By Shaun Heasley
June 19, 2017
|A recently introduced bill with bipartisan support seeks to ensure that|
Congress fulfills its pledge to fully fund special education.
With a new legislative proposal, members of Congress are reviving a plan to boost federal spending on special education.
Under a bill introduced this month in the U.S. House of Representatives that has bipartisan support, federal funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act would increase over the next 10 years to ultimately reach what is known as full funding.
When Congress first passed the IDEA more than four decades ago, the federal government promised to pay 40% of the cost of educating students with disabilities. However, that has never happened. Currently, federal funding stands at just 15.7%, with states and localities picking up the rest of the tab.
The proposal calls for incrementally raising that percentage each year until reaching the 40 percent threshold in 2027.
“The law guarantees every student the right to a free and appropriate public education, but Congress needs to provide the resources to make that guarantee meaningful,” said Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., who is one of the bill’s sponsors. “The bottom line is this: no child should ever be denied a quality education, or be kept from reaching their full potential, because they have a disability.”
In addition to Huffman, the House bill is sponsored by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., and Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y. A companion bill is expected in the Senate.
The measure comes as President Donald Trump has proposed cutting special education spending for next year.
This is not the first time that members of Congress have sought to fully fund IDEA. Similar measures introduced in previous years have failed to gain traction.