- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 7, 2002

Gerald Reynolds is no friend of the ADA

As a presidential candidate, George W. Bush promised to fight to ensure that "all Americans with disabilities have every chance to pursue the American dream," but his recess appointment of Gerald Reynolds as assistant secretary of education for civil rights betrays his earlier commitment.

Mr. Reynolds will oversee the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which is responsible for ensuring that school districts, colleges and universities comply with federal civil rights laws. Roughly 60 percent of all discrimination complaints that the OCR investigates involve students with disabilities. For this reason, the person who heads the OCR must be ready to enforce the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other federal laws that protect students with disabilities.

Mr. Reynolds fails this test.

In the 1990s, Mr. Reynolds criticized the ADA, claiming it would "retard economic development in urban centers across the country." He also served as legal analyst on the staff of the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), a group that repeatedly has attacked the ADA and supported efforts to weaken this crucial law. (Only a few months ago, a top CEO official blasted the ADA as "one of the worst-drafted statutes" and urged Congress to "make the act narrower.")

Mr. Reynolds' nomination was opposed by a broad and diverse coalition that included Justin Dart (a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient who is considered the father of the ADA) as well as organizations such as the National Organization on Disability, National Disabled Student Union, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, and the National Spinal Cord Injury Network.

This appointment is a serious setback for students and everyone else with disabilities.


Executive director

ADA Watch Action Fund


ICC was 'made in the USA'

Phyllis Schlafly's column in the April 3 issue on the dangers of the International Criminal Court (ICC), "A time and place to spurn global court," is so filled with erroneous statements that it is difficult to choose which to refute.

For a start, I suggest that Mrs. Schlafly visit www.USAforICC.org, where she will find two important facts. First, the ICC was "made in the USA." The United States was heavily involved in the negotiations of the Rome Treaty establishing the ICC, as well as in successive meetings. A military lawyer from the U.S. Department of Defense led the negotiations concerning the crimes the court will be able to try.

Second, every due-process protection provided for in the Constitution is guaranteed by the Rome Treaty, with the exception of a trial by jury because of the impracticality of impaneling a jury to try, for example, Slobodan Milosevic (Kosovo genocide, 1999) or Pol Pot (Cambodian genocide, 1979). Only one of the 166 ratifiers of the ICC is listed as not free by Freedom House (www.freedomhouse.org).

The fear of people being seized by "judges from Sierra Leone, Sudan, or Iran" is close to ridiculous. How many tourists or U.S. service personnel are likely to be in those countries?


Executive vice president

Campaign for U.N. Reform


In defense of school vouchers

I wish to comment upon the studies conducted by Duke University economics professor Thomas J. Nechyba, the results of which were featured in "Educator says vouchers build communities" (March, 31). Although Mr. Nechyba's study of the effect of vouchers on community racial integration showed results that were not clear concerning how vouchers affect public schools, there are other studies that show that "the competition effect" is more than a hypothesis: In Florida, Maine, Vermont, Ohio and Milwaukee, public schools recently have been clearly shown to improve as a direct result of the competition for voucher students.

So, in addition to being a possible catalyst to voluntary racial integration and social harmony, vouchers are improving public schools across the country in the small programs now in existence. If the Supreme Court deems vouchers constitutional, a larger-scale program is sure to demonstrate that school choice is a long-needed reform that not only yields life-changing individual results, but also impacts entire communities in very positive ways. Empowerment, in short, is key to social change and educational excellence.


Communications coordinator

Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation


PLO remains a terrorist organization

Your April 3 story, "Local Jews protest outside PLO mission," did not bring out the core issue of the rally.

The Palestine Liberation Organization targets Americans and has played a role in the deaths of U.S. diplomats, Marines and other U.S. citizens. If and when a Palestinian state is announced and the U.S. administration recognizes it, the PLO mission will be upgraded to embassy status and, using the privileges afforded to embassies, will become a conduit of weapons and terrorists from Iran and Iraq, countries with which the PLO has an established and well-documented relationship.



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