Education in Election 2012: Serving Students with Disabilities

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This post is part of this week’s “Education in Election 2012” series, exploring the differences between the parties and presidential candidates on education policy.

Today, we’ll take a quick look at what the political parties and presidential candidates have done and what they plan on doing to better serve students with physical, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.

The President has a “People with Disabilities for Obama” page on his campaign website that touts his administration’s accomplishments. Although Governor Romney has several group-specific pages, Governor Romney has none for individuals with disabilities. The only information I could find on the Governor’s website is a single line stating he believes that students with disabilities should be allowed to take their IDEA and TItle I funds to whichever school they choose, an extension of his and many Republicans’ belief in the value school voucher programs.

Here’s where the candidates and parties stand:

President Barack Obama:

President Obama is committed to making sure our country values the contributions of every American—including the approximately 54 million people in this country living with disabilities. The President believes America prospers when we’re all in it together; when hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded; and when everyone from Wall Street to Main Street does their fair share and plays by the same rules

While we’ve come farther than ever when it comes to giving all people with disabilities a fair shot and a chance to succeed, the President knows how much more work we still have left and is committed to building on the progress we’ve made. Download this fact sheet to learn more.

1. Improving Access to Healthcare and Education

  • Putting health care within reach: President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act to stop insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions or disabilities. The Affordable Care Act also expands Medicaid coverage for people with disabilities.
  • Strengthening schools: President Obama understands that education is an economic imperative that should be within reach of every child. That’s why he increased funding for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) state grants and other critical IDEA programs to ensure that young adults with disabilities receive the education and training that they need to compete for jobs and lead their communities. The President will work to ensure that students with disabilities are included in all aspects of our nation’s education law, including appropriately measuring achievement gaps and working to close them so every child is on track to succeed. The administration also strengthened the early intervention program under Part C of the IDEA to help improve services and outcomes for America’s infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.

2. Promoting Innovation

  • Building a new era of technology: In July of 2010, the President signed the 21st Century Communications and Video Access Act, improving internet accessibility for the deaf and visually impaired communities.

3. Creating a Safer Country

  • President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, expanding the law to include protections against violence motivated by gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

4. Supporting Fair Employment

  • Hiring veterans: The President signed the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, doubling tax breaks for businesses that hire unemployed veterans with disabilities related to their service.
  • Reaching out to workers: The President signed an executive order requiring Executive Branch departments and agencies to improve their efforts to employ workers with disabilities.
  • Including all Americans: Under President Obama, the Department of Labor proposed new standards that would require require companies with federal contracts to set a goal of creating a workforce that includes at least 7 % people with disabilities.

Governor Mitt Romney:

K-12: Promoting Choice And Innovation
Giving students trapped in bad schools a genuine alternative requires four things: (1) such alternatives must exist, (2) parents must receive clear information about the performance of their current school and of the alternatives, (3) students must be allowed to move to a new school, and (4) students must bring funding with them so that new schools can afford to serve them.  Mitt’s reforms achieve each of these objectives:

  • Allow Low Income And Special Needs Students To Choose Which School To Attend By Making Title I and IDEA Funds Portable

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