One of the key features of the Obama commitment during the campaign was a commitment to fully fund the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act). The IDEA made a commitment that the U.S. Federal Government would pay 40% of the costs of special education. In reality, the government typically pays about 17%.
Here is the wording from his plan. It was inspiring to hear a presidential candidate make such a bold commitment. One that could make a huge difference for disabled children.
Fully Funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Barack Obama has been a strong and
consistent advocate for fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Congress
promised to shoulder 40 percent of each state’s “excess cost” of educating children with disabilities, but it has
never lived up to this obligation. Currently, the federal government provides less than half of the promised
funding (17 percent). Children are being shortchanged, and their parents are forced to fight with cash-strapped
school districts to get the free and appropriate education the IDEA promises their children. Fully funding IDEA
will provide students with disabilities the public education they have a right to, and school districts will be able
to provide services without cutting into their general education budgets. In addition to fully funding IDEA,
Barack Obama and Joe Biden will ensure effective implementation and enforcement of the Act.
The $12.8 billion request for Special Education programs focuses on improving educational and early intervention outcomes for children with disabilities. For the Grants to States program, the Administration is requesting $11.8 billion, an increase of $250 million over the 2010 appropriation, to maintain the Federal contribution toward meeting the excess cost of special education at about 17 percent of the national average per pupil expenditure (APPE), and provide an estimated average of $1,750 per student for about 6.7 million children ages 3 through 21. Funding for the Grants for Infants and Families and Preschool Grants programs would be maintained at their 2010 levels
17%. Status quo. Disappointing.