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Sunday, July 24, 2011

IDEA Full Funding Act

Congress has never fully funded IDEA. Notwithstanding the failure of similar legislation in the past (as well as severe fiscal problems), Senator Tom Harkin has introduced S. 1403, the IDEA Full Funding Act:

From the Council for Exceptional Children:

On July 21, champions of special education in the Senate introduced important and responsible legislation that honors Congress’s commitment to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – the IDEA Full Funding Act.

Led by longtime disability advocate and recent CEC Outstanding Public Service awardee, Senator Harkin (D-IA), the IDEA Full Funding Act was introduced with the support of thirteen additional Senators -- Senators Durbin (D-IL), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Blumenthal (D-CT), Murray (D-WA), Whitehouse (D-RI), Leahy (D-VT), Bennet (D-CO), Franken (D-MN), Mikulski (D-MD), Reed (D-RI), Shaheen (D-NH), Johnson (D-SD), Begich (D-AK) – and the endorsement of CEC and other national organizations. Read Coalition Letter

Over the last 35 years, CEC has consistently led the effort for full funding for all parts of IDEA. This year, with state and local budgets tighter than ever, CEC applauds these Senators for standing firm in their commitment to full funding for IDEA even as pressures mount to cut federal spending from critical programs. Urge your Senators to support the IDEA Full Funding Act!

Since originally enacted in 1975, IDEA has consistently strengthened schools across the nation and, most importantly, allowed children and youth with disabilities to access the general curriculum—in many cases learning side-by-side with their peers. It has also allowed more children and youth with disabilities to graduate from high school and transition to bright futures. Overall, IDEA has improved outcomes for millions of students.

This bill is a responsible offering to the discussions about funding IDEA. It would gradually increase the funding for IDEA over 10 years, reaching full funding in 2021. It is also entirely paid for by an increase in tobacco taxes, meaning it would not deplete the general fund. For more information about how the bill is responsibly funded, read Fact Sheet.