WASHINGTON - Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen, as well as Congresswoman Annie Kuster, joined in introducing a bill to deliver on the commitment of full funding for educational and early-intervention services for children who experience disabilities. The IDEA Full Funding Act would ensure that Congress finally fulfills its commitment to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In 1975, Congress passed IDEA to ensure that every child with a disability has access to educational opportunity. This law was a historic step forward, but since its passage, Congress has not provided the funding it promised.
“As a mother with a son who experiences disabilities, I know firsthand how important it is that schools have the staff and expertise necessary to provide all of our children with the experience of a robust public education,” said Senator Hassan. “This important legislation would provide the funding required to meet the need that families all across the country have for these critical education resources and would help to ensure that children experiencing disabilities are fully included in our society and can thrive.”
“It is long past time Congress fulfilled its commitment to fully fund special education,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m proud to join this effort to ensure Congress finally meets its promise to help give every student across New Hampshire and the nation the educational opportunities they deserve.”
“Here in New Hampshire, we know the value of high-quality education and the power it has to lift up our communities,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I am proud to help introduce the IDEA Full Funding Act to finally live up to our promise to fully fund special education programs and ensure that every student has the support they need to thrive. This bill will make a real difference for students, families, and schools here in New Hampshire and across the country.”
Under IDEA, the federal government committed to pay 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure for special education. However, that pledge has never been met, and current funding is at less than 13 percent. According to the Congressional Research Service, the IDEA shortfall in the 2021-2022 school year nationwide was $23.92 billion. The IDEA Full Funding Act would require regular, mandatory increases in IDEA spending to finally meet the obligation to America’s children and schools. It is cosponsored by more than 20 Senators and more than 60 House members and is led by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Text of the IDEA Full Funding Act can be viewed here.
This legislation is supported by a broad and diverse group of over 60 national organizations, including by AASA – The School Superintendent Association, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Council for Exceptional Children, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), National Center for Learning Disabilities, and the National Education Association.
Senator Hassan is leading efforts to ensure that individuals who experience disabilities receive the support that they need to be fully included in their communities. Senator Hassan successfully secured nearly $3 billion in dedicated federal funding to support students with disabilities in the American Rescue Plan, which is now law. Additionally, Senator Hassan joined in introducing legislation to help ease the transition from high school to college for students with disabilities. The New Hampshire Congressional Delegation also secured $405,000 through the American Rescue Plan for Head Start programs in the state.