When the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was passed in 1975, Congress committed the federal government to funding 40% of states’ excess cost of meeting the educational needs of children with disabilities; however, the federal government has rarely fulfilled this obligation. For school districts already trying to find creatives ways to stretch their limited budgets, it can be very difficult to balance their obligations to the children in their districts. To help with this struggle, on July 21, 13 senators introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act (S. 1403), an important piece of legislation that would use tobacco taxes to ensure that the federal government funds states’ obligations under the IDEA fully. This is a crucial time for school districts to receive this funding, as we have all watched education budgets slashed drastically. This act would ensure that those children who needs services the most are not in danger of losing the accommodations and services that enable them to access their education; it also provides tobacco taxes as a funding source, which means that it is not taking money away from other areas in the government’s budget.
I ask you to urge your legislators to support this act in Congress. This bill would make a huge difference to children in need of special and gifted education as well as school districts struggling to make ends meet. The Council for Exceptional Children has a letter that you can send to your representatives simply by filling in your information.
Track the bill here.
Melissa Bilash is the 2010 Mom Congress delegate from Pennsylvania. This piece was originally posted on July 27th, 2011 on her Advocacy & Consulting for Education website