Petition Closed
Petitioning Representative Buck McKeon and 2 others

Urge the formation of a conference committee on HR. 4137 and S. 1642 for students with disabilities


HR 4137 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 354-58 on February 25, 2008.

S. 1642 passed the US Senate by a vote of 95-0 with 5 not present on July 26, 2007. 

Together these two bills will do a great world of good in training and retaining teacher in the field of special education through reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965.  I urge you to write the commitee chairs of each respective house of Congress in helping to persuade them that now is the time to meet in joint conference to finalize a bill for the President's signature. 

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities has compiled their preferences in passage of this law as you will see below, issue by issue.  If you agree with these recommendations, please send the letter to the committee chairs.

Teacher Quality Partnership Grants
Senate: Title II Section 201 and 202
House: Title II Section 201 and 202

CCD supports the provisions in both the House and Senate bills that strengthen preparation for all teachers so that they have needed skills and knowledge to effectively instruct students with disabilities.  CCD supports the strong focus on clinical preparation, mentoring, induction and residency programs.

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Teacher Development Provision (Burr Amendment)
Senate: Sec. 205(A) Teacher Development
House: Sec. 206 Teacher Development

CCD supports the Senate version of this language which maintains a link to Title IV funding.  Additionally, not every institution of higher education has the capacity or mission to prepare teachers in every shortage area.  Not every institution prepares teachers for both urban and rural schools.  Hence, CCD recommends amendments to sections (a)(1) and a (b)(4)of the Senate bill to allow for some flexibility in setting the goals and assurances.  Below are the language changes.  

(a)(1) increasing the number of prospective teachers trained in shortage areas designated by the Secretary, including mathematics, science, special education, and instruction of limited English proficient students
           

(A) Institutions of higher education are required to set goals for training teachers in at least one shortage area and for as many of the shortage areas in which they prepare teachers.
[Note:  Not all preparation programs have the capacity to prepare teachers in all shortage areas](b)(4) the institution is preparing teachers to teach effectively in urban and/or rural schools.             

(A) for those institutions that do not serve either urban nor rural schools, an assurance that institution is preparing teachers to serve the local school community.
[Note:  Current language requires all programs to prepare teachers for both rural and urban schools.  This is not tenable for many programs]

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Teach to Reach Program
Senate: No similar provision in the Senate bill
House: Title II - Yarmuth Amendment for the Teach to Reach Grants
  
CCD strongly supports this much needed program to prepare general education teachers to effectively instruct students with disabilities.  NCLB has spotlighted the great need for this program.  Two amendments are recommended:  1) Under Sec. 291 (c) (2) add a new “(F) understanding and utilizing principles and strategies of universal design for learning” and 2) Sec. 291 (c) (3) change “the first year of full-time teaching” to “the first two years of full time teaching.” 

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Veterans with Disabilities
Senate: No provision in the Senate bill
House: Sec. 436

CCD supports the provisions of HR 4046 which were incorporated in the House bill allowing veterans with disabilities to access student loan discharge benefits in a timely manner.
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Access to Federal Financial Aid for Students with Intellectual Disabilities
Senate: Title IV
House: Title IV

CCD strongly supports these landmark provisions which authorize federal financial assistance for students with intellectual disabilities who are accepted or enrolled in comprehensive postsecondary education programs for students with intellectual disabilities.
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Programs to Ensure Students with Disabilities Receive a Quality Higher Education
Senate: Title VII Sec. 761-762
House: Title VII Sec.  707

CCD applauds the reauthorization of this important program and supports new provisions in House and Senate bills, particularly the focus on universal design for learning in the House bill and disability career pathways in the Senate bill.
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Model Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities
Senate: Sec. 771-773
House: Sec.  769

