School boards praise legislation to fully fund IDEA

The National School Boards Association joined 12 other national education organizations who promote full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in a letter of strong support to the legislation’s sponsor. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds IDEA, introduced the legislation.

The letter noted:

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 FY14 (the 2014-15 school year), the federal share for IDEA is 15.8 percent, less than half of the Congressional commitment to students with special needs. Our reality is that we remain committed to Congress meeting its commitment to fund 40% 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, and represents an indication that Congress is serious in meeting its commitment to helping school districts meet the needs of all students. Therefore, we strongly support full funding for IDEA. Investing in education is the right thing for our students today and our nation’s future.


IDEA was first enacted in 1975 and provides the primary source of federal funding to help school districts fund educational services to students with special needs. Despite promises to fully fund IDEA federal special education funding has continued to decline, leaving to states and local school districts that are struggling to meet the requirements of this important federal law without the necessary federal funding.

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