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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:

Education professional with young student employing block-based math strategies

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 Congress and the Executive Branch in monitoring, strategic support, and oversight activities to ensure that any legislative or regulatory policies or positions 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 infants and toddlers.  
  • In the current political environment, CEC agrees with Congressional champions and its partner organizations that now is not the time to reauthorize the IDEA.
Female early intervention teacher talking to young female student

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 and authorizing bills that impact students with disabilities and/or gifts and talents.
  • Monitor and influence Department of Education initiatives that impact infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents, including anticipated guidance on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

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 evidence-based legislative initiatives that strengthen the educator 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:

  • Advocate for increased funding for IDEA and the Javits program through annual appropriations 
  • Advocate for ample funding for federal programs that support improvements to quality and diversity of the educator pipeline
  • Advocate for the full funding of IDEA by fiscal year 2033
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 advance initiatives that impact school-based mental health, including increasing the number of qualified school-based mental health professionals 
  • Work with lead Congressional offices to develop school climate and student safety legislation including restraint and seclusion legislating and legislation to end corporal punishment   

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