Today, Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA), David McKinley (R-WV), Tim Walz (D-MN), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), and John Katko (R-NY) introduced the bipartisan IDEA Full Funding Act, H.R. 2902, to level the playing field for children with disabilities and provide them with a high quality education.
In 1975, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), with the goal of guaranteeing that every child with disabilities would have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. At that time, the federal government committed to pay 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure for special education. Unfortunately, that pledge has never been met: current federal funding makes up just 15.7 percent. The bipartisan IDEA Full Funding Act would require regular increases in IDEA spending to finally meet the federal commitment to America’s children and schools, relieve the burden on states and local school districts, and ensure educational opportunities for all students with disabilities.
“The law guarantees every student the right to a free and appropriate public education, but Congress needs to provide the resources to make that guarantee meaningful.” said Rep. Huffman. “That’s why I’m joining with my colleagues from across the aisle to introduce the IDEA Full Funding Act, because we know that providing our children with a first-class education should not be a partisan issue. The bottom line is this: no child should ever be denied a quality education, or be kept from reaching their full potential, because they have a disability. The IDEA Full Funding Act, which is supported by teachers, parents, school leaders, and disability advocates, would ensure our schools have the resources they need to support students with disabilities, and that Congress finally meets its commitments to all students.”
“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act created a commitment to children with special needs and their families,” said Rep. McKinley. “This is a promise the federal government has failed to keep until now. The IDEA Full Funding Act puts us on a path towards fulfilling the promise we made to our children and grandchildren”
“As a teacher, I believe every child deserves a shot at the American Dream and the chance to reach their full potential,” said Rep. Walz. “The federal government needs to hold up their end of the bargain to ensure this promise can be reality. This legislation helps us uphold one of our nation’s core values: every child deserves the opportunity to succeed.”
“In four decades, we’ve failed to keep up with our own promise, as Congress mandated by law, to fund education programs for students with disabilities,” said Rep. Schrader. “This is unacceptable for every one of our students. It’s the schools that have to pick up the tab where we’ve fallen short. That not only costs our school districts money, but it takes away from other programs, diminishing the overall quality of education our communities can provide. Our bill will finally fulfill that promise and relieve our schools, giving them the ability to better fund programs like Advanced Placement, CTE, and STEM.”
"After over 40 years of the Federal Government failing to fulfil its promise to students of all abilities throughout our country, I am proud to work with my colleagues to introduce this crucial piece of legislation,” said Rep. Katko. “This bill will require the Federal Government to finally meet its commitment to support special education and the teachers who work tirelessly to ensure all of our children have an opportunity to succeed."
Rep. Huffman also introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act in the 114th Congress.
Senator Van Hollen (D-MD) plans to introduce companion legislation in the United States Senate.
The IDEA Full Funding Act is supported by teachers, school administrators, parents, and disability advocates, including: AASA, The School Superintendents Association, American Council for School Social Work, American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, American Federation of Teachers, American Music Therapy Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, American Physical Therapy Association, American Psychological Association, American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association, Association of School, Business Officials International, Association of Educational Service Agencies, Council of Administrators of Special Education, Council of Great City Schools, Council for Exceptional Children, Council for Exceptional Children (Teacher Education Division), Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Association of Elementary School Principals , National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of Social Workers, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Disability Rights Network, National Down Syndrome Congress, National Education Association, National PTA, National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium, National Rural Education Association, National School Boards Association, School Social Work Association of America, Software & Information Industry Association, TASH, and The ARC of the United States.