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Our Policy Agenda

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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.

CEC 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 and employment and life success.

Our influence in shaping the policies that support publicly funded education, special education, and early intervention is well-recognized and valued by legislators and other policymakers as well as other professional organizations throughout the field.

Our Policy Principles

Guided by the following principles as developed by CEC's Policy Steering Committee, we strive to meet the needs of infants, toddlers, children, and young adults with exceptionalities by:

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


  1. ensuring that 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. that the rights of children with disabilities and parents of such children are protected;
  3. that 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, dissemination of evidence-based research and practices, and support; and
  4. that states and local school districts receive the resources necessary to provide for the education of children and young adults 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 the IDEA.

  • Monitor and influence appropriations and emergency COVID-19 response bills that impact IDEA; monitor authorizing legislation that could impact IDEA  

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2. Protecting and expanding policies and programs that are outside the scope of the IDEA but support students with exceptionalities.

Legislative Priorities:

  • Monitor and influence appropriation bills, authorizing bills, and emergency 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, specialized instructional support personnel, 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 strength the teacher pipeline
  • Monitor and influence 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:

  • Support emergency funding for IDEA through COVID- 19 response and recovery bills
  • Support 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.
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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

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