In The Politics of Autism, I write about special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is not a civil rights law, although parents frequently assume that it is. Rather, it "condition of aid" law: it sets certain requirements for receiving federal money. If Congress abolished federal aid, it would effectively gut IDEA.
At the Center for American Progress, Will Ragland analyzes a policy agenda by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL):
Scott’s plan includes shuttering the U.S. Department of Education, eliminating the $75 billion in federal education funding it administers, and sunsetting civil rights laws it enforces.
To be clear, efforts such as Sen. Scott’s are an attempt to rob low-income students and students with disabilities, to whom most of these investments are targeted. To make matters worse, many of these students are trying to make up for massive learning gaps two years into a global pandemic.
Doing away with these federal education resources would defund several critical programs, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA mandates that students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education. Indeed, before 1975, children with disabilities were regularly turned away from public schools. Eliminating this law’s funding or the mandates would needlessly harm these children and undo decades of progress.
Lost protections against discrimination for students with disabilities: 7.3 million children and students with disabilities, larger than the total population of Arizona, would lose $14 billion used every year to ensure that they receive a quality education.