A bipartisan group of lawmakers from the House of Representatives introduced a bill March 5 that would significantly expand funding for chronically underfunded special education programs.When Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1975, the federal government committed to covering 40 percent of the nation’s special education funding. This contribution has never risen above 18.5 percent.
Under the IDEA Full Funding Act, this contribution would rise to 40 percent by 2025.
“For too long, Congress has failed to meet its commitment to our students and teachers, straining local resources as school districts work to meet the needs of special education,” the representatives said in a statement. “This legislation will guarantee funding increases for IDEA to ensure that our schools have the resources to provide a first-class education for every child.”
Although December’s budget deal restored nearly $600 million in special education funding that was eliminated under the sequestration cuts, the federal government currently is only contributing about 15.3 percent of national special education funding.
In February, 139 representatives signed a letter to President Obama, calling for a 10-year timetable for the federal government to reach the 40 percent contribution rate.
“The IDEA Full Funding Act will fulfill a promise made to students, their families, and educators nearly four decades ago to fully invest in special education services that are critical to a student’s academic success and a lifetime of opportunities,” said Robin D. Brewer, president of the Council of Exceptional Children, in the news release.
The bills sponsors are Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), David McKinley (R-WV), Tim Walz (D-MN), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Jared Huffman (D-CA) and David Reichert (R-WA).