mind, and legally is most important.