During Hearing, Senator Hassan Also Discussed Need to Provide Additional Resources to Ensure That Students with Disabilities Receive the Same Educational Opportunities as Their Peers During Remote Learning
WASHINGTON – During a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan raised the importance of Congress passing additional federal funding to support state and local governments, which have seen their budgets strained due to COVID-19-related revenue losses, in order to meet the needs of students as schools prepare to reopen in the fall.
To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning, click here.
“As Congress has worked to respond to COVID-19, I’ve advocated for additional funding and flexibility for state and local governments to help backfill their budget shortfalls,” Senator Hassan said. “And budget shortfalls have been mentioned by all of the witnesses here. We know that some of the greatest implications of these shortfalls will be on school budgets - at a time when schools are being asked to completely rework education delivery and address student learning loss.”
Former Secretary of Education John King agreed that it is critical that Congress provide additional stabilization funds for state and local government: “We’ve called for at least $175 billion [in the next package] just to make sure that districts don’t have to make devastating cuts to personnel and programs. We need additional funds on top of that to address learning loss and social and emotional needs.” Dr. King also pointed out that budget cuts to school districts will have the most consequence for low-income students and students of color.
Senator Hassan also highlighted another group of students who have been disproportionately impacted by this crisis: “Under the [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act], students who experience disabilities have a right to access the same educational opportunities as their peers – but that’s been particularly difficult as schools have shifted from in person to remote learning. In many cases, these disruptions will result in students with disabilities experiencing learning loss and missing the education goals outlined in their Individualized Education Plans.”
When asked about the importance of Congress providing additional funds to schools through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Dr. King emphasized the need for schools to continue to support students who experience disabilities through critical resources such as assistive technology, which many schools cannot afford without additional federal funds.
Senator Hassan also asked education commissioners from Tennessee and Nebraska how they are preparing to address concerns from students about returning to school because either themselves or their family member is considered at high-risk for the virus. The commissioners both agreed that it was important for schools in their state to work with the students and their families, especially students with disabilities, to ensure that these student can keep up with their schoolwork while protecting their health.