NSBA and over 35 national orgs. call for full funding of IDEA

NSBA and over 35 organizations joined today in advocating for the full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), on behalf of over 6.2 million students with disabilities, their teachers, specialized instructional support personnel, parents, school boards and administrators. Following is an excerpt from our joint letter to policymakers:

"Since its inception, IDEA has protected students with disabilities by ensuring access to a free and appropriate public education. The original statute included a Congressional promise to pay 40 percent of the National Average per Pupil Expenditure. Federal funding has never come close to reaching the promised 40 percent, causing states and local school districts to find ways to pay for needed services. While special education funding received much needed increases from 2000 to 2012, including the one-time infusion of IDEA dollars in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, funding has leveled off in recent years and has even been cut in some instances. The closest the federal government has come to reaching its 40 percent commitment was 18 percent in 2005, and the President’s proposed funding level for FY18 would decrease IDEA funding to levels established more than a decade ago. The chronic underfunding of IDEA by the federal government places an additional funding burden on states, local school districts, and taxpayers to pay for needed services. This often means using local budget dollars to cover the federal shortfall, shortchanging other school programs that students with disabilities often also benefit from.

"The number of students with disabilities has increased more than 25 percent over the last 20 years, a growth that federal funding has struggled to support. In fact, for FY17 (the upcoming 2017-18 school year), the federal share for IDEA is 15 percent, less than half of the Congressional commitment to students with special needs. Our organizations will remain steadfast in our approach to ensuring Congress meets its commitment to fund 40 percent of the additional costs.

"Investing in IDEA, a federal flagship formula program designed to help level the education playing field for students with disabilities, is an investment in our nation’s students and their future. It indicates that Congress is serious in meeting its commitment to helping school districts support all students. Our organizations strongly support full federal funding for IDEA. IDEA is the major—but not sole—vehicle for providing education to students with disabilities. In fact, students with disabilities are general education students first, with nearly two- thirds of students with disabilities spending at least 80 percent of their time in a general education setting.

"Thank you for your leadership on the full funding of IDEA, and we very much appreciate your work to support efforts in Congress to move toward meeting its IDEA funding commitment."

A pdf of the letter is available here.

Coalition co-signers include:

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 Clearinghouse on Women's Issues

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

The ARC of the United States



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