CEC on the Hill: IDEA Full Funding Coalition Holds Briefing on Capitol Hill
On Wednesday, October 18th, CEC joined the IDEA Full Funding Coalition for a briefing on Capitol Hill on the IDEA Full Funding Act (H.R. 4519 S. 2217). CEC’s Senior Policy and Advocacy Advisor, Kuna Tavalin, started the briefing by discussing the importance of fully funding IDEA. Congress is currently only meeting 12% of the 40% of the full funding pledged during the adoption of IDEA. This summer, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Representative Jared Huffman, and Representative GT Thompson introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act. This act would provide a glide path to fully funding IDEA over the next ten years.
Senator Chris Van Hollen appeared at the briefing and talked about the importance of IDEA and full funding. The Maryland senator has introduced similar acts many times over his time in Congress. Senator Van Hollen remarked, “Why do we keep at it? It's the right thing to do. This is something we got to do for kids. Funding this helps all students, those with disabilities and those without disabilities.”
The briefing included a panel discussion moderated by Christina Samuels, an education reporter at the Hechinger Report. Panelists included special educator and Past President of CEC, Danielle M. Kovach, EdD, retired special educator and administrator Dr. Gwendolyn Mason, and Director of Special Education Elementary Education at Arlington Public Schools, Dr. Kelly Krug.
Each panelist talked about the importance of fully funding IDEA and its impact on their work within the special education field. Danielle Kovach talked about her classroom, her philosophy of teaching, and her perspective on her practice, “In my classroom, I know my students have the right to a free and an appropriate education. It's my job to get them what they need to be successful.” Dr. Gwendolyn Mason remarked on how school districts have stepped up and worked tirelessly to ensure that all students were served, “I have to applaud school districts. The contribution for local and state funds have made up the difference for what the federal government has failed to provide." Dr. Kelly Krug discussed the difference that full funding would make in her schools, adding that her county would be able to add an additional 100 staff members to better serve students and alleviate the administrative burdens on teachers.
Fully funding IDEA would allow students to have access to the tools and services they need. With fully stocked classrooms that don’t depend on teachers supplementing their budgets with their own money, students will thrive, and teachers will be best positioned to serve their students. Full funding will help to boost school inclusion and benefit all students. Funding will create opportunities to effectively collaborate and ensure students have meaningful engagement with their peers and meet their IEP goals.
Fully funding IDEA is vital for our students. Visit CEC’s Legislative Action Center and urge your representatives to cosponsor the IDEA Full Funding Act to ensure a better future for our students and schools.