Congress to Consider IDEA Full Funding Legislation that calls for the federal government to meet its commitment to fund 40% of the cost of implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the 1975 law that requires states to provide an appropriate education for students with special needs, has been re-introduced in both chambers of the ... Policy Analysis
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Policy Analysis  |   October 01, 2009
Congress to Consider IDEA Full Funding
Author Notes
  • Neil Snyder, director of federal advocacy, can be reached at nsnyder@asha.org.
    Neil Snyder, director of federal advocacy, can be reached at nsnyder@asha.org.×
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Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   October 01, 2009
Congress to Consider IDEA Full Funding
The ASHA Leader, October 2009, Vol. 14, 1-2. doi:10.1044/leader.PA2.14132009.1
The ASHA Leader, October 2009, Vol. 14, 1-2. doi:10.1044/leader.PA2.14132009.1
Legislation that calls for the federal government to meet its commitment to fund 40% of the cost of implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the 1975 law that requires states to provide an appropriate education for students with special needs, has been re-introduced in both chambers of the U.S. Congress.
In early September, Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) introduced bipartisan legislation in the Senate; Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced a similar bill in the House.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the economic stimulus package passed in the spring, increased funding for IDEA grants to states to $22.8 billion this year, or 34% of the cost of providing special education programs. However, ARRA is a one-time investment that addresses an immediate crisis; without it, IDEA grants are funded in fiscal year 2009 at about 17%.
Federal IDEA funding has never exceeded 18%, leaving state governments and local school districts to pick up the tab, often at the expense of other programs such as remedial classes, after-school tutoring, and summer school.
“Congress made a promise to our schools and our children to share the cost of special education,” Roberts said. “It’s time for Congress to relieve our state and local governments of the financial burden they have been forced to shoulder, especially in these tough economic times.”
The IDEA Full Funding Act authorizes increasing amounts of mandatory funding in six-year increments that, in addition to the discretionary funding allocated through the Appropriations Committee, finally will meet the federal government’s commitment to educating children with special needs. These new resources will ensure that all children with disabilities receive a free, appropriate public education. The increased federal funding also would allow states to re-direct funds being used to meet IDEA requirements to other education priorities, such as teacher salaries, school construction, and technology improvements.
“This is a win-win-win bill,” Harkin said. “With these appropriations, students with disabilities will get the public education they have a right to and school districts will be able to provide services without cutting into their general education budgets.”
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October 2009
Volume 14, Issue 13