Huffman, 138 Members of Congress Ask President Obama To Increase Funding for Special Education in FY15 Budget
WASHINGTON—Last night, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) led138 members of Congress in sending a bipartisan letter to President Obama urging him to increase funding for special education services. More than 6.5 million children are eligible for special education services under the disability categories of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under the IDEA, the federal government committed to contributing 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure for each special education student. However, this funding has never met this target.
“We owe it to all students to provide a quality education that will help them graduate and enter successful careers,” the members of Congress wrote. “Full federal funding for IDEA will help deliver an appropriate education for children with disabilities and provide necessary support to our teachers and school administrators who are working tirelessly, with limited resources, to better the lives of all students.”
The letter requests increased funding for IDEA in the President’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, and offers to work with the administration to reach full funding for IDEA over the next ten years.
"We applaud the strong bipartisan support for an issue that should have broad backing -- providing our nation's students with disabilities with the resources they need to succeed. We especially thank Representatives Huffman and McKinley for leading this effort," said Mary Kusler, Director of Government Relations, National Education Association
“The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) applauds the nearly 140 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who recently affirmed their support for increased federal investment in IDEA. Last fall, NCLD surveyed parents from across the nation, and over 53% of them told us they have seen changes in their child’s special education services due to budget cuts over the last year. Our children deserve better. We thank Rep. Jared Huffman, a new champion leading a bipartisan effort to draw attention to this issue and answer this call to action.” James Wendorf, Executive Director, National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)
"California school board members are pleased to see so many members of Congress voicing a renewed commitment to funding IDEA and providing the 680,000 special education students in California with the resources promised long ago. It is our sincere hope that the President and his administration will embrace this collective call for more funding for IDEA and the reauthorization of this landmark Act,” said Josephine Lucey, President of the California School Boards Association
"Every student in California and across the nation deserves a high-quality education that prepares them for the world of college and careers," said California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. "Part of that means having the resources to offer these students the support and services they need to succeed."
“Full funding of IDEA is a top federal priority for AASA. We applaud the nearly 140 members of Congress who came together to prioritize IDEA funding in the FY15 budget, and hope to see this support move forward through the full FY15 appropriations process,” said Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director of The School Superintendents Association
The 139 cosigners of the letter, the education advocacy groups supporting the letter, and the text of the letter are listed below:
Signers: Jared Huffman (D-CA), David McKinley (R-WV), Jared Polis (D-CO), Gregg Harper (R-MS), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Michael Grimm (R-NY), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D-PA), Mike Honda (D-CA), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), Don Young (R-AK), James P. McGovern (D-MA), André Carson (D-IN), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Theodore E. Deutch (FL), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Sander Levin (D-MI), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Peter Welch (D-VT), Judy Chu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Robert A. Brady (D-PA), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Richard Nolan (D-MN), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Patrick Murphy (D-FL), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Mike Michaud (D-ME), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Lois Capps (D-CA), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), David Price (D-NC), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Tim Walz (D-MN), John Delaney (D-MD), Ron Barber (D-AZ), John Yarmuth (D-KY), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Mark Takano (D-CA), James P. Moran (D-VA), John P. Sarbanes (D-MD), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Al Green (D-TX), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Donna M. Christensen (D-VI), Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), John F. Tierney (D-MA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-CA), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Scott Peters (D-CA), Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), John B. Larson (CA-CT), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX), Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), Ron Kind (D-WI), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Joe Garcia (D-FL), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Susan Davis (D-CA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Gene Green (D-TX), Bruce Braley (D-IA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Michael E. Capuano (D-MA), John Garamendi (D-CA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), William L. Enyart (D-IL), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), William Keating (D-MA), Alan Grayson (D-FL), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Karen Bass (D-CA), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Tim Murphy (R-PA), Jim Matheson (D-UT), James Himes (D-CT), and Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA).
Groups supporting the letter: National Education Association (NEA), Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), The School Superintendents Association (AASA), National School Boards Association, Committee for Education Funding (CEF), The Association of Educational Service Agencies, National Rural Education Association, National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, National Association of Secondary Schools Principals, Easter Seals, National Disability Rights Network, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Education Task Force (CCD), National Association for Music Education, American Dance Therapy Association, American Music Therapy Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, American Physical Therapy Association, American School Counselor Association, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Association of School Psychologists, School Social Work Association of America, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, National Down Syndrome Society, National Down Syndrome Congress, National Association of Private Special Education Centers
A copy of the letter can be found HERE or below:
February 18, 2014
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
As you craft your budget for fiscal year 2015, we write to recommend a significant increase in federal funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
The IDEA provides individual-specific programs and services for students with a wide range of disabilities, including hearing impairment, autism, language impairment, and learning disabilities. Currently, there are over 6.5 million children eligible for special education services under the disability categories of the IDEA. The comprehensive assessment and support services authorized by IDEA help to close the academic achievement gap and ensure a meaningful education for every student.
We owe it to all students to provide a quality education that will help them graduate and enter successful careers. Under Part B of IDEA—the main component of the law for school children ages 3-21—the federal government committed to contributing 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure (APPE) for each special education student. However, we have always fallen short of this commitment, with funding for IDEA Part B never reaching above 18.5 percent. This shortfall exacerbates the long-running challenges facing states and local school districts, which are faced with decreasing federal resources, rising special education costs, and growing student populations. Ultimately, this situation shortchanges all students because this federal funding shortfall strains state general funds.
The federal government needs a plan to move us toward full funding for IDEA. This should begin with incremental increases, beginning in fiscal year 2015, in spending. Full federal funding for IDEA will help deliver an appropriate education for children with disabilities and provide necessary support to our teachers and school administrators who are working tirelessly, with limited resources, to better the lives of all students.
In addition to the request of increased FY15 funds for the IDEA program, we propose a renewed partnership with the Administration to consider reauthorization of the Act and identify a plan to reach full funding for IDEA over the next ten years.
Please do not hesitate to contact our offices with any questions. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on how best to increase federal funding for IDEA for the coming fiscal year and in the future.