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NSBA Launches New Initiative to Reauthorize and Fully Fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

January 28, 2019

 

National School Boards Association Launches New Initiative

to Reauthorize and Fully Fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Modernizing the law and funding it fairly will help students with special education needs receive more support and get an equitable opportunity to a public education

Alexandria, Va. (January 29, 2019) — The National School Boards Association (NSBA) today launched an initiative to advocate for the reauthorization and full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). NSBA will highlight the critical need for the federal government to fulfill a long overdue promise to provide equal access to public education for all students and work with Congress to update this vital law.

IDEA (Public Law 94-142), passed by the United States Congress and signed by President Gerald Ford in 1975, has not been updated since 2004. The law needs to be modernized to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities are protected and to assist states and school districts so they can build upon their current efforts to provide students who need extra help the support and tools they need to receive an equitable educational opportunity. 

Effectively serving students with disabilities and their families is a shared responsibility and school board members have been diligently working to do their part. Public schools have made numerous enhancements – employing new instructional approaches, intervening with students and their families earlier, retaining more special education specialists, providing a range of programs and services, and more – to help students with additional educational needs. The current law, however, fails to meet the needs of students and their families.

The federal government’s contribution to serve IDEA students covers approximately 16 percent of the funding, which is well below the promised level of 40 percent. The funding gap serves as an unfunded mandate by forcing state and local governments to make up the difference. This discrepancy also impacts the amount of funding that serves students without disabilities, which is an unintended consequence of the federal government’s failure to meet its obligation.

While the law needs to be reauthorized and funded fairly, state government officials and school board members have worked to make IDEA a successful investment in students with special needs. A 2018 U.S. Department of Education report documents that the percentage of students with disabilities graduating with a regular high school diploma increased by 10 percent between 2006 and 2016. This is a notable accomplishment among the more than six million students with disabilities (13.5 percent of all students) in public schools.

“Students, parents and public schools face challenges to implement effective strategies to help students with differing needs succeed in school as a result of the federal government’s broken promise to meet its obligation,” said NSBA Executive Director and CEO, Thomas J. Gentzel. “Congress will help ensure better outcomes for all students when it reauthorizes and fully funds IDEA.”

“It is imperative students with disabilities and their families are supported in their educational pursuits. Unfortunately, the federal government is not meeting its promise to these individuals as they strive to reach their goals,” said Representative John Katko (NY-24). “The federal government is leaving state and local governments to pick up too much of the tab when it comes to special education funding. In a time when students with special needs are graduating from high school at an increasing rate and experiencing educational achievement, the federal government should want to be a part of that success. I am pleased to once again advocate for full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.”

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA believes education is a civil right necessary to the dignity and freedom of the American people, and all children should have equal access to an education that maximizes his or her individual potential. The association represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. www.nsba.org

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