Maple River Education Coalition (MREdCo)
1402 Concordia Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55104

Re-funding Special Ed (IDEA)

February 3, 2003

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is up for re-authorization this year in Congress. This federal special education legislation was passed in 1975 in order to provide a "free and appropriate education" to children with disabilities in the "least restrictive environment."

What began with the good intention of helping children with physical disabilities, such as blindness and orthopedic problems, has morphed since 1991 into causing 90% of the children covered to be labeled with a "specific learning disability," "serious emotional disturbance," or "other health impairment."

All of these designations have very vague criteria and soaring rates of identification that have contributed to the drugging of somewhere between 6 and 10 million children with Ritalin and other stimulants. These drugs are classified as Schedule II by the Drug Enforcement Administration as highly addictive.

Dr. Karen Effrem has outlined the problems related to mental health and the increased drugging of children due to IDEA and how to deal with those problems in the summary position statement that follows. This statement was developed with parents and other health professionals across the country concerned about this issue. It has been used by several national groups and presented to the US Department of Education and congressional staff. A detailed statement with more supporting documentation is available at

The U.S. House wishes to pass their version of this legislation by Easter. Please stay tuned for information on specific provisions and amendments.


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