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Ms. HIRONO. I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of House Concurrent Resolution 329, which recognizes the 35th anniversary of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, later renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This historic statute guarantees that all children, regardless of the nature of their disability, have the right to a free, appropriate public education.
Prior to IDEA, many children with disabilities were placed in segregated institutions with no expectation for success. As a result of IDEA, children with disabilities have been increasingly included in general education settings and have had the opportunity to receive the same education as their non-disabled peers.
Over the years, the original bill has been amended several times to bolster educational opportunities for children with disabilities. An amendment in 1986 created preschool grant programs for children ages 3 to 5 and early intervention programs for those under the age of 3.
In 1997 IDEA was again amended to ensure that students with disabilities have access to the general education curriculum and are fully included in State assessments. In 2004, all students with disabilities were guaranteed to receive an education that considers their transition to higher education, employment and independent living.
Currently, IDEA serves about 350,000 infants and toddlers, 700,000 preschoolers, and 5.9 million children ages 6 through 21. In Hawaii nearly 18,000 students receive IDEA services in grades K-12. Since the enactment of IDEA, the number of students with disabilities graduating from high school with a regular diploma and enrolling in college has increased dramatically. However, we still face challenges in providing a free and appropriate education to children with disabilities, and student outcomes remain too low.
As we celebrate the successes of IDEA, we must continue to improve access to free and appropriate education for students with disabilities. We must ensure that all students are held to high expectations and have the opportunity to succeed.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my fellow Members for cosponsoring this legislation and again express my support for House Concurrent Resolution 329, which recognizes the 35th anniversary of the enactment of the Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1975, also known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
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