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White House Urged To Fully Fund IDEA


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As President Barack Obama prepares his 2015 budget proposal, members of Congress and the National Council on Disability are asking him to increase funding for special education. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

As President Barack Obama prepares his 2015 budget proposal, members of Congress and the National Council on Disability are asking him to increase funding for special education. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

A federal agency and more than 130 members of Congress are calling on President Barack Obama to allocate more funding for special education in his upcoming budget proposal.

In separate letters to Obama, the National Council on Disability and a group including both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are asking the federal government to increase special education spending for the coming year and to establish a 10-year plan to fully fund the program.

“We owe it to all students to provide a quality education that will help them graduate and enter successful careers,” reads a letter from more than 130 members of Congress that’s expected to be released Tuesday. “The federal government needs a plan to move us toward full funding for IDEA.”

When the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was enacted in 1975, Congress committed to funding 40 percent of the cost of special education, but the federal government has never actually paid more than 18.5 percent.

The call for increased special education spending comes as federal funding has gone up and down in recent years. A budget deal reached in January brought some relief for the program after sequestration forced significant cutbacks in 2013. Nonetheless, funding for the current year remains at a lower level than in 2012.

“While public school doors are open to students with every type of disability in the United States, inadequate financial resources make it difficult for dedicated teachers to meet their needs,” wrote the National Council on Disability, which is tasked with advising Congress and the president on disability issues, in its letter.

“Without additional funding and appropriate support, it will become even more difficult for students with disabilities to meet the ever-increasing demands of their school systems,” the council said.

Obama is currently preparing his 2015 budget proposal, which is expected to be unveiled March 4. That will mark the first step in the process of determining federal spending for the fiscal year that will run from Oct. 1, 2014 through September 2015.

White House officials did not respond to questions about how special education funding might fare in the president’s forthcoming budget.

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Comments (11 Responses)

  1. Debra says:

    Hopefully, this will end the legal war against students with disabilities and school district personnel can stop behaving like the Gestapo in Nazi Germany. They are way too many service Nazis in the educational arena. They expect to pull the child up with some invisible set of boot straps. Full funding should also stop the disparity in the delivery of services based on ethnicity and socio-economic status. I guess all the letters that have been written to the government are starting to pay off for the future. Please don’t forget when this does get funded the battle-scarred veterans who paved the way.

  2. Lois K says:

    Please President Obama!! This is critical. The kids in our school district are being warehoused and there is little or no effort to educate them. It’s a disgrace. And all you hear from the district are excuses that there is not enough funding to do what is supposed to be done.

  3. Sonja L says:

    IDEA was created in 1975. Nearly 40 years later our Federal government officials are finally realizing that they need to fully fund it? It’s disgraceful how we’ve been marginalized all these years. When there is plenty of will to provide corporate welfare at our expense, there is little will to fund a mandate they’ve created.

    The sequester has caused much damage to IDEA. States have never had what was promised and as a result, many school sites blame our children for eating up a school’s “general fund” budget. LAUSD takes almost 50% of its special education funding from the general fund because we have approximately 83,000 identified students with IEPs and must provide, by legal mandate, those services. If IDEA doesn’t come through, it’s taken from the general fund or we end up in due process spending even more money that should go to student services.

    Our families and children can’t afford the lobbyists that big business enjoys. “It takes money to make money” is how our government runs now. The will of the people is ignored…

  4. EC says:

    Dear President Obama and the rest of the US:
    The School Districts attempt to 1) Deny, 2) Limit, and 3) Discriminate and Intimidate the Students with Disabilities and their Parents. The low to which the Districts will go will appall you (Districts bringing school lawyers to IEP meetings with Parents, threatening Parents by filing lawsuits against them, calling Social Services and claiming false allegations of child abuse, blaming & defaming the Parents and the Students, etc.). For Special Needs Students & their Parents, going to school is like going to a battle field.

    Why is money that should be spent on appropriately educating students (including Special Needs students) being wasted on District attorneys and District Administrators who act like Gatekeepers preventing appropriate services to the Special Needs students? ALL THIS ABUSE MUST STOP!

    How can the U.S. allow its governmental branches (the School Districts) act in such a manner?
    Is America a Free and Democratic Super Power or is it a more of a Totalitarian Government?

    On the most practical level, is more efficient and economical to appropriately educate the Special Needs Students while they are young then to try to deal with the economic, medical, and psychological costs of what will happen to them when they become adults.
    But more importantly, on an ethical and moral level, a Society is judged based on how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable. Please hear the pleas of the Special Needs Students.

  5. Ruth-Ellen Smith says:

    If more funding for special needs students was made available, special educators, like myself, could be hired. This would help some unemployed people secure jobs as teachers and paraprofessionals, as well as providing needed benefits for the students.

  6. Mr. Mike says:

    The president will make no such change unless directed to do so by corporate america. All branches of government are bought and paid for big business and big corporations. Students with disabilities are on the low end of corporation concerns and are viewed in private boardroom conversations as predictably burdensome workers not worth investing in when maximizing profits is the sole mission and goal. I know this sounds harsh and I truly regret making such a statement. High-achieving gifted students matter most in the american corporate boardroom, and to that end, the president will be forced to to focus upon them at the expense disabled children. Corporate intrusion into the public school classroom is at an all-time high in this country; the current trojan horse in that intrusion being the common core standards replete with all of its opportunities for businesses to profit from online testing requiring new computers, revised textbooks, new standardized tests, and the cottage industry of consultants and experts, all combining to demand a larger chunk of the shrinking local education budget. With no room left at the Inn for the disabled student, the president’s hands are tied by the control held over him and the congress by big business and corporate america. Shameful.

  7. Jakki says:

    my 26 year old daughter completely fell through the cracks at her high school due to inept teachers and lack of funding. She was not set up with post school transition and still doesn’t have a job. IDEA must be funded so quality teachers/staff can be hired to give our special kiddos what they need. I don’t want to see other parents/ their children experience what we did.

  8. Sue Keller says:

    This bipartisan support of a bill for the federal government to fully their portion of special education happens pretty regularly…….and fails. Hope this time will be different! Where can we find the names of the supporters? Is it a bill or just a letter writing campaign?

  9. Grace says:

    IT has been 40 years and the Federal government officials are finally realizing that they need to fully fund it.

  10. Tod Oliver says:

    Dear Mr. President and Congress. Do the right thing. Increase special education spending for the coming year and establish a 10-year plan to fully fund the program.

  11. Denise Counts says:

    An increase in funding is crucial for Special Education as numbers of students with disabilities increase every year, classrooms become overcrowded, behaviors escalate and test scores plummet. We are removing modified testing and complexity levels on alternative testing while in the midst of watching test failure sky rocket. We keep increasing the rigor of testing which is taking away any opportunity for repetition while the percentage of learning disabilities, Intellectual Disabilities, Autism and ADD/ADHD and Dyslexia increase daily. In the midst of all of this chaos teachers are getting pushed harder to meet demands, required to increase documentation, and are being subjected to horrible treatment and disrespect from children and paretns threatening to sue. We are losing valuable teachers because the best do their best until it burns them out. Special Ed teachers need more support, smaller numbers in classroom and flexibility in programs in order to make the educational setting more successful for students with high needs.

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