NASET News Alert

Senator Santorum's Letter to NASET Members

May 26, 2006

December 22, 2004

National Association of Special Education Teachers

1201 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.

Suite 300

Washington, D.C. 20004

Dear NASET Members,

I am inspired by the task you perform in educating children with disabilities and the remarkable influence you have on our young students.  The job of educating a child who has a disability can be extremely challenging yet very rewarding.  In teaching you become involved in the students’ behavioral and academic development, building meaningful relationships with them, sometimes often serving as their friend and confidant.  However, I understand that your work can be emotionally and physically draining. 

Throughout my tenure, I have met with several special education teachers.  They all expressed the same concern to me—the immense amount of paperwork that surrounds their job is incredibly stressful and time consuming.  I too feel that the burden of paperwork is completely unnecessary and is cause for frustration and discouragement among dedicated special education teachers, like you, who expend energy and countless hours in order to give students with disabilities an equal opportunity to learn. 

This fall, Congress took a step in the right direction and alleviated some of that burden by passing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA).  IDEA is critical, bipartisan legislation that provides a framework to unite parents, teachers, and schools in achieving the shared goal of a quality, results-based education for children with disabilities. 

Most importantly, IDEA helps special education teachers provide a better education for all students with disabilities.  Included in IDEA is an amendment I offered that reduces the paperwork burden on special education teachers.  Specifically, my amendment authorizes the Secretary of Education to grant waivers of IDEA statutory or regulatory requirements in up to fifteen states to reduce excessive paperwork and non-instructional time burdens.  The fifteen-state demonstration program would allow three-year Individualized Education Programs (IEP) to be offered for students of all ages.  However, districts in participating states would not be required to offer the three-year IEP. 

I applaud the work that you do every day to instill students with disabilities the education they need to become a vital part of our communities.  I am hopeful that my amendment will reduce your paperwork burdens associated with IDEA requirements and therefore increase the time and resources that you have available for instruction and other activities aimed at improving results for children with disabilities. 

Sincerely,

Rick Santorum

United States Senate

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