CCD supports this important new program that will open the doors for students with intellectual disabilities to participate in higher education.  CCD recommends that the final bill include the Senate provisions that separately authorize these programs and the Coordinating Center described below.  CCD recommends dropping the Senate provision which requires that 10 programs be funded.  This determination should be made based on the appropriations level. CCD recommends retaining the House provision that would place administration for these programs in the Office of Postsecondary Education. CCD recommends adding a new provision to clarify that nothing in this section infers new obligations on K-12 school districts.
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Coordinating Center for Technical Assistance, Evaluation, And Development of Accreditation Standards
Senate: Sec. 774
House: Sec. 770

CCD supports this center which will be critical to the postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities.  CCD recommends adding a provision which will ensure that there is outreach to parents and families so that they are aware of the new postsecondary programs.  The Coordinating Center should have an authorization level that is separate from the Model Comprehensive Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities.
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Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials and Model Demonstration Programs to Improve Access to Instructional Materials
Senate: No provision
House: Sec. 766A and 766B

CCD supports the creation of this commission and these model demonstration programs.  Access to instructional materials is a significant challenge for many students with disabilities in higher education.
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National Center for Information and Technical Support for Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities
Senate: No provision
House: Sec. 766

CCD supports the creation of this much needed center to facilitate the successful participation of students with disabilities in higher education.
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Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need – priority for Special Education faculty
Senate: No provision
House: Sec. 702 (c)

CCD supports the priority for those studying to become special education teacher educators.  Addressing the critical shortage of special education faculty is key to addressing the critical shortage of special education teachers.
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National Study on Higher Education Access and Success for Students with Disabilities
Senate: No provision
House: Sec. 710

CCD strongly supports this study which is much needed to document the challenges students with disabilities face in accessing higher education and to make recommendations.


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This is the letter they wrote to the members of these committees on February 29, 2008

Chairman Edward Kennedy            
Chairman George Miller
Ranking Member Mike Enzi             
Ranking Member Buck McKeon 

Dear Chairman Kennedy, Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Enzi and Ranking Member McKeon: 

The undersigned members of the Education Task Force and the Employment and Training Task Force of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities are pleased to support the conference of the House and Senate bills to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HR 4137 and S. 1642).  These important bills contain numerous provisions intended to support access to higher education by students with disabilities and the preparation of both general education and special education teachers so that they can effectively instruct students with disabilities.  We applaud you for developing bills that acknowledge and address the significant needs of students with disabilities in relation to access to higher education.  

Please find attached the specific recommendations of the Education Task Force for conference.  Please note that CCD supports the recommendations of the Universal Design for Learning Workgroup.  

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities is a coalition of approximately 100 national disability organizations working together to advocate for national public policy that ensures the self determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society.
  
American Association on Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities
APSE: The Network on Employment
Association of University Centers on Disabilities
Council for Learning Disabilities
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
Easter Seals
Higher Education Consortium for Special Education
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Association of State Directors of Special Education
National Association of Private Special Education Centers
National Association of School Psychologists
National Center for Learning Disabilities
National Down Syndrome Congress
National Down Syndrome Society
TASH
The Advocacy Institute
The ARC of the United States
The Teacher Education Division/Council for Exceptional Children
United Cerebral Palsy
United Spinal Association  

For additional information contact: 

Katy Beh Neas, Easter Seals 202.347.3066 kneas@easterseals.com

Paul Marchand, The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy 202.783.2229 marchand@thedpc.org

Laura Kaloi, National Center for Learning Disabilities 703.476.4894           lkaloi@ncld.org

Jane West, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education and the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children 202.293.2450           jwest@aacte.org

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Please support this recommendation today!

Letter to
Representative Buck McKeon
Representative George Miller
Senator Ted Kennedy
I agree with the recommendations proposed by the Consortium on Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) on February 29, 2008 and support the conference of the House and Senate bills to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HR 4137 and S. 1642). These important bills contain numerous provisions intended to support access to higher education by students with disabilities and the preparation of both general education and special education teachers so that they can effectively instruct students with disabilities.  I appreciate that you have helped to develop bills that acknowledge and address the significant needs of students with disabilities in relation to access to higher education.

I ask that you continue to remain vigilant for the needs of students with disabilities when you consider these bills in conference.