NASET News Alert


May 26, 2006

December 4, 2004

President Bush Signs Special

 Education Reform Bill

WASHINGTON , D.C. – President George W. Bush today signed into law a bipartisan bill revamping the nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), setting in motion important changes that will help teachers, parents, and schools ensure every student with a disability receives a quality education.  The new law is the second major bipartisan overhaul of American education policy to be completed during President Bush’s first term in office, building on the No Child Left Behind Act signed by the President in January 2002.

The new law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (H.R. 1350), is based on legislation authored by House Education Reform Subcommittee Chairman Mike Castle (R-DE) that passed the House in 2003 with bipartisan support.  The culmination of more than two years of work in Congress on IDEA reauthorization, it includes reforms recommended in 2002 by President Bush’s special education commission, as well as key elements of the IDEA reauthorization bill passed by the Senate in 2004.     

“This new law is a bright light that demonstrates both parties can work together and achieve real change to improve the lives of Americans,” said Castle.  “Today we are making sure children with disabilities are given access to an education that maximizes their unique abilities and provides them with the tools to be successful, productive members of our communities.  But we cannot stop here; we must continue to work to improve education for all children, so we ensure each child has access to a quality education.”

“Democrats and Republicans were able to work together during President Bush’s first term to deliver not one, but two major revisions to federal education law,” said Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), who chaired the House-Senate negotiations that produced the final bill.  “There’s a lot more left to do, particularly in terms of ensuring low-income parents have the same choices other parents have in choosing schools for their children.  But this new law is a major bipartisan step forward that will make a positive difference for teachers, parents, and children with special needs.”

The new special education law will:

Ensure school safety and reasonable discipline;

Give local schools more flexibility and greater control;

Move away from compliance with burdensome regulations and costly litigation, and reduce the paperwork burden on teachers; and

Expand choices and give parents more control over their children’s education. 

“[This] law's passage offers a refreshing example of adults pushing across party lines and back at interest group pressures, and working together to change the status quo and improve educational opportunities for our most vulnerable children,” wrote Sara Mead, a policy analyst with the Progressive Policy Institute’s 21st Century Schools Project, in the December 2, 2004 edition of the “Education Gadfly,” the weekly education reform bulletin published by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.  The bulletin can be found online at

A full summary of the new special education law and other related information can be found online at the House Education and the Workforce Committee majority website at

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