A bipartisan group of 139 members from the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama on February 18, calling for the federal government to more than double its spending on special education programs.
“The comprehensive assessment and support services authorized by IDEA help to close the academic achievement gap and ensure a meaningful education for every student,” the letter stated. “We owe it to all students to provide a quality education that will help them graduate and enter successful careers.”
When Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1975, the federal government committed to covering 40 percent of the nation’s special education funding. This contribution has never risen above 18.5 percent, leaving the states to pick up the rest.
In the letter, the congress members called for a 10-year timetable for the federal government to gradually increase its allocation until it reaches the 40 percent figure, starting with the fiscal year 2015 budget.
The letter came four days after the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency, made a similar plea in a letter to President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
“Across the country, education funding continues to be a challenge. Despite this, our educators are pushing to raise the bar higher with more rigorous standards, tougher standardized summative assessments, and more advanced credit requirements to graduate from high school,” the NCD stated in the 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.”