In The Politics of Autism, I discuss federal spending for people with autism and other disabilities.
Democratic presidential candidates have called for full funding of IDEA. Evie Blad reports at Education Week:
Education groups, who call that shortfall an unfulfilled promise, have long campaigned for "fully funding" IDEA, which underpins services for nearly 7 million students with disabilities. More federal funding for IDEA, which gets $13.6 billion in the current budget, would help special education programs, they say, but it would also more broadly affect all students as schools would no longer have to pull as much from their general education budgets to meet the law's mandates.
In recent years, it's lagged below 15 percent of the average per-pupil expenditure, less than half of what lawmakers originally envisioned, said a report in August by the Congressional Research Service.
Full funding is a moving target as numbers of identified students shift over time. A bipartisan bill introduced last year by Sen. Chris Van Holland, D-Md., and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., aims to gradually ramp up IDEA funding, reaching the maximum threshold in 2029 by ensuring at least $43 billion annually is set aside for the grants.
In an August 2019 EdWeek Research Center survey of 700 principals and district administrators, 56 percent of respondents listed special education among the factors that had a "major effect" on increasing per-pupil expenses in their districts. Thirty-two percent of respondents listed special education among the top five areas most in need of funding in their school systems. In addition to IDEA, many districts rely on Medicaid funding to help cover the costs of services for students with disabilities.