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Our Policy Agenda

CEC's Policy Priorities

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is a professional association of educators dedicated to advancing the success of children with exceptionalities. We accomplish our mission through advocacy, standards, and professional development.

The organization has a long history as a leader in advocating on behalf of children and young adults with exceptionalities for the human and fiscal resources necessary to enable each individual to attain their highest level of education, employment, and life success.

CEC’s influence in shaping the policies that support publicly funded education, special education, and early intervention is well recognized and valued by legislators and other policy makers as well as other professional organizations.

Therefore, the Policy Steering Committee (PSC) recommends that CEC establish a set of principles as well as a structure and process for guiding the establishment of legislative and policy priorities that is flexible and not time-bound—and which can also serve as a framework for assessing CEC’s response to changes in policy environments. Accordingly, the PSC recommends that CEC adopt the following principles as a guide for developing policy and advocacy priorities. Further, the PSC recommends that the priorities be reviewed at least annually to determine status and to recommend revisions and replace the prior two-year Public Policy Agenda.

Approved by CEC Board, July 2020


Guided by the following principles, CEC strives to meet the needs of infants, toddlers, children, and young adults with exceptionalities by:

Education professional with young student employing block-based math strategies

1. Protecting and supporting the core principles of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004

Specifically, ensuring that:

  1. All children with disabilities are afforded a Free Appropriate Public Education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living
  2. The rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected
  3. Educators and parents have access to the necessary tools to improve educational results for children and young adults with disabilities by supporting system-wide improvement activities; coordinated research and personnel preparation; coordinated technical assistance; and dissemination of evidence-based research, practices, and support
  4. States and local school districts receive the resources necessary to provide for the education of children and youth with disabilities, as well as a system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers who would be at risk of having substantial developmental delay and their families.

Legislative Priorities:

  • Engage with Congressional and Executive Branch monitoring, strategic support, and oversight activities to ensure that all appropriations bills as well as any legislative or regulatory policies or positions proposed in response to COVID-19 are consistent with the core principles and support public education’s ability to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education to children and youth with disabilities and early intervention services to children and infants and toddlers.
  • In the current political environment, and especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, CEC agrees with Congressional champions and its partner organizations that now is not the time to reauthorize IDEA.
  • Monitor and influence COVID-19 response bills that impact IDEA.
Female early intervention teacher talking to young female student

2. Protecting and expanding policies and programs that are outside the scope of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

but support children, youth, and students with exceptionalities.

Legislative Priorities:

  • Monitor and influence COVID-19 response bills that impact students with exceptionalities.
Professor teaching before class

3. Strengthening the professions that provide the specialized interventions, education, and services to infants, toddlers, children, and young adults with exceptionalities

—including teachers, administrators, early interventionists, and other instructional staff—through high-quality preparation and professional learning opportunities focused on the needs of all learners.

Legislative Priorities:

  • Monitor and influence the Higher Education Act.
  • Monitor and influence COVID‐19 response bills that strengthen the teacher pipeline.
  • Support evidence‐based legislative initiatives that strengthen the teacher pipeline.
Woman working with young boy with disabilities sorting Goldfish crackers

4. Leading efforts to make certain that all public schools, early education settings, and service providers receive the funding necessary to ensure that infants, toddlers, children, and young adults with exceptionalities are provided access

to the materials, devices, and service providers that allow them to meet the highest possible learning outcomes and quality of life that respects their dignity, culture, language, and background.

Legislative Priorities:

  • Promote emergency funding for IDEA through COVID‐ 19 response and recovery bills.
  • Promote large‐scale funding to states to bolster state budgets so that schools can be protected from major revenue losses and educator cuts.
  • Advocate for increased funding for IDEA through the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations process.
  • Advocate for the full funding of IDEA by fiscal year 2029.
Young male teacher giving young male student a high-five while doing visual math problem

5. Advocating for and supporting policies that promote safe, inclusive, and supportive schools

where children and youth with exceptionalities have positive learning environments.

Legislative Priorities:

  • Work with lead Congressional committees to develop restraint and seclusion legislation.
  • Work with lead Congressional offices to develop school climate legislation.

© 2020 Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). All rights reserved