From Education Votes
By Amanda Litvinov
April 22, 2015
For 40 years, Congress has failed to live up to its promise to fund 40 percent of the average per pupil cost for special education programs and services. In fact, the federal government has never met even half of that commitment.
This year alone, states had to absorb $17 billion in costs that should have been covered.
That’s forced states and districts to make cuts elsewhere to fulfill the mandates laid out in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It’s left educators and special needs students in some schools making do with the resources available.
To shine a spotlight on the unfulfilled promise of IDEA, educators have launched a campaign that allows public education activists to issue an invoice to Congress for the unpaid portion of special education funding owed their states.
Educators and parents are taking action and speaking out about the devastating effects of the chronic underfunding of IDEA.
"Over the 30 years that I have served as a special education teacher, I have seen many programs cut and educator workloads increased tremendously. The short-term impacts of underfunding special education are tremendous. The wear and tear on educators is appalling. We know early intervention can make a significant difference, but we can’t provide that without the funding to do so. The intent of IDEA is becoming a pipe dream and the long-term damage will affect all of us for years to come.”
--Connie Compton, Elementary Special Education Teacher, Kent, Washington
“My son has debilitating learning disabilities. If he does not receive appropriate instruction from special education teachers he will not be able to become a productive citizen. Please, lawmakers, provide funding that keeps classes smaller so that those with learning difficulties can be successful.”
--Colleen Kirley, Parent and College Instructor,
“Our school district, Parma City Schools, was told by Governor Kasich that he will no longer pay for the transportation of special education children. How are they supposed to make it to school? In their wheelchairs through the snow? These are the ridiculous scenarios that are harming our public schools and the students and families who depend on them. Full federal funding of IDEA is essential. Congress, please make IDEA a top priority.”
--Beth Kean, Early Elementary Teacher,