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Senators Hassan, Shaheen Cosponsor Legislation to Fully Fund Special Education

WASHINGTON – Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) this week cosponsored the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Full Funding Act to ensure Congress’s commitment to fully fund the IDEA. In 1975, Congress passed IDEA to ensure that every child with a disability has access to educational opportunity. This legislation was a historic step forward, but since its passage Congress has failed to provide the funding promised under this bill.

“All students – regardless of personal circumstance – deserve the right to a free and appropriate public education, and since 1975, the IDEA Act has been critical to protecting that right for students who experience disabilities,” Senator Hassan said. “Fully funding the IDEA Act is essential to ensuring that all students have the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive, and I urge my colleagues to move this legislation forward as quickly as possible.”

“Investing in students with disabilities has always been a top priority for me, and as a former public school teacher, it’s also very personal,” said Senator Shaheen. “It’s disappointing that Congress has failed to fully fund special education after committing to do so over four decades ago. We cannot wait any longer. This bill will right that wrong and provide the necessary support for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act so every child has the opportunity to get a quality education. I’ll keep fighting for our students in New Hampshire and across the country to ensure our children are fully prepared for the future.”

“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has helped create a level playing field in education for students who experience disabilities, and making sure that the federal government is fully funding IDEA is critical to helping all students in New Hampshire succeed,” said Dr. Carl Ladd Executive Director of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association. “We commend Senators Hassan and Shaheen for supporting the IDEA Full Funding Act and for all that they do to support the education of students in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire School Administrators Association strongly supports the IDEA Full Funding Act and we hope that it moves through the process as quickly as possible to become law.”

Under the 1975 IDEA legislation, 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 just 15.7 percent. The IDEA Full Funding Act would require regular increases in IDEA spending to finally meet our commitment to America’s children and schools. In addition to Senators Hassan and Shaheen, the legislation was introduced by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.).

A letter of support for the bill from over 20 education groups can be found here. The full text of the legislation can be found here