Updated: May 21, 2021
"Not too long ago, students with disabilities were not guaranteed the right to attend public schools. In fact, many were turned away because of their disabilities. Today, however, students with disabilities are in every public school and in most classrooms across the country. More importantly, the majority of all students with disabilities spend most of their time (more than 80% of the day) in general education classrooms. And a higher number than ever before are graduating from high school and enrolling in college. Though we have a long way to go before our education system ensures every student reaches his full potential, the tremendous progress we’ve made over the last few decades is due in large part to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)." - National Center For Learning Disabilities
President Biden is taking steps for the federal government to make considerable investments in special education and support programs like IDEA, benefiting people with disabilities in his first budget proposal.
Why invest in IDEA?
When Congress fails to uphold its end of the bargain, schools suffer. Here’s why:
Programs that benefit all students are likely to be cut. Each year that Congress fails to meet its 40% promise, districts are forced to pay a higher proportion of the special education cost. Schools and districts have been facing budget cuts for years and there is a scarcity of resources in many of our nation’s schools. As a result, districts are forced to make hard decisions about which programs to fund. Schools and districts are sometimes forced to divert funds from programs that serve all students (including students with disabilities) into IDEA. This should not be a choice schools and districts are forced to make.
It becomes harder to recruit and retain qualified teachers. Over time, as districts are forced to put more funds into IDEA, they are unable to use those funds to increase teacher salary, decrease class size, or update classroom resources. The continual funding crisis makes it hard for schools to invest in the types of activities that will bring in and retain the best teachers.
Our schools cannot thrive until students with disabilities succeed. It has long been proven that including students with disabilities in our general education classrooms benefits all students — those with and without disabilities. When schools focus on the success of students with disabilities, the school as a whole thrives. Until they have the resources they need from the federal government to fully fund IDEA, schools will continue to struggle to provide the comprehensive and high-quality services that students with disabilities deserve.
"The $1.52 trillion plan would increase domestic spending by 16% and put more resources into programs that support people with disabilities. Notably, the request features $15.5 billion for services provided to students with disabilities in pre-K through 12th grade under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a $2.6 billion boost.
This historic $2.6 billion increase would, for the first time in eight years, increase the federal share of the cost of providing services to students with disabilities, and is a significant first step toward fully funding IDEA,” according to Biden’s proposal. There is also $732 million for early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities, giving the program $250 million more."