Jere Hochman, superintendent of the Bedford Central School District in Westchester County, New York, points out the single biggest failure of the federal government: Congress mandated special-education services but has never paid the costs of its mandate.

Consequently, it is the children who are neediest who are most often neglected and left behind.

He writes:

“The word “education” does not appear in the Constitution.

“Where education is and does belong in the Federal Government is federal law: PL 94-142 now knows as IDEA. That, and civil rights issues, ARE the stuff of federal law and jurisdiction.

“The irony is that while Mr. Duncan et al pay attention to everything else except IDEA and civil rights, the children with the greatest needs are the most unserved.

“The irony is that while Mr. Duncan et al PROMOTE charter schools, vouchers, privatization, and testing every student regardless of disability; they do nothing about those same schools and procedures as they deny and dishearten children with disabilities.

“The irony is that while Mr. Obama et al wants us all to Race to the Top after Mr. Bush et all wanted No Child Left Behind, IDEA is grossly UNDERFUNDED from the 40% “full funding” promised to states at decade ago.

“And, then there’s the Federal Catch-22 – NCLB/RTTT requires annual testing of students in grades 3-8 and HS in English, reading, mathematics, etc. And, they exempt 1% (?) of the students with disabilities from the test while the rest sit in front of exams there is on chance of them having success or feeling good about their learning.

“We’ve always had standards, testing, and data storage issues yet for some reason this has everyone riled up unnecessarily (sorry but this is all fixable) while the real problems go unaddressed. The real problems? Underfunding of IDEA. Subjecting students with disabilities and limited English to standardized tests and double standardized testing. Segregated charter schools.

“Common core standards can be fixed. It’s the federal double standards that need work. And -that’s not news – that’s since 2002 with little outcry.”