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Engel Pushes to Fully Fund Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Engel Pushes to Fully Fund Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

 

New York—Congressman Eliot Engel and several other Democratic lawmakers sent a letter on Wednesday to the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and Labor requesting that the committee take up legislation to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

 

IDEA is a law that makes available free special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation. H.R. 1878, the IDEA Full Funding Act, would finally provide full federal funding for IDEA, which has gone underfunded for decades.

 

“I have been leading an appropriations letter calling for IDEA to be fully funded for years, as it provides critical public education funding for students who depend on special education programs,” said Engel. “As a former teacher, I am fully aware of how important public education is, as a quality public education is society’s greatest equalizer. Congress needs to ensure the next generation is afforded the same opportunities previous generations have been offered, and fully funding IDEA is a step in the right direction.”

 

“For 40 years, we have fallen short of the federal commitment to fund 40% of special education costs for schools,” the lawmakers wrote. “As you know, regular appropriations have never exceeded 18.5% for IDEA Part B, the main funding stream for students with disabilities, which exacerbates the long-running challenges facing state and local school districts as they work to serve the over 6.7 million children eligible for special education services. We owe it to these students to provide a quality education that will help prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.”

 

The IDEA Full Funding Act would mandate gradual increases in IDEA funding to reach the full funding level of 40% within ten years, relieving the burden on states and local school districts while ensuring educational opportunities for all students with disabilities.

 

Full text of the letter can be found below:

 

The Honorable Bobby Scott                                                                         The Honorable Virginia Foxx

Chairman                                                                                                        Ranking Member

House Committee on Education and Labor                                              House Committee on Education and Labor

2176 Rayburn House Office Building                                                         2101 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington DC 20515                                                                                 Washington DC 20515 

 

Dear Chairman Scott and Ranking Member Foxx,

 

Thank you for your leadership in the effort to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality equitable education. We write today to request that the Committee on Education and Labor consider legislation to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

 

Mandy Roberts-Amo is a teacher’s assistant at an elementary school in upstate New York. Roberts-Amo has been a lifeline for a young boy who is a part of the special education program. The boy faced a series of obstacles: he was visually impaired, prone to frequent behavior problems and in need of intensive structure and consistency. Roberts-Amo is one of the thousands of teachers and educators across the country who works with students in special education programs, but she is also one of the thousands of special education teachers the federal government is leaving to flounder by not fully funding the IDEA. That is why we, the cosponsors of the IDEA Full Funding Act, are requesting the Committee on Education and Labor consider this legislation.

 

Determined to connect with the young boy, Roberts-Amo, over the course of their first year together, became an indispensable ally. She arrived early to blow up extra-large copies for him to read. She mastered the magnifying reading machine he used to view his written work. She patiently helped him as he struggled to learn reading and writing, subjects which at first led to tantrums, but in which he slowly but surely began to improve. Most important, she imposed a much-needed order to his daily routine. Soon, his outbursts and aggressive behavior subsided. However, because of recent school budget cuts, Roberts-Amo will be moved to a per diem status instead of full-time salaried teacher, jeopardizing the important progress she has made with her student.

 

The federal government is failing this young boy, and so many others just like him. For 40 years, we have fallen short of the federal commitment to fund 40% of special education costs for schools. As you know, regular appropriations have never exceeded 18.5% for IDEA Part B, the main funding stream for students with disabilities, which exacerbates the long-running challenges facing state and local school districts as they work to serve the over 6.7 million children eligible for special education services. We owe it to these students to provide a quality education that will help prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.

 

The IDEA Full Funding Act would mandate gradual increases in IDEA funding to reach the full funding level of 40% within ten years, to relieve the burden on states and local school districts and ensure educational opportunities for all students with disabilities.

 

We appreciate your work, and that of your committee colleagues, to highlight this important issue, and we hope you will consider continuing this momentum with a markup on H.R. 1878. Thank you for considering our request.

 

 

 

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