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Statement from Stephen Bennett, President and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy, on the Reauthorization of IDEA

(Washington, DC) As he signed the Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) on December 3, President George W. Bush said, All of us understand we have an obligation to make sure no child is left behind in America.

The reauthorized special education law, while not perfect, is true to the Presidents promise. The law will significantly improve monitoring and enforcement of IDEA, including sanctions against states that violate the law.

Other key gains for students and families include alternate assessments, positive behavioral supports, school-to-life transition programs, access to assistive technology, and personnel standards for educators.

Though the law weakens the ability of families to challenge schools on the appropriateness of their childs education, IDEA is a shining example of bipartisanship. Lawmakers worked hard to reach middle ground and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) commends the Congress for moving beyond partisan politics during this difficult election year.

UCP is especially grateful to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), Ranking Member Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), House Education and the Workforce Chairman Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), and Ranking Member Rep. George Miller (D-CA).

Still, the pledge made by President Bush and Congress to leave no child behind can only be realized if they seek full funding for IDEA. Six million special education students in our nations public schools, including 10,000 children who participate in United Cerebral Palsy programs every day, deserve no less.

About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy is one of the nations leading organizations serving and advocating for the more than 54 million Americans with disabilities. Most UCP consumers are people with disabilities other than cerebral palsy. Through its nationwide affiliate network, United Cerebral Palsy offers services to individuals, families and communities, such as job training and placement, physical therapy, individual and family support, early intervention, social and recreation programs, community living, state and local referrals, and instruction on how to use technology to perform everyday tasks. For more information, visit www.ucp.org or call (800) 872-5827.

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