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IDEA funding

7 Feb

One of the reasons I was hopeful that Mr. Obama would be elected presidency was his promise to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This is the law which mandates special education in the United States. The original promise is that the federal government would pay for 40% of the costs of special education.

It never happened. I don’t think it ever got to 20%.

That a country like the United States could make a promise to some of those in greatest need and then not live up to the promise is painful for me to admit as an American.

If you’ve been keeping up on the news lately, even outside the US, you probably know that Mr. Obama has a huge (nearly $1 trillion) economic stimulus plan proposed.

What you may not know is that IDEA funding is included in the stimulus plan.

House Resolution 1 includes the following language

For an additional amount for `Special Education’ for carrying out section 611 and part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (`IDEA’), $13,600,000,000: Provided, That $13,000,000,000 shall be available for section 611 of the IDEA, of which $6,000,000,000 shall become available on July 1, 2009, and remain available through September 30, 2010, and $7,000,000,000 shall become available on July 1, 2010, and remain available through September 30, 2011: Provided further, That $600,000,000 shall be available for part C of the IDEA, of which $300,000,000 shall become available on July 1, 2009, and remain available through September 30, 2010, and $300,000,000 shall become available on July 1, 2010, and remain available through September 30, 2011: Provided further, That by July 1, 2009, the Secretary of Education shall reserve the amount needed for grants under section 643(e) of the IDEA from funds available for obligation on July 1, 2009, with any remaining funds to be allocated in accordance with section 643(c) of the IDEA: Provided further, That by July 1, 2010, the Secretary shall reserve the amount needed for grants under section 643(e) of the IDEA from funds available for obligation on July 1, 2010, with any remaining funds to be allocated in accordance with section 643(c) of the IDEA: Provided further, That if every State, as defined by section 602(31) of the IDEA, reaches its maximum allocation under section 611(d)(3)(B)(iii) of the IDEA, and there are remaining funds, such funds shall be proportionally allocated to each State subject to the maximum amounts contained in section 611(a)(2) of the IDEA: Provided further, That the provisions of section 1106 of this Act shall not apply to this appropriation.

It’s not perfect, but it was a big step forward in funding special education.

But, as Kristina Chew (and others) have noted, there is a push to cut this proposed amount.

Now would be a good time to let your legislators–especially senators–know that fully funding IDEA is the right thing to do.

Take a look at this document–it’s actually a pain since I couldn’t search it. It lists the funding increases for school districts under the original stimulus plan. I picked California since the Los Angeles Unified school district is HUGE. Just to make this point–the stimulus plan would add $90,000,000 to their budget in 2009.

Look up your state and school district here.

This could make a huge difference.

Don’t let them cut this proposed funding. At least, let’s not go down without a fight.